HP Says It's Going To Overtake Apple With WebOS Tablets

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At a press conference held over the weekend in Cannes, France, Eric Cador, senior vice president of HP's Personal Systems Group -- Europe, Middle East and Africa, said HP's ability to dominate the highly commoditized PC market will give it a leg up in the tablet space.

"In the PC world, with fewer ways of differentiating HP's products from our competitors, we became number one; in the tablet world we're going to become better than number one. We call it number one plus," Cador said at the event, as reported by The Telegraph.

It's a clear shot at Apple, the undisputed tablet leader, which to this point in time has been treating the market like its own personal playground. HP has said it's not just targeting Apple, but a broad swath of tablet players. Yet HP sees itself as the only true challenger to Apple when it comes to offering a mobile device portfolio that encompasses hardware and software.

Cador took it a step further by suggesting that HP is the only company that "plays in both the consumer and business and worlds." This is arguable, as the iPad is selling like hotcakes in the enterprise and interest in the segment shows no sign of waning. And Apple's enterprise Mac sales grew 66 percent in its most recent quarter, far exceeding the 4.5 growth rate of the rest of the PC market.

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HP also sees its channel and distribution muscle as advantage over Apple. At HP's Americas Partner Conference in March, Stephen DeWitt, senior vice president of HP's Americas Solution Partners Organization, said HP's strong channel focus will give it a long term advantage over Apple, particularly when it comes to attracting developers.

As HP gears up to launch TouchPad this summer, executives have been getting more specific about the unique features and functionality HP brings to the table. Perhaps the biggest is that WebOS devices are designed to communicate and share data with each other.

This will allow for wireless printing from WebOS devices to a wide range of HP printers as well as sharing URL content between devices by tapping them together. Another interesting scenario: For customers that buy a Pre3 and a TouchPad, if a text message or phone call comes in while the phone is charging, it will be routed automatically to the tablet.

HP is making a lot of noise for a company that doesn't yet have a tablet on the market and won't even offer a more specific time frame than "this summer" for its release. And it's unclear what benefits HP would reap from achieving "better than number one" status. At this point, it's all just bluster.

But HP does believe the tablet market is a marathon, not a sprint, so what we're seeing now probably amounts to pre-race calisthenics.