HP's Windows 8 tablet strategy against Apple

Can its emphasis on enterprise partners defeat an army of iPads?


After bombing with the TouchPad, and bowing out of creating a Windows RT tablet to compete against Microsoft's own Surface RT slate, HP has made it clear that its new tablet strategy is not geared toward consumers. But can its strategy to court enterprise customers with Windows 8 tablets be a winner as Apple continues to make inroads with large corporations with the iPad?

In an interview with CRN, John Solomon, HP's senior vice president of Americas sales for printing and personal systems division, claimed that the company has some "unique intellectual property" that it will use with its forthcoming Windows 8 tablets. Unfortunately for the impatient, Solomon declined to elaborate on what the unique IP is, but he did make it clear that HP is interested in pursuing the "under penetrated" commercial tablet market.

Microsoft sees the more robust Windows 8 tablets, including its own Surface Windows 8 Pro, as superior productivity machines for businesses compared to the iPad, which is making inroads among corporations based on its huge commercial success. HP believes its Windows 8 strategy will be unique due in part to its "high degree of channel engagement."

One concrete step toward that engagement is HP's recent decision to give partners 60-day financing terms, which Solomon believes will help those companies' cash flow as they purchase new tablets. Considering that it's competing against the BYOD movement, where employees can make use of the iPads they already own, it's not a bad start to spur adoption.

Without specifics on how an HP Windows 8 tablet experience will be different than any other Windows 8 model, it's hard to say how successful its strategy will fare. We now know it will also have to compete against the business-friendly Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 , which includes a stylus and robust encryption and VPN support (though running on Android 4.0).

Ultimately, courting vertical markets requires tailored solutions for their respective needs, and Windows 8 tablets will need to prove attractive for developers to create niche apps to service those markets. But one killer app created for the iPad instead could jeopardize the market for Microsoft's partners. Is touting superior security and "management" features going to be enough for HP to stand out?

What "unique intellectual property" do you think HP has that will allow it to succeed with its Windows 8 tablets? Do you think its enterprise-oriented strategy is the right one? Let us know in the Talkback section below.

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