Hewlett-Packard is augmenting its Microsoft strategy with the introduction of tablets based on Google’s Android operating system.
The long-time Microsoft partner has debuted new devices under the ‘HP Slate’ moniker at the GSMA Mobile World Congress to a somewhat underwhelming response.
The Slate joins HP’s fully-loaded Microsoft Windows 8-based ElitePad brand as a cheap alternative. However, in a market with no shortage of options, it faces the distinct possibility of being an ‘also ran’.
The Android Jelly Bean device comes with a 7-inch diagonal screen, weighing 13 ounces.
As a Google-device, it delivers familiar services like Google Now, Google Search, Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive and Google+ Hangout.
“To address the growing interest in tablets among consumers and businesses alike, HP will offer a range of form factors and leverage an array of operating systems,” says Alberto Torres, senior vice president, Mobility Global Business Unit, HP.
“Our new HP Slate7 on Android represents a compelling entry point for consumer tablets, while business-ready HP ElitePad on Windows 8 is ideal for enterprises and governments.
“When we looked at creating a real killer product for consumers, a very portable, very entertainment-focused device, we thought that Android was the better choice.
“Both will deliver the service and support people expect from HP.”
Yet Torres, who formerly worked for Nokia, remains adamant Microsoft would not be cast out of the tablet, confirming: “Of course, we continue to work closely with Microsoft on other products as well.”
The HP Slate7 joins the recently introduced HP Chromebook as part of HP’s push to offer access to the Google experience.
HP’s tablet offerings reside in the company’s newly formed Mobility Global Business Unit, established in September 2012 with the hiring of Torres.
The US$169 price tag could prove a point of difference for HP, with the product selling at half the price of an Apple iPad mini in America when it comes on sale in April this year.
*This article was updated from an earlier version
What does this mean for Microsoft and Windows 8? Can Apple be caught? Tell us your thoughts below