HP plots tablet comeback to penetrate biz world with slab
But UK channel in the dark
HP is returning to the tablet game, but it doesn't want to take on Apple in its consumer backyard - instead the vendor would prefer business types fondled its hardware.
This was the swan song for hilarious former CEO Leo Apotheker, but his successor Meg Whitman has talked up the firm's desire to reenter the space dominated by Apple.
Todd Bradley, head of the merged printer and PC business in HP, told channel mag CRN in the US that a launch is in the offing.
"Obviously we are kind of re-establishing the category after the August 18, 2011 changes that were made," he said. "I don't know if we are overcompensating or just reevaluating how we market and go to market with new products. So you are seeing very large seed programmes."
Bradley said HP's tablet will be the "only serviceable tablet there is" and claimed "it is expandable". But what it won't be is a consumer device, which is a brave - some may say foolhardy - move given the trend toward employees buying their own devices from shops and bringing them into the office.
He said HP will focus "minimal time, if any time, on the consumer side … right now".
Slate sales through resellers have shifted from consumers to businesses in the last set of Q2 sales-out figures from channel analysts Context, indicating hardening demand from the biz community. Apple remains the undisputed biggest shifter of tabs both to consumers and businesses, the analyst figures show.
The as yet unnamed HP slab is expected to be unveiled - in the US at least - around the Windows 8 launch, but no pricing or specs were confirmed by Bradley or by members of the UK channel. In fact HP's UK partner base doesn't appear to have any details or visibility of the forthcoming HP slab, let alone a seeding unit to test the appetite of small, medium and corporate users.
"Our commercial teams are working on roadmaps months in advance but we've not seen anything from HP," said a source.
An HP spokeswoman said: "I can confirm that HP will be launching a tablet within the Windows 8 timeframe". ®
What the blue blistering blazes is the business demand for a tablet?
I don't mean touch screens like warehousemen or doctors or van drivers, we have those gadgets already. Why the black japanese fire-baked enamel does a sales herbert or a management dwonk need a tablet?
They've already got a flaptop, and a crackberry and a deskweight, and probably an eyePhone. What on earth do they need to do that they can't do with that lot and can do only with a tablet?
Re: The only question is...
No, they'll screw up far more easily - they'll launch a tablet, probably a nice bit of kit, reasonably priced, it'll be an assemblage of third party hardware and work well with W8..... and find there's not a big market for business tablets. I'd accept there is a market, but the size is critical for HP, with revenues last year of almost $130 billion.
Most businesses want productivity (ie the user to input) from devices - hence desktops, laptops, mobiles. I can see tablets being a bit of use for salesforce work that requires slick devices but limited input. Oh, and good for C-level grumble browsing. Stocktaking and field data collection could make use of tablets, but there's a degree of rugged-isation that would add cost and detract from other uses (and already there's a range of specialised devices in that sector).
So I'm guessing that for most of the orporate workforce, tablets won't be of any use. Meg is running after the tablet and smartphone bandwagons, rather than focusing on the many ills that HP actually has. Worryingly, these moves suggest that Meg thinks that throwing a few fashionable devices out will restore PSG to real profits and to some form of fit with the rest of HP. More likely it won't, and the problem is that HP is too diverse. PSG need to go it alone (remarkably, a correct assessment by Leo). Software needs a new home (no fit at all, no clout in HP group, Autonomy mess up proving they don't know what they are doing).
That leaves Imaging & Printing, Services, and Enterprise hardware, all of which have a common B2B infrastructure theme. But perhaps that would be a bit sensible. Much more in keeping with "the HP way" would be buying RIM: Lots of exciting M&A action for the suits, the pretence of B2B synergies, the claim of a rapid journey to sunlit, fast growth mobile device uplands.
So they are going for a big and chunky Win8 tablet then?
User serviceable / upgradeable implies a bigger case. Business oriented implies Windows.