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Hewlett-Packard on Tuesday said it is preparing to bundle its small business PCs and printers with Google Apps for Business, a move that signals a continuation of a growing rift between HP and one of its key technology partners, Microsoft.
Just as important, the new offering, called HP SMB IT in a Box, is a strong sign of the growing need for HP to embrace the cloud and for Google to find a way into the business world.
"I think it's the next evolution," said Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global, a Westboro, Mass.-based partner of both HP and Google. "This will likely extend the acceptance of Google apps for business. This is already starting to gather momentum, but they need to further demonstrate interoperability with legacy applications in order to reach the next level. A solid relationship with HP will be beneficial."
The long partnership between HP and Microsoft has been showing stress lines in the last couple of years.
HP in February released the HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook, a Google Chrome-based portable PC, marking a split with its traditional Microsoft Windows-based offerings.
HP is following that up this month with the expected launch of the Slate 7, its first Google Android-based tablet PC.
Furthermore, Microsoft this year agreed to loan $2 billion to Dell as part of Dell's move to transform into a private company.
However, for HP and Google partners, the big question is how the new HP-Google partnership will work in the small business market.
Under the new relationship, unveiled at this week's HP Discover conference, HP is entering the Google Apps Reseller program.
The HP SMB IT in a Box offering, scheduled to ship in July, bundles HP's PCs, printers, management console, administration technology and customer support with Google Apps for Business, which includes Gmail, IM, Calendar, Drive, Docs and other applications.
HP said later versions of HP SMB IT in a Box will include integrated consoles that will allow solution providers, IT administrators and customer to access the entire solution.