In mobile device era, Hewlett-Packard recommits to PCs at HP Discover

Ed Scannell, Senior Executive Editor

LAS VEGAS -- Hewlett-Packard reaffirmed its commitment to PCs this week and in the same breath said it is focused on access to information from anywhere, on any device.

HP debuted two lines of PC systems at its annual HP Discover conference here, along with a collection of cloud-based printing products and a Windows 8 Pro tablet for retailers to use as a point-of-sale device.

The company has had a tumultuous ride in the tablet market. It pulled out of the consumer tablet space in 2011 when it killed off its TouchPad, but delivered an Elite Pad for businesses in October 2012. HP re-entered the consumer tablet space with a Windows 8 tablet for consumers earlier this year.

HP executives said the latest products address the "new era of IT" being driven by the rapid proliferation of mobile devices and growing adoption of the cloud by IT shops both large and small.

"We are focused on helping users move from the physical to the virtual world as easily as possible by being able to manage and access information no matter where they are from whatever device they use," said Todd Bradley, executive vice president of printing and personal systems at HP.

It would be good to see them try something innovative in the broader market.

HP plans to roll out a support service for larger IT shops this August. HP Priority Services is a collection of PC support services designed to bolster help desk personnel.

One conference attendee was encouraged by the new support services program for PCs but was somewhat surprised by HP's ardent commitment to PCs and the lack of any information about future mobile devices that company officials said they are committed to delivering.

"The service program for PCs appeals to me. I guess we'll have to wait and see what new mobile devices they are talking about here," said an IT professional at a Chicago-based design engineering company.

HP's mobile roadmap in question

Representatives for HP said it will focus on four areas in this new IT era: devices that are "cool," new hardware form factors, greater manageability from silicon to the cloud and professional services. But it was the first two that left some scratching their head.

"People are waiting to see if HP will jump back in with its own mobile devices or whether it will just support and manage others' devices," said another IT pro who requested anonymity. "It would be good to see them try something innovative in the broader market."

The two desktop PC lines, called the HP Pro and HP Elite Series, include all-in-one models and are available with optional touchscreens. The systems also have integrated near-field communications, a technology that makes it easier to share files.

The HP Retail Jacket for the Windows 8 Pro ElitePad, the company's first tablet intended for business use, is based on its existing ElitePad and is designed to fit into retailer's infrastructure so mobile salespeople can tap into their stores' servers.

The updated HP ePrint Enterprise 2.2 includes integration with mobile device management software from Good Technology.

Among the company's cloud-based imaging software was HP Relate, which helps create personalized documents from anywhere inside a Salesforce.com environment, and HP Flow CM Professional, a cloud-based content management tool.

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Should HP focus on mobile devices?

Ed Scannell, Senior Executive Editor
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