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Hewlett-Packard is bundling a tablet with a $399 printer

The bottom line: HP’s decision to bundle a tablet computer with its new $399 printer could make trouble for competitors.

HP’s New Tablet Could Be an iPad Spoiler – BusinessWeek

HP took the control panel display from a printer and made it detachable. The idea, according to the manager in charge, is that this will encourage printing. Printing is a good business for HP because they manage to charge $7500 per gallon of ink.

I suppose there can be some sense to this idea but I don’t use inkjet printers so I can’t judge how popular this can be. But the headline suggestion that the new display panel cum web pad is “an iPad Spoiler” calls into question the author’s motivations. Maybe he did it for a bet.

But the real gem is a quote from Richard Shim an IDC PC analyst who says “Everyone is trying to figure out the opportunity for these types of devices, how to position media tablets in a way that they don’t cannibalize other businesses.”

That’s an interesting comment coming from a PC analyst. It says that the vendors in the industry are already feeling that the iPad is substituting regular PCs (and hence the need for a response that is sustaining not disruptive).

This acknowledgment means it’s only a matter of time before the idea of iPad as PC morphs from crazy talk to conventional wisdom.

  • MattF

    I dunno. A detachable printer control panel may not be a great idea– I can just picture an angry mob in the printer room deciding exactly what painful things to do to the person who walked away with the control panel.

  • Gandhi

    The idea of HP wanting to somehow tie the tablet to the printing business brought up an interesting theory. Everybody is trying to shoehorn the latest wave of technology (Touch Computing) in to their existing business bread and butter.

    Google with their search/advertising business
    Microsoft with their Windows/Office monopoly
    HP with printing
    RIMM (are trying) with corporate email
    Other PC makers trying to make a laptop without a keyboard – and use Windows or Android

    While touch interfaces have been around for a long time (ATMs, credit card checkout, etc.), when it comes to touch *computing* Apple certainly was a pioneer in terms of bringing it to the masses.

    While OS X is certainly the foundation, and in that sense it is not completely new, Apple is the closest to starting with a clean sheet when it comes to touch computing, and more importantly, their core competency of designing easy to use hardware and software adapts extremely well to this new computing paradigm.

    The converse is that Apple set the ground rules by commercializing first, and the market by being reactive rather than proactive, are simply following by trying to emulate Apple but are trying to shoehorn touch computing to their business model (square hole, round peg), in short time period.

    The problem is that you have to start from scratch. None of the PC makers have that competency. And has been argued here and elsewhere, Nokia is the same with respect to cellphones.

    All the competitors cannot let go of their existing business gravy train. They are too scared of the unknown success potential of their touch computing offering. I remember the quote from Steve Jobs when the iPhone debuted in 2007: "if iPod sales are going to be cannibalized, I rather it be us than the competition" What started out as a replacement for the iPod has morphed in to the replacement for consumer computing thanks to the App store. While not at that stage yet, software developers are going to follow the end customers and stop developing for Windows. Sure there will be development for the big iron corporate needs, that is specialized niche stuff.

    If Microsoft does not react fast enough, its Windows cash cow will be slaughtered, taking along all the computer makers with it. You will know that Windows is dead when Microsoft announces Office suite for Android and iOS.

    • Rob Scott

      I do not expect Microsoft to build office for non Windows tablets. Tablets are the biggest threat to the Windows and Office monopoly. If tablets win Microsoft lose, because they will be forced to charge $15 instead of their usual ridiculous OS and Office prices.
      Having said that, tablets make more sense for the majority, even in business. Its very few of us who run 100Ks of rows of data in excel. Most office workers do their work on powerpoint, word and outlook and those run fine in a tablet.

      • ChuckO

        What if iPad takes over the world? Wouldn't Microsoft rather sell office on iPad than see iOS AND the Apple office suite win by default?

      • dms

        I see this happening anyways. With Google Docs and Apple's iWorks, people will start finding that they can do 90% of what they used to do with Office with a free/cheap alternative. Not only that, the iPad and Google Docs apps have the simplicity and ease of use that make them MORE productive for a lot of people.

        If corporate users start replacing their laptops with iPads en masse, this could become a real problem real fast for Microsoft.

  • Tom

    From the original post, Grant commented, “The irony is really kind of silly that HP is giving away the future if you will agree to buy the past.”
    The disruption of the iPad, surfing on the crest of the future, is beyond the periphery of HP, who doesn’t want to let go of an outdated business model: “Print everything you see!” and pay them $7,500 a gallon to do it!

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      That is poetic. Where did the Grant quote come from?

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Nevermind, I found it in the comments to the original article. Well said.

  • famousringo

    HP has this all wrong. Tablet computers are a threat to their printing business, not a blessing. You don't need to print off a document for somebody when you can hand over your tablet to show them, and you don't need to print off an e-mail attachment for yourself when you can carry it around in that tablet in your briefcase.

    Cheap, ubiquitous, and lightweight tablet computers are going to be the biggest boost to the dream of a paperless office since e-mail.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      This is a good point. I read in a description of the way iPads were being used in a company that deployed many that it's common for people in a meeting to pass the iPad around to show something. This is seldom done with laptops. This use of the iPad is akin to the way paper is used.

      • http://worldturns.wordpress.com barryotoole

        The app ACT Printer 'prints' documents from your Mac, iPad and even from files stored in Dropbox, to your iPad, and you have that as a document in the app.

        I have used it to 'print' my driver's licence and passport (if I have to go to Arizona, since I'm a brown skinned immigrant and look like a Mexican), ticket reciept I had to show at a comedy club, etc. I'm sure it won't be long before you can have airline tickets on your iPad.

  • Kal

    Haven't we seen this before when they gave away iphone copies of a movie if you bought the DVD? The smart ones (in this case netflix) saw that the future was not owning the physical media but getting ubiquitous access to the content. The often bandied about term "cloud" with a truly mobile computing device will slowly but surely chip away at the traditional corporate IT structure.

    I remember reading an anecdote(maybe Mossberg in WSJ) about how a CEO loves to sit by the person he is making a presentation to and show it to him on an ipad.

    I guess Gandhi got it right when he said

    “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Re. Gandhi, wiser things things have seldom been said.

    • http://worldturns.wordpress.com barryotoole

      I believe you are talking about the Mahatma, and not the poster in this blog!

      • Tom

        Both!

  • http://www.castleink.com Castle Ink

    Can anyone recommend a good home printer? I don't need to print photos, just documents….

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Get yourself a real laser printer. I have an Apple LaserWriter from 1996 and it's still working. Cartridges cost around $100 and last for thousands of pages.