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8/23/2010
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What Hewlett-Packard's Tablet Plans Mean To SMBs

Taking note of the widespread success of Apple's iPad, Hewlett-Packard has become the latest vendor planning to deliver such a product line. The HP products may gain some traction among small and medium businesses, but their long term fate is unclear.

Taking note of the widespread success of Apple's iPad, Hewlett-Packard has become the latest vendor planning to deliver such a product line. The HP products may gain some traction among small and medium businesses, but their long term fate is unclear.Hewlett-Packard outlined broad tablet plans last week during an announcement centering on its third quarter financials. The company is building two tablet systems: one based on the WebOS that came along with its acquisition of Palm Computing and a second based on Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system. Both devices are expected to debut in early 2011.

The tablet market had been in a moribund state until Apple breathed life into it. Since then, a number of high profile vendors (Dell, Google, Microsoft, and Research in Motion) have been busily outlining plans to deliver devices. With so much competition evident, the question becomes: how many vendors can the tablet market support? Probably fewer than those who are now interested in delivering such products.

So, how will HP fare? The company has done a good job marketing many of its products to small and medium businesses; however, it has not been a major player in the mobile space. In addition, the Palm devices garnered only niche acceptance and were headed to obscurity before Hewlett-Packard picked them up off the scrap heap. To spur sales, the vendor could more closely bundle its mobile devices with its hardware and networking products, however, it is unclear what types of bundles it could offer and how they would compare to competitive devices. So while the company's new foray has potential, a lot of work needs to be done before HP will be viewed as a key mobile device supplier.

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