HP Adds Laptops, Desktop to SMB Mix

At an SMB event in San Francisco, Hewlett-Packard is looking to show its commitment to what has become a major contributor to the company's bottom line.

Hewlett-Packard intends to show its commitment to small and midsize businesses with updated versions of its Intel-based desktop and Advance Micro Devices-based laptops that are specifically geared toward this side of the IT marketplace.

At its Art of Small Business conference in San Francisco, the Palo Alto, Calif., IT giant plans on rolling out 12 products and services that it hopes will fulfill the needs of SMBs and emerging-market customers.

In addition to some of these other technologies, which include a server, storage products and network switches, HP plans to offer an updated version of its Compaq dx2300 micro-tower desktop with Intels Core 2 Duo processor and two laptops—the Compaq 6515B and 6715B—that include dual-core Turion 64 processors from AMD and wireless LAN support.

While HPs enterprise offerings usually garner the most attention, company executives said the SMB market in North America and emerging markets in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America have become an increasingly critical part of the companys bottom line.

"What we wanted to do was have a conversation with our customers and our partners and explain to them what HP was doing in the small-business space," said John Dayan, vice president for marketing for HPs Americas region.

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"Small and midsize businesses represent about a third of HPs worldwide business. We have continued to gain market share in this category, and it is an important market for our products and our services," Dayan said.

One of those SMB customers is Mike Hyles, the owner and lead broker of the RE/MAX 1st Choice agency in Pleasanton, Calif. With only eight employees, Hyles makes almost all of his businesss IT decisions himself. Since 2002, he has used a number of HP products, including desktops, tablet PCs, digital cameras and printers.

The two biggest concerns as an SMB for Hyles are keeping current with technology and having one vendor—in this case HP—that he calls for service, since his company lacks a dedicated IT administrator.

"A lot of the real estate business is keeping out in front of the competition that is chopping away at our heels," Hyles said. "One of the reasons I go to different shows is to keep up with whats current."

As with other OEMs, HP has worked to tailor different products to SMBs.

For example, while the desktop market has continued its decline, HP executives believe that there is still a place for these PCs within the SMB and other markets.

On March 12, the company introduced a number of desktop models with energy savings technology specifically geared toward enterprise customers. Now, with its SMB announcement, HP is offering a refreshed version of its Compaq dx2300.

Greg Morris, a product marketing manager for HPs PC Business Group, said that in addition to almost any SMB, the dx2300 can also fit with specific verticals such as education and government institutions.

"What you have here is a PC with the most current technology that is very affordable," Morris said.

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The dx2300 desktop offers Intels Core 2 Duo processor as well as Pentium D, Pentium 4 and Celeron D chips. The PC also includes Intels 946GZ Express chip set, a maximum of 2GB of RAM, a Serial ATA (SATA) hard drive with up to 250GB of memory, a DC-RW/DVD combo drive and eight USB ports.

The model also comes with either Microsofts Windows Vista operating system or XP. A basic configuration starts at $499, according to HP.

On the mobile side, HP is rolling out updates to two of its laptops, the 15.4-inch Compaq 6715B and the 14.1-inch 6515B. HP is offering a range of AMD processors in each notebook, including single-core Sempron chips and single- and dual-core Turion processors.

The two notebooks also include AMDs M690T chip set and offer a maximum of 4096MB of RAM and SATA hard drives with up to 160GB of memory. The 6715B weighs 5.7 pounds, while the 6515B weighs 5 pounds.

The two notebooks come with Microsofts Vista operating system or Windows XP, and both are certified for Novells SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10.

The most noticeable additions to these two notebooks is support for 802.11a/b/g and draft-n wireless LAN. The laptops also now include new data encryption tools and features like HPs QuickLook, which allows users to check e-mail and other information whether the PC is turned on or off.

Both the 6715B and the 6515B will be available in April, with wireless LAN support coming in May. The starting price for the two laptops is $649, according to HP.

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