HP CEO Whitman Talks Tablets, Cloud as Part of Turnaround Message

HP CEO Meg Whitman.

The cloud could play an integral role in pulling Hewlett-Packard out of its current slump, according to CEO Meg Whitman.

“If we can make each of these business units function beautifully on their own right and then link it together in offerings like [converged] cloud, security, and our, you know, server storage and network business in unique ways,” she told CNBC in an Oct. 4 interview, according to a transcript released by the network, “I think we bring something very needed to the marketplace.”

Whitman’s quotes aren’t exactly groundbreaking—every other tech giant, it seems, is rushing headlong to embrace the cloud as the future. HP’s Converged Cloud unites HP Converged Infrastructure, HP Converged Management and Security, Converged Information and hardened OpenStack technology into a common platform for deploying and managing infrastructure.

That aside, Whitman’s comments underscore the idea that, even as HP progresses through a period of uncertainty, she has no intention of retrenching the company to focus exclusively on hardware, or chucking efforts such as the cloud that might not be revenue drivers on the scale of PC manufacturing.

Whitman is seeking to course-correct HP after her predecessor, Leo Apotheker, attempted to recast the tech giant as much more of a business IT shop. His $10 billion takeover of U.K.-based Autonomy was a way HP’s enterprise software portfolio; at the same time, he publicly suggested that HP sell or spin off its PC manufacturing unit. That sparked a tidal wave of criticism that forced him from office, and left Whitman with the unenviable job of steering the HP ship in a new direction.

HP stock plunged this week after Whitman told investors that HP’s problems would take some time to resolve. Certainly it will take more than a plethora of cloud-based offerings to turn the company around.

HP’s Tablet Future

In the course of her CNBC interview, Whitman mentioned HP’s renewed push into the tablet market with the ElitePad, which she termed “the first tablet designed specifically for the enterprise.” The device features a 10.1-inch screen, an Intel dual-core “Clover Trail” Atom processor, and a choice of either 32GB or 64GB solid-state drives.

The ElitePad’s competitive differentiator—highlighted by Whitman—is its “Productivity Jacket” with an integrated keyboard, SD card reader and connectivity ports. HP also plans on selling an “Expansion Jacket” that boosts battery life when paired with an “ElitePad Jacket battery.” The ElitePad runs Windows 8, Microsoft’s upcoming operating system designed to work with equal facility on traditional PCs and touch-screen tablets.

However, at least one analyst sees Windows 8 as a weak driver of HP’s future growth. “We are unsure if Windows 8 will prove to be as big of a catalyst as many think,” Sterne Agee analyst Ray Young wrote in an Oct. 5 research note, “as in our supply chain work, there is confusion into what form factors will actually sell, i.e., tablets, ultrabooks, and convertibles, as well as competitive pressure from [Microsoft’s] Surface tablet.”

Apple’s iPad will continue to offer formidable competition for any new tablet competitor, Young added, even in the enterprise: “It isn’t clear if another platform will gain traction.”

HP’s last foray into tablets, tbe webOS-based TouchPad, ended after then-CEO Apotheker pulled the plug on the device a mere six weeks into its marketplace release.

 

Image: drserg/Shutterstock.com

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