Having announced its departure from the tablet business last month, Hewlett-Packard yesterday announced a new device aimed at the business market called Slate 2.
The device will run the Windows 7 operating system and Intel’s Atom chips, and is aimed at organisations in sectors including "education, healthcare, government and retail, where jobs frequently take users away from a traditional desk" HP said in a statement said.
HP says the Slate 2 has a number of features designed to appeal to the enterprise market. For example, a barcode and magnetic stripe reader can be added on for retail business, while an embedded security chip can be controlled by the user "to increase secure user authentication, improved personal secure drive integrity, secure email and support protected digital certificate applications". HP will also offer a paid-for remote data-wiping service for the devices.
This move is yet another u-turn in HP’s personal computing strategy since the Meg Whitman was appointed CEO last month. Former CEO Leo Apotheker had put plans in motion to sell off HP’s PC division, kill its WebOS mobile operating system and cease production of HP’s Touchpad tablet.
At the end of October, Whitman announced that HP would be keeping its PC business after all, saying that the costs of spinning the business off would be greater than HP could expect to recoup. "HP objectively evaluated the strategic, financial and operational impact of spinning off PSG," Whitman said. "It’s clear after our analysis that keeping PSG within HP is right for customers and partners, right for shareholders, and right for employees."
So far, no tablet based on Windows and Intel chips has been a commercial success (although beyond the iPad, few of any kind have). HP is betting that the popularity of Windows among businesses give the Slate 2 an advantage in the enterprise market.
Windows 8, the next version of Microsoft’s operating system has been designed with tablet use in mind, although its release date is still unknown.