[zdnet] The tablet parade is kicking into high gear as HP’s TouchPad becomes available for sale July 1. HP joins RIM, Motorola, Samsung and a bevy of others in a long line of companies trying to compete with Apple’s iPad. What’s the master plan for these rivals: Juice enterprise sales.
It’s quite possible that tablet makers could fare well by becoming business players as Apple runs away with the consumer market. The consumer market is ruled by price and performance (and more the former). Given that most Apple rivals are pricing their tablets exactly the same as the iPad, it’s going to be tough to win over customers.
In other words, rivals aren’t telling us why their tablets are necessarily better than the iPad, which enjoys good word of mouth marketing.
The enterprise is a bit of a different story. In fact, the enterprise tablet market has its own quirks that can open doors—and maybe market share—for challengers. Simply put, the enterprise isn’t going to sweat pricing differences as much. Why? There’s volume discounting and bundles. For instance, HP could sell a slew of TouchPads in an enterprise PC deal. RIM can toss in PlayBooks with a smartphone or BlackBerry Enterprise Server upgrade. Motorola and Samsung could get their tablets to companies via carriers. Dell can move its Streak tablets via healthcare services deals with its Perot Systems unit.
Apple can—and does—play the corporate game to a degree, but isn’t exactly known for its volume discounts. Apple also doesn’t have an enterprise bundle to sell. Apple has a small enterprise swat team that targets verticals like legal and convinces them to go with the iPhone-iPad juggernaut.
But when push comes to shove, tablet challengers like HP are better equipped to sell you a tablet on the cheap and make up the different on services, maintenance or some other revenue stream.
Integration also matters for enterprises, which is why Microsoft can become a tablet player despite sitting out the first and second waves in the industry. If Microsoft can integrate with Office, SharePoint, SystemCenter and legacy apps better than any other tablet maker it has a good enterprise chance ahead.
If you assess the moving parts, Apple’s enterprise tablet effort revolves around consumerization. Workers are bringing the iPad to the office and the C-suite has bought in. Apple on its earnings conference calls will highlight a bevy of companies piloting or deploying the iPad.
But consumerization only goes so far. The challengers’ best shot will be the enterprise. In corporations, the tablet game is more about RIM vs. HP, Samsung vs. Motorola and Dell working the verticals.
Assessing the corporate tablet field: Why the enterprise may be different