Slate 8 Is Late … And Just In Time

Nobody could have missed the list of hardware announcements during HP’s Global Influencers  Summit on May 9th in Shanghai. More in particular HP announced:

  • HP ENVY SpectreXT, an ultra thin and light notebook
  • HP ENVY Sleekbooks and HP ENVY Ultrabook , notebooks for entertainment
  • HP EliteBook Folio, a notebook for the business environment
  • HP t410 All-in-One Smart Zero Client, an all-in-one desktop run at low-power
  • HP Z220 Workstations and HP EliteBook Mobile Workstations
  • HP Officejet 150 Mobile All-in-One printer
  • Four new HP LaserJet printers and an HP Scanjet.

HP’s sleek and ultra books follow the thin and light trend and are supposed to slow down the onslaught of tablets in the mobile segment while at the same time trying to answer Apple’s MacBook Pro and MacBook Air assault. For the time being this will work in the business segment but as the BYOD trend continues anticipate a rapid business uptake of the tablet, maybe even this year. However HP does not currently have a viable tablet alternative and will have to aggressively push their powerful PC alternatives at very competitive prices (the Sleekbooks are going at $700 to $800).

The  t410 All-in-One is designed around a system-on-a-chip concept from Arm. This makes it a very low power requiring device able to be run on a Power-over-Ethernet connection. It is called a Zero client as it is not delivered with an OS but run from the server infrastructure. Using up to 13 Watt it seems a good alternative in thin client environments of enterprise customers that seek control and cost savings.

As for the refresh of printing and scanning devices, nothing shocking here. HP knows exactly what the printing behavior of people and businesses is and will drain this market to the last tree standing. For as long as ink adds substantially to the HP’s bottom line we will not see an e-paper alternative from this company.

Of course these announcements aim to reinforce Meg Whitman’s decision not to sell off HP’s PSG division as well as showcasing HP’s continued commitment to the Windows environment. After all this has paid off nicely over the last 2 decades and the new products will no doubt cater to the still PC-centric business sector for some more years. But from a strategic point of view this flood of PC and printer announcements feels like a standstill. The mobile and paperless future of HP seems to consist of desktops, notebooks and printers.

By killing their TouchPad tablet (Slate) last year and making WebOS open source HP gave up its ambition to play a leading role in consumer mobility and decided not to join the consumer eco-system war between Apple, Microsoft and Google. Even the announcement of the Slate 8, a new Windows 8 tablet and successor to the Slate 500 and Slate 2, emphasises this decision: the tablet will be running Windows 8 Professional and is aimed at the corporate market. In that respect the Slate may be late but in time for corporate tablet adoption.

HP is still committed to produce state of the art hardware as exemplified by their announcements at the summit. They have clearly cut out their objective and market: the number one hardware vendor in the business segment. This sits well with their storage, servers and network products and with their IT services portfolio. It will also bring solid and predictable business. While this seems a wise strategy one would expect a bit more from the technology powerhouse Hewlett Packard still is. Let us know your thoughts on HP’s future.

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About Marcel Warmerdam