"HP has a chance to out flank RIM and Apple for tablets sold into the enterprise."
Five years ago (2006), Palm was the darling of the smartphone industry with their award-winning Treo. Then, in 2007, the iPhone was introduced, taking the user experience to a new level without a response from Palm. In 2010, HP acquired Palm and set out to regain some respect in the mobile market by leveraging webOS, one of the best operating systems created for mobile.
HP has just formally introduced the TouchPad, their first tablet product based on webOS. Although it’s not full baked, HP has a real opportunity to make it a hit with the enterprise while they work on enhancements to the platform that will allow it (eventually) to become a viable competitor to the iPad in the consumer market. Here’s why.
The iPad is clearly a consumer device but used by many business professionals. It’s not yet a corporate standard as most enterprise IT organizations take time to adopt new computing platforms. It’s pretty easy to get access to email and to use DropBox to get access to and view files while out and about.
Now, add to this the fact that the RIM BlackBerry PlayBook has also been announced and is focused on the enterprise market. But, as I said in my recent Inside Mobile column (April 27), the PlayBook doesn’t do BlackBerry native email and is missing a number of components that will take many months for RIM to fully correct.
Enter the HP TouchPad. It has email. It has a great OS. Development for the TouchPad is based on web development standards that the enterprises require. While it’s not a device ready for prime time with consumers, it can become a great device for enterprises -- thus nudging out the iPad and PlayBook. HP should put a stake in the ground before other tablet makers completely usurp the workplace sector. Cisco has announced the Cius Android-based tablet for the enterprise (but isn’t yet shipping) and Apple will clearly make the iPad more enterprise-friendly over the next couple of years.
Here’s what HP should do to in order to make the TouchPad a winner in the enterprise:
- Email – point out to enterprise IT how the TouchPad works with Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes. Provide support services to enable enterprise IT staff to quickly configure the TouchPad for the enterprise environment including adding VPN as necessary.
- Video conferencing – work with Vidyo to provide video conferencing to the TouchPad to counteract what Cisco will do with Cius and WebEx.
- Mobile hotspots – work with Connectify to enable a ‘managed, secure’ mobile hotspot so the TouchPad can act as a communications gateway for the rest of the employee’s mobile devices.
- App Catalog –create an enterprise version of the webOS App Catalog, not viewable to the public, that will assist enterprises in managing their TouchPad apps. This will enable enterprises to create new TouchPad apps and offer a way to easily distribute and manage them.
- Device & cloud sync –create an enterprise version of iCloud, making it easy for enterprise users to keep their contacts, calendar and email in sync wirelessly. HP could achieve this quickly by doing a partnership with or acquiring Funambol and its competitor to iCloud called MediaHub.
The TouchPad has a display with resolution of 1024 x 768, is 13mm thick and comes with front facing camera for video chat. It is provided in two sizes: 16Gbytes or 32Gbytes of storage. It supports Adobe Flash and includes a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm.
It’s going to take longer for HP to do what’s necessary to make the TouchPad a big hit with consumers. They need to create something equivalent to iCloud and work with major studios to facilitate access to music, TV shows, movies and other rich media.
HP has a goldmine on their hands if they can just execute and provide support for the enterprise. They have a real chance to out flank RIM and Apple for tablets sold into the workplace.
J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D.
Mobile & Wireless
Disclosure Statement: From time to time, I may have a direct or indirect equity position in a company that is mentioned in this column. If that situation happens, then I’ll disclose it at that time.