The iPad has gained a foothold in enterprises via the bring-your-own-device trend. Apple is now looking to cement this position by building a channel of Microsoft partners to handle large-scale iPad and iPhone projects.
HP's Windows 8 tablet could face a tough climb, and to make things easier for its channel, HP is giving partners 60-day financing for tablets and other products under a recently launched program that includes the participation of Wells Fargo, GE Capital, IBM and De Lage Landen.
"Essentially, we're helping pay the interest cost for partners and making sure cash flow is not an inhibitor for them growing," HP’s Solomon said. "This is something we haven't done in the past, and we think of it as proof of what we're doing to re-ignite the channel."
HP CEO Meg Whitman has previously earmarked security and management as areas where HP could improve upon Apple's iPad, and Solomon echoed this line of reasoning. "There is a logic to being in a space where there is already a set of tools that IT managers and VARs are already comfortable with," he said.
HP was quiet in the wake of Microsoft's unveiling of its Surface tablet, but Solomon said HP does not see it as a competitive threat.
"I believe Microsoft was basically making a leadership statement and showing what's possible in the tablet space," Solomon said. "Our relationship has not changed at all due to Microsoft's announcement. In fact, I applaud it -- I think it's great that they are getting out in front and [showing] what's possible."
With Surface, Microsoft has included a pressure-sensitive cover that doubles as a fully functioning keyboard and trackpad. By straddling the line between content creation and consumption, Microsoft Surface could compete with HP's Ultrabooks, but Solomon isn't concerned about the potential for conflict.
"The keyboard that they showed for Surface is a great occasional use keyboard," Solomon said. "But if you're a professional content creator, there's no way you're going to use a keyboard like that for every day use."
PUBLISHED AUG. 14, 2012