The traditional desktop PC is not yet doomed, but is going through a transformation, according to HP.
While laptops are becoming increasingly attractive to consumers and small businesses, the majority of sales to larger businesses are still of desktop PCs.
Speaking at the launch of a series of new products from HP in New York, Alberto Bozzo, the company's European personal systems group general manager of commercial products, said: "The reality is the desktop is not dead — it is transforming into something else."
Bozzo said innovation would come in virtualised client technologies such as thin clients, blade servers and blade PCs. "This is where the desktop is going. [Virtualisation] is small at the moment but it is an emerging technology — small from a volume point of view, but promising," he said.
He pointed to financial services, oil and gas exploration and digital content creation as the most likely markets for blade servers.
Karine Paoli, research director of the personal computing group at analyst IDC, said that, because of the higher cost of ownership, maintenance and acquisition, laptops will never have the same market share in larger businesses as they do in the SME and consumer space. Instead the desktop will remain the primary computing platform in the corporate space.
Because of that, Paoli said, "innovation in commercial desktops is important".
Thin clients are attracting interest in sectors such as financial services and healthcare, although growing from a small base.
At the event in New York, HP unveiled a number of business products, including small form-factor PCs, business laptops, workstations, additional technologies for its blade workstation, and five iPAQ mobile devices, including smartphones.
For example, the iPAQ Business Navigator and Business Messenger smartphones feature 3G and Wi-Fi, as well as GPS for location-based services such as Google Maps Mobile, which comes installed. HP also introduced tools to make such devices easier to manage for businesses, which it thinks will help sell the new devices to IT departments struggling to manage the various devices used by executives.
IDC's Paoli said: "The problem with converged devices is that they are not yet integrated by the IT department. They are still not supported by IT in many companies and that's what is changing right now. But even notebooks weren't handled properly [by IT departments] until recently, so it's not going to be easy."
Paoli added: "Here HP is against Nokia and [BlackBerry maker] RIM, who are making their devices more sophisticated, so the challenge is a very big one."