HP chief operating officer Bill Veghte has claimed some Australian businesses are close to buying HP’s new tablets the ElitePad 900 and Slate 7 for their fleet but would not reveal who. Photo: Louise Kennerley
Global technology giant HP says it is "not messing around" with its re-entry into the tablet market, despite spectacularly failing in the space 18 months ago.
Chief operating officer Bill Veghte told The Australian Financial Review during a tour of Australia last week that it had laid out an 18-month roadmap for consumer and enterprise devices, beginning with the ElitePad 900 and Slate 7 devices announced last month.
The enterprise tablets will run Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system, while the Slate line will run Google Android when they are released next month.
"In the tablet space, we are serious about this, we're not messing around with it," he said. "Is it an entry? Yes. Have we got a multi-year strategy around the hypothesis? Absolutely."
HP chief executive Meg Whitman last month declared tablets were part of its attempt to "incrementally" shift the company's focus away from desktop PCs. But so far it has been weighed down by a series of aborted attempts.
HP backed former Microsoft chief Bill Gates' original vision for Windows XP-based tablets in 2003, while its Slate moniker was given to a 7-inch tablet unveiled by Mr Gates' successor, Steve Ballmer, in 2010, running Windows 7. The latter product was never officially launched.
An attempt to re-enter the market in 2011 with the TouchPad, running a version of the webOS software gained through its $US1.2 billion acquisition of phone maker Palm, was pulled from shelves just six weeks after launch, and contributed to the departure of chief executive Leo Apotheker.
Mr Veghte said the ElitePad tablets were aimed at striking a balance between consumer features and enterprise security.
"We entered predicated on a very clear hypothesis that said enterprises need a tablet that their employees are excited about but that can effectively interact with the enterprise without all sorts of costs and add-ons," he said.
Some Australian businesses were close to buying the tablets for their fleet but would not reveal their names, Mr Veghte said.
Telsyte analyst Foad Fadaghi said HP had an opportunity to gain some traction in the enterprise and consumer spaces with the tablets, but noted that competition for both markets was extremely high."As you ask an engineering team to support multiple platforms, that's expensive," Mr Veghte said in defence of a move away from the software."We've got a lot of work to do but when I look at our deck of cards versus some of other competitors in the marketplace, I like our opportunities."
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