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Hewlett-Packard is aiming to derail the Apple iPad bring-your-own-device to work phenomenon with its own "expandable" and "serviceable" business tablet that is being backed up by one of the most aggressive HP channel sales enablement efforts in years.
Among the new HP tablet's channel-friendly features that mark it as a business-class system will be the ability for business partners to expand it with different options for specific vertical business solutions and to open the tablet to service it, said Todd Bradley, executive vice president of HP's $65 billion printing and personal systems business, in an exclusive interview Thursday with CRN at HP's Andover, Mass. facility. "This is the only serviceable tablet there is," boasted Bradley. "It is serviceable, and it is expandable."
Bradley would not provide pricing or specific product details for the new HP Tablet which is expected to be announced sometime in the next several weeks just in time for all the hoopla around Microsoft's expected Windows 8 launch. HP will spend "minimal time, if any time, on the consumer side" of the tablet market "right now," he said.
The new business tablet marks HP's reentry into the tablet arena following the infamous August 18, 2011 announcement under former HP CEO Leo Apotheker when HP disclosed plans to kill the HP TouchPad tablet after only six weeks in the market and said it was considering strategic options for its PC unit that included a possible spin-off. Since Apotheker's departure last September, new HP CEO Meg Whitman has reaffirmed the company's commitment to the PC business and now is bringing the computer giant back into the tablet game.
"Obviously we are kind of reestablishing the category after the August 18, 2011 changes that were made," said Bradley discussing the TouchPad misstep. "So I don't know if we are overcompensating or just reevaluating how we market and go to market with new products. So you are seeing very large seed programs [to get the Tablets in the hands of partners]."
In fact, Bradley said HP has put more resources and muscle in terms of getting HP channel partners ready to sell the new tablet than any product offering since he joined the company in 2005. "It's all in with the channel,” said Bradley. "We were with a whole group of partners last night for dinner. We talked about seed products for them to understand the tablet as well as seed products for their customers."