HP debuts made-for-business mobile lineup

HP Elite x1

HP Elite x1

NEW YORK CITY – HP kicked off its 2015 campaign with the introduction of a new tablet-centric mobility lineup that it described as among the first mobile devices that seek to solve the dual and often conflicting challenges of meeting mobile needs while still appealing to IT’s demands.

The new lineup includes eight products, mostly in the tablet or convertible genre, that run a variety of Windows and Android operating systems, and seek to not only make mobile devices IT-compliant citizens of the network, but to bring tablets and other mobile devices closer into businesses’ workflows.

“Mobility is transforming the workplace – how people work, play and live, but IT has not kept pace with it, and we believe HP is uniquely positioned to meet that need,” said Ron Coughlin, senior vice president and general manager for personal systems in the printing and personal systems group at HP.

Perhaps the flagship of the new launch is the HP Elite x2 a “PC replacement tablet” that ships with a “power base” that includes a full keyboard and extra battery capacity. Although it’s clearly designed as a mobile executive’s device, Michael Park, vice president and general manager of business mobility at HP, said the primary design point is “for someone sitting in coach to work productively.” The Elite x2 is the first device from HP to support a wireless dock based on Intel’s WiGate technology, allowing users to pair wirelessly with displays and peripherals automatically once within range.

The company also introduced the Pro Slate 12 and 8, which it describes as the first commercial Android products in the market, instead of being “consumer devices that got repurposed for commercial roles.” The devices have a unique 4×3 screen, and support what the company calls the Duet Pen, a stylus based on ultrasound that does not interfere with, or get interfered with by, touchscreens.

The company rounded out its commercial tablet lineup with the Pro Tablet 408, a Windows-based offering for the “price oriented” market. Although clearly aimed at the value-seeker, the tablet does boast Windows 8 Professional, meaning it can easily fit in to corporate networks.

As part of an effort to go deeper in vertical markets, the company introduced the education-focused Pro Tablet 10 EE and Pro Slate EE, tablets running Windows and Android respectively and aimed at the educational market where clients “are not exactly easy on the product,” as Park puts it. The ruggedized tablets are designed to be used by students in K12 schools, and are intended to both survive the abuse those clients can met out, and meet IT management requirements. The decision to support both Windows and Android was made because in many cases, Park said, the decision on a platform is made at the school level based on what applications are available that meet a teacher’s need. Accessories will be common across the two EE tablets, and include a simple detachable keyboard and a stylus that can be bound to the device.

Park detailed the company’s strategy beyond devices to support IT management and supervision of devices. In a two-prong strategy, Park described HP’s Enterprise Services team offering a variety of services to enterprise from assessment and definition of mobile needs and chllenges, through to deployment and true mobilization.

“You can’t just drop off a device and say ‘Good luck,’” Park said. “You havce to havce he services, have the go-to-market wherewithal with your partners and your ISVs to make sure they’re getting the value they want on mobile IT transformation.”

And in the SMB space, Park detailed the company’s recently launched TouchPoint Manager, a cloud-based platform for managing workstations, PCs, tablets, and smartphones across a variety of platforms.

Today, TouchPoint is largely offered on an agency fee model through partners, although Park suggested – and its positioning as an IT management-as-a-service offering hints – at a broader role for channel partners in the future as multi-tenancy is built in, making it a better play for managed service providers and other partners that want to get more involved than simply reselling the service.