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HP aims to grow Asian SMB sales

No stranger to the SMB space, Hewlett-Packard wants a bigger piece of the Asia-Pacific pie.

BEIJING--Hewlett-Packard isn't just confident of growing its small and medium-sized business revenues, it's confident it'll grow faster than the industry.

Speaking at the HP Smart Office media conference here, Dennis Mark, HP Asia-Pacific's vice president of marketing for the Personal Systems Group, said the company is targeting to grow its SMB business in the Asia-Pacific by nearly 17 percent over the next 12 months, starting from November 2005. This is above the industry growth rate of 11.3 percent, he claimed.

Mark added that he was confident HP would be able to increase its market share and dominance by growing at 1.5 times the industry average.

To achieve this, Mark said HP would continue to expand its portfolio of SMB services and develop new geographical markets. "In many countries, minus Singapore probably, there are many cities in the outskirts that are not effectively covered by either the IT vendors or their partners. Our job is to go there and help proliferate the use of IT among the SMBs."

HP also plans to continue to engage country-specific industry associations to look at new ways to promote the use of IT, Mark said.

According to market analyst IDC, there are 63 million SMBs in the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, and this figure will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.6 percent between 2005 and 2009.

Mark said the requirements of SMBs vary from country to country, depending on the level of market maturity. In Southeast Asia, security and enhanced communications solutions are more widely used, while a mature market like Korea would be interested in mobility and business protection, he explained.

Besides China and India, which are key markets for HP given the market sizes, Mark said there is also strong growth in Southeast Asian markets such as Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand.

Midmarket push
HP also hopes to address the midmarket with new industry-specific solutions through its partner network targeted at 17 verticals, including banking, healthcare, construction and manufacturing. HP defines the midmarket as companies with 250 to 999 employees.

The new worldwide program, which has been rolled out in Hong Kong, India, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan, will be extended to other countries in the Asia-Pacific region by early next year.

IDC estimates the IT spending of 14 verticals in the region, excluding Japan, will grow at a CAGR of 10.5 percent, from US$22 billion in 2004 to US$36.2 billion in 2009.

At the one-day media conference, HP also announced seven new color printers, including a multifunction printer and four laser printers equipped with its new ColorSphere toner technology.

According to Mark, HP invested over US$150 million in its Smart Office portfolio for the Asia-Pacific region over the last 12 months. The investment covered products and services, channel partner training, enhancements in its online resources as well as marketing programs.

Adrian Koch, senior vice president of HP's Personal Systems Group, said HP is prepared to invest more in the SMB market. "Probably more than any of our competitors," he noted.

Vivian Yeo reported from Beijing, China.