HP ElitePad Needs a Partner Push

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Hewlett-Packard's well-equipped ElitePad 900 promises to be a "true" tablet for businesses, but if HP wants to be successful, it may want to push the tablet through a wide base of channel partners and resellers to creating a strong link between partner, product and demand.

HP_ElitePadHewlett-Packard Co.'s latest tablet, the HP ElitePad 900 (pictured) is set to be HP's poster child for the world of business tablets. It comes well equipped with Windows 8 Professional, Intel Inc.'s latest Atom CPU, a 10-inch high resolution display, baked-in security and a slew of business-ready peripherals, like a docking station with video out, styluses and a Bluetooth keyboard. The built-in SSD will support up to 64 GB of space and an extra battery "jacket" will prolong its life.  If requested, there's even an optical drive add-on.

HP's efforts with the ElitePad are noble.  It's targeting the productivity-driven mobile workforce with a no-compromise solution. This tablet also is much better equipped than its flagship predecessors, like the HP TouchPad and the HP Slate and Slate 2. But with such a business-oriented design, are HP's business partners looped into the latest, especially with the growing demands for mobile devices in the workplace?

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For a closer look, Channelnomics reached out to the  Ingram Micro 500, a listing of the top SMB VARsa cooperative effort with The 2112 Group, the parent organization of Channelnomics. See The Matrix (SMB# 469), a Charlotte, NC-based HP partner that specializes in systems and software, offered a small statement.  They have not yet heard of HP's latest tablet. "We haven't worked with [that tablet] yet, and we resell mostly computers. Not a lot of our clients are looking to buy tablets," said a spokesperson who wished to remain anonymous.

That sentiment was shared at Doman Networking Services Inc., (SMB# 31) a Bloomington, MN-based systems and services company, also an HP reseller. Steve Doman, president and owner offered short words on the ElitePad. "We haven't heard any demand from our customers yet, but we hear a lot more on the ASUS tablets."

Translation? There's room for improvement. HP should be using its expansive partner community as a vehicle to create wide support. But if HP won't take its message to its partners, it may mean another flop, especially if HP wants the tablet to live up to the hype as "the true tablet for business."

To be fair, HP has slated the tablet to start shipping "late" January -- which any day now. HP may have a more concrete partner plan in place once units start rolling out, but interestingly, orders for the ElitePad can only be made through 5 major resellers, one of which is CDW. It seems unusual HP is not providing any direct sales, but it could mean HP is still formulating a unique plan of attack -- one we'll still have to wait for.

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