The Touchpad and HP's future in education

The Touchpad and HP's future in education

Summary: Buh-bye, Touchpad...and buh-bye to the perennial back-to-school pallets of HP hardware. Time to look elsewhere for tech refreshes, no matter how cheap HPs might be (or might become).

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You know, it's too bad about the HP Touchpad. I know, I know, it's all about the iPads in education. They're sort of everywhere. But I've spent the last 2 weeks with HP's short-lived and now-defunct Touchpad and I have to say that, not only do I like it far better than I expected, but it could have found a real place with students and teachers. It's demise, though, along with the uncertain future of HP's PC business, begs the bigger question of what happens to a brand in education that gained huge market share with rock bottom prices and solid servers.

I've bought a lot of HPs over the years. I've bought them for myself, but more to the point, I've purchased, recommended, or authorized the purchase of hundreds of HP desktops, laptops, servers, thin clients, and Windows Multipoint solutions. Overall, especially on the server end of things, I've had no complaints, and haven't found anyone else able to compete across product lines on price. Acer may undercut on laptops, Dell might swing in a little under on server hardware, etc., but HP hardware and software licensing has been very aggressive. And what school CTO doesn't like cheap, reliable hardware?

Those same CTOs, however, generally don't like uncertainty. And despite HP PR reaching out to me to assure me that they will "continue to focus on HP PC products for the education market", if Hewlett Packard plans to spin off their PC business for a potential sale, then uncertainty is precisely what you have. Most schools and colleges have already made their summer purchases for fall rollouts and there are going to be more than a few pallets of HPs ready for deployment (or being deployed as we speak). Most likely, networks of resellers will continue support, regardless of what becomes of HP's PC division.

However, you can bet that a lot of future purchases will be going elsewhere. Dell is an obvious choice and Lenovo has stepped up its education game considerably. Apple, of course, remains clearly in the picture with its iPads and various laptop and desktop offerings and, with OS X Lion Server a mere $50 in the Apple App Store, is a compelling choice.

However, who can provide comprehensive end-to-end solutions (laptops, desktops, servers, thin clients, printers, etc.) besides Dell? There are many who would say that the cloud has obviated the need for such solutions and made on-premise servers irrelevant. Still others would say that hardware hardly matters in a Web and app world. Hardware, after all, is just hardware. Even I would argue that learning and collaboration platforms are more important than any given hardware solution.

And that may, in fact, be true. However, countless K12 and post-secondary institutions are still choosing to build infrastructure, rely on thin computing solutions, or require on-premise servers to meet specific security or performance needs. As the market stands now, only Dell can meet those needs with a single contact with any degree of likely longevity.

HP, it's clear, wants to become IBM, which has a very active role in education at the datacenter, data warehouse, data mining, and business intelligence/analytics markets. Will HP be able to penetrate this market effectively? And will it matter? There are solid, established solutions from SAS, IBM, and many others to meet these needs. And the need to give students and teachers access to a variety of learning platforms with actual hands-on devices? HP may still deliver, but I don't expect to see schools racing for HP equipment in the coming buying cycles. Unless, of course, HP starts selling its servers as cheaply as it did its remaining stock of Touchpads.

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Topics: Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, iPad, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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14 comments
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  • RE: The Touchpad and HP's future in education

    So not Apple then? No way you'd look at Apple's "Mac Mini Server"? Or "Mac Pro Server"? I'd agree that this isn't exactly what I mean when I say "server" either, but outside the enterprise, maybe it'll work. There is something to be said for "servers" that can be redeployed to the desktop (or desktops that be redeployed as "servers").

    Weirdly it all reminds me of a simpler time, Novell Netware and the little "Red Boxes". A time when a "Server" was a PC in a tower case.

    Sure neither a Mac Pro or a Mac Mini is quite what I'd call a "server".

    Or Lenovo? They have laptops, desktops, workstations, and servers. Why not them? If you stay away from the "consumer" stuff (stick to the "Think" brands) then their stuff is very good. Oddly their "ThinkStations" are quite compelling. And we all love ThinkPads (don't we?)
    Jeremy-UK
    • RE: The Touchpad and HP's future in education

      @Jeremy-UK Schools aren't "outside the enterprise," though. A well-run school/district is run very similarly to a private enterprise, and has similar IT needs.
      ParrotHead_FL
      • RE: The Touchpad and HP's future in education

        @ParrotHead_FL
        Education ! Why not apple.
        http://www.ommrudraksha.com/products/110-1-mukhi-rudraksha-bead.aspx
        rudraksha1
  • 'Bye-bye, TouchPad'? The world did not even say 'Hello, TouchPad' -- this

    ... device was a miscarriage, grand failure for HP as company, and for John Rubenstein personally.<br><br>While working at Apple, "analysts" gave him credit for making good company's hardware. John did great job there, correct, but as his later career at Palm and HP proved, he does not immanently have high standards of quality and ambition for the projects he is running.<br><br>Rubenstein could only push boundaries when he was under demand of Steven Jobs, who is barely ever satisfied with anything, and throws away lots of "not bad" and "good" ideas and designs until he finds the "best" one. (Not to say that the end result is always actually the best one, but at least Jobs tries to achieve this -- relentlessly and mercilessly.)
    DDERSSS
  • &quot;a brand in education that gained huge market share with rock bottom prices

    Aye. And there's the rub!
    Userama
  • RE: The Touchpad and HP's future in education

    You'd think the writer of an education column would know to say "its demise" and not "it's demise".
    JoeShlabotnick
  • You mean...

    ....Apple's future in education, right?

    I'm a graduate student at the largest university in California, it's no coincidence I am seeing more and more Apple-branded products on my university campus.

    Furthermore, all of the professors were given--wait for it--iPad 2s as it was cheaper than maintaining current printing costs.
    JuanGuapo
  • Linux

    HP has been going downhill ever since Carly got in. Apple treats the Ed market like a redheaded stepchild. Last year they killed the Xserve because it "wasn't profitable," a few weeks ago they offered us a crippled iMac for $999 and recently I get an email from my Apple Ed rep touting $139 off the recently discontinued Air they just replaced IF I buy them in lots of 10, gee thanks Steve. Time to abandon all the proprietary stuff and go Linux and open-source.
    vudutu@...
    • RE: The Touchpad and HP's future in education

      @vudutu@... Linux may be the answer, but it doesn't address what brand of hardware are you going to use?

      All the brands cited can run Linux.
      sbf95070
    • RE: The Touchpad and HP's future in education

      @vudutu@... with regards to brands of hardware to use, I think this is becoming less and less relevant in the server space, and is almost there in the desktop space. With the steady growth in maturity of cloud solutions, this will soon become a none issue, and the only issue will be how fast?, how do I connect?, and where can I connect from?....of course some will say we are here now.....

      Schools will find it a better financial proposition in years to come when they can move expenses to a known opex budget ledger, and not having to have as much capex to think about....the whole school centric IT infrastructure (except for network) is and will be one of the hardest things for schools to get past, mainly due to either a lack of knowledge or lack of wanting to lose "control" over there network and systems....
      remember..it is about educational outcomes and not IT here.....
      rbance67
    • RE: The Touchpad and HP's future in education

      @vudutu@... with regards to brands of hardware to use or server OS to use, I think this is becoming less and less relevant in the server space, and is almost there in the desktop space. With the steady growth in maturity of cloud solutions, this will soon become a none issue, and the only issue will be how fast?, how do I connect?, and where can I connect from?....of course some will say we are here now.....
      rbance67
  • RE: The Touchpad and HP's future in education

    Why buy MAC OS Lion Server for $50 when you can get real server SW for $60 (Windows 2008 R2) or Linux for free....Schools these days need to be Enterprise Class. Apple does not fit in this space I am sorry to say...no matter how much they want you to believe it...I can tell you that no Enterprise class organisation that I know of is a MAC Shop (maybe Apple are of course and yes I am sure there are others) and I have been around in this space for a while predominately with blue chip fortune 500 companies....but things like IPADs are consumer class and as such do not scale as easily as other solutions...
    rbance67
  • Follow up Idea

    I agree that the TouchPad, or any tablet, is an incredible upgrade to any classroom. I made this FB group hoping people might donate some of their bulk-ordered TouchPads!

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Padlanthropist/240905212617789

    Spread the word!
    mmanni02
  • Uncertain future of HP&acirc;??s PC business

    Its demise, though, along with the uncertain future of HP?s PC business, begs the bigger question of what happens to a brand in education that gained huge market share with rock bottom prices and solid servers?
    http://www.queentorrent.com
    Queentorrent