Remember when HP CEO Meg Whitman explained that there would be a big, fat market for business-class tablets loaded with productivity tools and extra security?
That was back at the start of 2012, when the world was still waiting for Windows 8 and Microsoft hadn’t announced the Surface. Since then, Whitman has called Microsoft an “outright” competitor.
But HP clearly still believes that business-class touchscreens will be hot. And now HP is trying to make Android the new operating system for businesses.
Yes, Android — not Chrome OS.
At CES this week HP showed off the Slate 21 Pr0, which uses Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) and will be available on March 6, starting at $US399, a price point that includes keyboard and mouse. HP the device in June and gave it a coming out part at CES, along with two new Windows 8 PCs.
To be fair, this isn’t a tablet. It’s a desktop PC replacement with a 21-inch screen. It’s more like a competitor to an iMac than an iPad.
But the work of turning Android into a business machine has been done and should these prove popular, it wouldn’t take much to pour that onto smaller tablets.
What makes this geared for business is that HP has loaded it with …
- Kingsoft Office Suite, a Microsoft Office competitor designed for Android.
- Citrix software, a popular way to connect a device to remote corporate servers. Companies can use Citrix to serve up Microsoft Windows and Windows applications over the network, without installing them on the PC.
- Software that let’s you connect to another Windows PC and display that PC on the Slate’s screen.
- Special security software that lets IT pros protect corporate info.
Will the $US400 price convince enterprises to buy these devices instead of Windows 7 devices or Chromebooks?
We’ll see. But given that HP is Microsoft’s largest PC partner in the U.S. market, according to Gartner, it’s and interesting, and powerful, experiment.
(By the way, Lenovo introduced an Android PC at CES, too, but is aiming that one at gamers and home use. 19.5-inch screen, starting at $US450.)
Here’s how HP is advertising the Slate 21 Pro.