HP Wages Enterprise Mobility War

By Michael Singer

February 02, 2005

Notebooks, iPAQs, and partnerships will help the company's fixation with reclaiming the No.1 spot from Dell.

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- HP launched an aggressive campaign to supplant Dell as the No. 1 enterprise notebook maker.

In the first in a series of mobility-focused announcements scheduled for this year, the company said it will throw every notebook, advanced PDA, Tablet PC and smartphone it can at the market to boost its sales numbers.

In addition to products, HP said it will help telecom service providers evolve voice and data networks for content-rich services. HP said it would also leverage its industry alliances to help fuel its products, services and infrastructure.

Under the banner of "2005: The Year for Mobility," HP is also using its alliances to gain that competitive edge. The company announced fresh partnerships with Microsoft, Nokia, and Good Technologies in order to cater to small to medium sized businesses.

HP said it expects to expand the offerings to its larger corporate clients and its consumer division as well. HP's kickoff comes one day after Dell revamped its desktop and laptop line up. PC sales statistics from analyst firms IDC and Gartner both show Dell with a healthy lead over HP in desktops and laptops, with IBM right behind in third.

With IBM selling its PC division to Lenovo, Ted Clark, senior vice president and general manager of Mobile Computing at HP said the time was right to make a move on both Dell and IBM.

"Absolutely, we are going to retake the number one position for notebooks," Clark told internetnews.com. "Our research indicates that customers are getting weary about IBM's exit from PC sales. We cover the spectrum like no other company and we are consistently delivering best in class products. It's a bold prediction to be sure, but we will let the products speak for themselves."

HP Compaq nx9600 Series Notebook PC
nx9600 Series Notebook PC
Source: HP

Clark said the issue is not that HP can't get to number one, it's just that the company has spent a fair amount of time focused on the back end. HP was behind the scenes on the original launch of the Starbucks T-Mobile hotspot craze. Some 70 percent of the world's SMS messaging is processed through an HP Open View system and 90 percent of CDMA traffic is processed by HP, Clark said.

To get its enterprise groove on, 10 new HP Compaq enterprise notebooks made their debut today including the Intel-fueled HP Compaq nx9600, nc8200, 6200, 6100, and nc4200 business notebook series.

Clark also said Tablet PCs would continue to play a part of HP's strategy and is pricing its tc4200 at $1,599 to encourage more companies to adopt the platform.

HP company announced plans for a next-generation iPAQ Mobile Messenger with Smart GPS, integrated keyboard, EDGE technology (2.5 G), and global positioning. An HP spokesman told internetnews.com the new devices should be available in the company's second quarter (May or June) and HP is expected to detail more of the devices at the 3GSM World Congress later this month.

HP Compaq tc4200 Tablet PC
tc4200 Tablet PC
Source: HP

Clark said an HP-designed smartphone was in the works for this year but declined to commit the company to either a Microsoft or Symbian operating system and did not disclose any further design specifications.

HP's handheld push may be mis-timed. A report from IDC today said the worldwide market for handhelds experienced its fourth successive quarter of year-over-year decline during the fourth quarter of 2004. In spite of shipments growing 37.4 percent from the third quarter (due to the holiday season), they fell 18.7 percent (to 2.8 million units) compared to the fourth quarter of 2003.

Clark said he felt confident that a combination of PDA and similar form factors still had a market that HP could take advantage of.

To help on the backend, HP announced a new hosted e-mail service based on Microsoft Exchange 2003. In addition, HP plans to include Good Technology's GoodLink software on future iPAQ releases, including the new Mobile Messenger device. The combination GoodLink software managed through Microsoft Outlook and Exchange environments creates a "push" e-mail environment, Clark said.

Also helping bring its sales numbers in line, HP Financial Services is now offering customers a low payment option. The company's Budget Stretcher lease program gives customers up to $150,000 of new equipment or services on a lease term of up to 51 months.

"Compared with large enterprises, SMBs are more mobile and spend more on mobile services," Forrester Research Principal Analyst Michelle de Lussanet said in a statement. "Based on surveys among large IT executives carried out in 2002 and 2003, Forrester estimates that 20 percent of enterprise workers are mobile. But relying on fewer desk-bound support staff, mobility in SMBs surpasses this. We estimate that at least 30 percent of SMBs have staff that is mobile."

Still in that "mobility" vein, HP's partnership with Nokia will result in a digital pen and specialized paper that can connect through current cellular networks. In a case scenario, Clark said a salesman on the road could have the customer sign a contract and have the document instantly transferred to the backend servers.



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