Monday, December 23, 2013

Don't call it a comeback: HP getting into the tablet game with $250 Android slates

HP is looking to return to the tablet segment, and will likely launch five to six tablets over the next month.

Notebook manufacturers like HP haven’t fared well in the tablet segment. However, lackluster notebook sales mean that HP is looking to re-evaluate its stance in the tablet arena. Sources close to The Information have said that HP is looking to launch a bevy of low-cost tablets in emerging markets next year.

The tablets will either be 6-inch or 7-inch offerings, and will cost $250 off-contract and come with the ability to do calls. Such tablets outsell high-end offerings ten to one in countries like India and China, so it is a logical choice for HP to enter this segment. For instance, Samsung sells its 7-inch Galaxy Tab 3 in India for $250, and it is one of the best-selling tablets in the country.

Although the Galaxy Tab 3 does not feature any major hardware changes from the Tab 2, most buyers are inclined to buy the tablet thanks to the brand recognition that Samsung has managed to achieve in the country. HP also has a strong user base in India thanks to its notebooks, and it can use that to drive sales of tablets. Most international manufactures have ventured into the sub-$300 tablet segment in India, with Lenovo, Asus and Acer offering tablets in this category.

HP also stands to make significant margins by offering a tablet that has better hardware than what is currently available from other international manufactures. For instance, there are no tablets with 720p screens in the $250 segment from international vendors, and HP will have an advantage over others if it does bring out a 7-inch tablet with an HD screen.

Another factor is connectivity. With 4G LTE networks becoming mainstream in both China and India, launching a tablet with LTE for under $250 will give HP a lead in this segment. Qualcomm’s*Snapdragon 410 is the ideal SoC in this regard, as it features LTE bands for China and India.

However, HP*needs to act fast. Samsung is set to launch a total of four tablets across various price segments in the first quarter of 2014, and other manufacturers are likewise looking to refresh their current-gen offerings. For HP to have any chance in this segment, it needs to offer better hardware than other manufacturers, and make sure that these offerings are out in the market before other manufacturers launch their next-gen tablets.

Source: The Information

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