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Whitman said that Microsoft's Surface appears to be focused on the consumer business. In this market, HP is coming out with two hybrid models that function both as a laptop and, when the screen is unlocked from the keyboard, as a tablet PC. While the Surface has a keyboard, the device does not really function as a traditional laptop, she said.
"We think there's a lot of growth in the enterprise for tablets for workers," she said. "So whether you're an insurance company or a retailer or, you name it, there is a demand for tablets in the enterprise that is enterprise-grade, enterprise-built for security."
With HP's tablet, users can remove the back or replace the screen. They feature a 10-hour battery life, which can be extended another 10 hours via a "Smart Jacket" that fits over the tablet, she said.
When asked why staying in the PC business is important to HP, Whitman said that after she joined HP, it was the first big decision she had to make after her predecessor Leo Apotheker said the company was considering selling off its PC division. But after a 30-day review by a team of 100 people, the company decided it made sense to stay in the PC business.
One reason was the fact that PCs were the heritage of HP. "It's nearly a $40 billion business," she said. "We're still No. 1 in the marketplace."
HP also gets tremendous supply-chain synergies by having a large PC business to go with its server and storage business.
PUBLISHED OCT. 29, 2012