HP’s TouchPad Play Is To The Enterprise

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HP will draw on its business user base to help its TouchPad tablet challenge Apple in the enterprise, says Bill Wohl

The launch of HP’s TouchPad has all the chaos one would expect from a gadget launch. While HP hopes the tablet can challenge Apple’s iPad, its operating system, WebOS, is supposedly a threat to Windows.

The TouchPad can be preordered in the UK,  and will reportedly arrive on July 15, while early reviews in the US have revealed niggles. Meanwhile,  stories are emerging of a second generation, with more memory and different colours, as well as the improvements HP has promised.

What makes HP think it can impose order 0n all this  and come up with a winning strategy? A few days before the TouchPad touched down, we asked Bill Wohl, HP’s chief communications officer what the big idea is. In a few words, the answer is – apparently – HP’s business sales channels.

Despite the strong performance of the iPad and the growing presence of Android, Wohl thinks there is room in offices for a tablet that CIOs can trust – at least that is what he told us, and a couple of other journalists.

There is room for another tablet

First, Wohl dealt with something close to HP’s heart – the decline in the PC market. Is that due to tablets, and is that why HP is so keen to succeed with the TouchPad, we asked.

Wohl thinks PC sales have slowed – at least in the consumer space – much more because of the economic downturn, repeating what his boss Leo Apotheker told an earnings call with analysts: “Consumers are making the choice today between whether to refill the tank of gas in their car or refresh their PC.”

Wohl and Apotheker go back some way – Wohl is a long time veteran of Apotheker’s old home SAP, and is one of the senior SAPpers Apotheker has bought into HP since he took over.

Wohl has found his feet at HP though, and is keen to promote the tablet which HP is basing on technology it acquired with mobile maker Palm, and has rebuilt into tablets,

Is HP late into the race? “No, the tablet is not a sprint but a marathon,” said Wohl.

“A lot of folks would like to say the tablet is a mature market, they ship millions of devices and it’s done. But the reality is there are some 40 tablets in the market and it is the first time this form factor has caught on, particularly in the consumer space. We see it as very early in the tablet market.”

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