Tablets have gained market traction faster than almost any other computing device. It seems everyone loves tablets. Actually it seems everyone loves Apple iPads. According to data from ABI Research, Apple’s tablet has a commanding 65 percent market share. Many of the established PC providers like Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Dell have attempted to capitalize on their manufacturing prowess to break into the tablet market, but to date the attempts have been less than successful.
However, PC makers are not admitting defeat. Meg Whitman spent an entire week discussing HP’s strategy for the future in conjunction with the company’s annual HP Discover conference. According to Whitman, HP’s strategy is not focused on reinvention. HP is simplifying its structure and reducing its staff size. The company is refocusing on its traditional core competency – infrastructure, and this includes a reentry into the tablet market.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Whitman said in spite of public perceptions that HP is struggling, HP’s PC is big enough to be Fortune 50 company if it were on its own. Whitman continued,
“This fall, we’re obviously coming out with a Windows 8 tablet. We need to move faster into tablets than we have in the past and we’re going to do that.”
Whitman is confident that this time the company’s attempt to enter the tablet market will be more successful than the webOS-based TouchPad, How could it not be? HP discontinued and then dropped the price of its tablet from $499 to less than $100 after only a few months on the market. A Windows tablet would have to burst into flames or something equally catastrophic to do worse.
Dell is also counting on demand for Windows 8 to rejuvenate its tablet business. The company attempted to compete with Apple’s iPad with the Dell Streak, but only blazed a streak of failure. The company continues to offer the Latitude, but the tablet has no significant market share. It’s likely that Dell will heavily target the enterprise market with its offering. At an analyst briefing, Dell Australia managing director Joe Kramer took at jab at the allure of the iPad saying, “people might be attracted to some of these shiny devices but technology departments can’t afford to support them.”
I’m not sure a Dell slogan of, “Our new Windows tablets are dull and boring, but hey, they work.” is the direction that the company should take.
A lack of consistent experience and poor marketing may be at the root of Dell and HP’s lack of traction in the tablet market to date. They will have access to both in Windows 8. Neither HP or Dell is likely to crush Applet, but they do have a solid opportunity gain a profitable share of the tablet market once the Windows 8 app ecosystem begins to take off. Both companies have deeper experience with Windows based devices than with webOS or Android. They should be able to use this experience to better position their new offerings.