Hewlett-Packard has made the surprising decision to get back into the tablet game. The company says that its device, which will be known as the Slate7, will be available in April for $169. The tablet, which is running Android, is designed to take on the lower-end of the slate space, including devices from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google and even Apple. And at such a low price, many folks are listening up to see what else HP has planned.
The trouble is, HP shouldn’t have wasted its time trying to deliver a tablet to the marketplace without first thinking about the rest of its operation. HP, despite its financial success, is in a difficult position. The company has watched its market share dwindle due to rising competition from Lenovo. It has no presence in the mobile market and its Autonomy acquisition has ignited a burgeoning investor revolt. Simply put, things are not going well at HP. And Meg Whitman needs to address them sooner rather than later.
Read on to find out what HP should do in the coming months besides launch a tablet:
1. Quell unrest among directors, shareholders
According to reports, HP is having all kinds of board issues right now. The company’s chairman, Ray Lane, is being called on by big investors to step down. Two other board members are also facing the chopping block. The company is reportedly trying to quell the unrest. But so far, it’s been unsuccessful. Let’s hope HP addresses that before it’s too late.
2. Address Lenovo’s growth
Lenovo has become a huge threat for HP. The company continues to inch closer to becoming the world’s largest PC maker. Just about every market researcher believes it’ll eventually leave HP behind. Meg Whitman needs to prove those people wrong and fix her PC business or be forced to sell it. Since Dell is in trouble, the time is right for HP to make up some ground on both Dell and Lenovo.
3. Figure out what to do with Autonomy
When HP made the decision to acquire U.K. software company Autonomy, many believed that it was a mistake. Now, it’s clear that it was. Whitman and her management team need to address investor anger about the acquisition and try to find a way to derive some value from the company. To not to do so now would be a huge issue for HP.
4. Focus on the enterprise first
The corporate world is arguably the best chance HP has at turning things around. Corporate customers are still heavily invested in HP technologies and for the time being, they aren’t going anywhere. So, why not work on enterprise products and ensure they stick around? It’s the smart move for HP.
HP Must Do a Lot More Besides Launch a Tablet: 10 Other Major Tasks
5. Reassure investors on management
In addition to concerns over HP’s board and Autonomy, major investors in the company are expressing concern with management’s ability to turn things around. When HP holds its annual shareholder meeting in March, the company can use it as a springboard to show that management knows what it’s doing. After a poor showing at CES, it’s exactly what HP needs right now.
6. Take advantage of Dell’s problems
Dell’s troubles could very well be the secret to unlocking HP’s success over the next several years. Once Dell finally goes private, the company will need to go through the arduous task of reorganizing the business to be leaner and more profitable. Dell is also expected to focus heavily on the cloud. Meanwhile, HP can try to make inroads into Dell’s PC business and steal some server market share. While Dell is down, it’s certainly not out. HP must remember that.
7. End the non-computer consumer moves
HP over the years has made the ill-fated decision to try and appeal to consumers in the living room and in the office. It’s a mistake. Today’s consumers don’t look at HP like a company that actually knows what it’s doing. They look at HP as an enterprise computer company that wishes it could be Apple. Enough is enough. HP must end all attempts to appeal to consumers in non-computer markets and focus on the enterprise.
8. Improve the channel relationships
One of the important things Mark Hurd did during his tenure as CEO was focus on channel vendors to ensure they were happy. By doing so, he was able to dramatically improve HP’s corporate sales and revive its business. Since he left, however, HP hasn’t been the same in the channel. Its recent troubles seem to prove that.
9. Spend cash on innovation
HP has made several poor decisions over the last few years as it tried to throw its cash around. Now, though, the company can redeem itself. Stop spending money on things that don’t matter, such touch screen-based desktops. It’s time to start focusing on innovative ideas that will drive the future. Tablets might fit that bill in some eyes. But considering the company’s recent track record with slates, it’s better for HP to focus its efforts elsewhere.
10. Become Microsoft’s best friend
By announcing an Android-based tablet, HP is now putting itself in direct competition with Microsoft’s Surface tablet. That’s a mistake. Right now, Microsoft is dying for a vendor partner that will help it make inroads into the marketplace with Windows 8. That’s HP’s opening. As history has proven, being Microsoft’s buddy in the computing space means getting preferential treatment. And HP needs some of that right now.