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Hewlett-Packard, in its re-entry to the tablet market, is ceding the consumer space to Apple for the time being to focus on steering enterprise customers away from buying iPads.
HP executives are calling the recently unveiled ElitePad 900 an "enterprise tablet" that is aligned with the needs of business users. In addition to running Windows apps, which can only run on iPads using virtualization, the ElitePad 900 features "military grade durability", as well as management and security that makes it function, from an IT perspective, the same as a PC.
HP expects the enterprise tablet category to grow at three times the rate of the consumer tablet market, but given the long sales cycles involved, HP isn't expecting the ElitePad 900 to have an impact on revenue until fiscal 2014, HP CEO Meg Whitman said last week in HP's annual meeting with Wall Street analysts.
HP isn’t rushing the ElitePad 900 into the channel. It won't be available until January, and HP has not yet announced pricing. Microsoft's shroud of secrecy around Windows 8 is another issue that stands to delay HP's re-entry to the tablet market.
Arlin Sorensen, CEO of Heartland Technology Solutions, an HP partner in the Midwest, is bullish on the ElitePad 900 but isn't expecting to start selling it until late first quarter at the earliest due to the lack of information he is getting about Windows 8.
"Microsoft has not given us adequate access to Windows 8 training," Sorensen told CRN. "We won't sell it until we are comfortable, and the longer it takes for us to get it, the longer it will be before we sell it."
In the meantime, Whitman and her executive team are targeting enterprises that have allowed iPads into their organizations through the bring-your-own-device trend. "In the C-suite, there are Apple devices that are there, but every CIO I talked to wants to have a Windows device, backward compatibility, the ability to control those devices from a security perspective," Whitman told analysts.
John Gunn, president and CEO of ISG Technology, a Salina, Kan.-based HP partner, is expecting strong demand for the ElitePad 900, especially in the healthcare industry.
"Battery life and keyboard are weaknesses in the iPad. I know of several medical practices that have gone to the HP or Toshiba Folio 100 after trying the iPad as an input device during exams," he told CRN.