HP's Slate 7 is just the beginning. The company sees the writing on the wall: if you add in all the iPad sales, Apple — not HP — is selling the most computers these days. So, faced with declining PC sales and the growing popularity of Apple's slate, HP has decided to build an entire portfolio of tablets, both Android and Windows, to maintain its position in personal computing.
"We need to be in the tablet space."
"HP is the number one PC manufacturer in the world, and we want to be the number one computer vendor in the world. That means we need to be in the tablet space."
That's Alberto Torres, the man tasked with making it happen. Eighteen months ago, HP's tablet and smartphone business sputtered out of existence. Six months ago, it began anew: under the leadership of SVP Alberto Torres — formerly of Nokia — the new HP Mobility business unit started designing the company's future.
So far, that future is starting slow: The HP Slate 7, shipping this April, isn't exactly a flagship device. Instead, HP is targeting a $169 price point. "We're targeting the consumer who really wants an entertainment solution," Torres says. "We're far more competitive [than the Nexus 7], but it won't be competitive with something that's $300 today."
However, later this year, Torres says that will change. "On the tablet side, it's entirely our intent to have a broad set of products on the market... to cover more segments of the market we'll need more products, and you'll see us aggressively pursue that over the year."
While Torres is holding the cards close to his chest, he suggests that we might see a "work and play" tablet to go along with the entertainment-focused Slate 7, among other things. HP wants to produce both Android and Windows tablets at a variety of different price points, Torres tells us, and gave us a general range to expect: he says that the devices HP is looking at are "bookended" by the $169 Slate 7 and HP's business-focused ElitePad 900, which retails for $699.
"Not carpet-bombing the world"
When Apple managed to win the market with a single all-purpose device, why is HP building a whole range?
"I'm a big believer that you need to have a focused portfolio of great products, not carpet-bombing the world... but whatever is the winning product in the US might not have the same success in India and China, and we're a global company," Torres says.
"You'll definitely see more products from us this year."