HP introduces new products for Asia Pacific SMBs

PCs, workstation models, iPAQ handhelds and LaserJet printers launched at New Delhi Smart Office event

Hewlett Packard (HP) introduced new products geared towards the small and medium business or SMB market in Asia Pacific and announced enhancements to its portal that caters to this particular segment.

In its annual Smart Office event held in New Delhi, HP launched two desktop PCs meant for SMBs -- the HP dx7300 and the HP dx2700 -- priced below US$400. Also launched were new workstation models, two new iPAQ handhelds, a thin-client PC and at least four new HP LaserJet printers (including a multifunction printer priced at below US$599).

Some of these new products are developed in HP's design centers located in India, China and Taiwan.

Analyst IDC forecasts the Asia Pacific SMB market to spend approximately US$66 billion in IT by 2010, growing annually by 10 percent over a five-year period. SMBs account for almost half of the HP's total commercial business.

In his keynote speech, Adrian Koch, Asia Pacific senior vice president for HP's Personal Systems Group mentioned four key trends in the SMB market: higher IT "IQ" among users, increased digitization of content, adoption of software as a service and increased requirements demanded of SMBs by suppliers and regulatory environments.

By higher IT IQ, Koch says SMBs are paying more attention to IT and expect vendors to be more than just box-pushers and provide solutions specific to a users' line of business.

"You now see SMBs moving away from a white box environment," he said. "The do-it-yourself time is over and they (SMBs) are looking for tailored solutions. SMBs have more complex requirements and expect suppliers to have business knowledge."

Moreover, Koch said smaller companies are looking for solutions while at the same time looking for ways to minimize costs. Thus, he predicted Web-based hosted applications to be the "wave of the future" for SMBs.

"Overall, these trends are fueling IT spending among users in the region," he said.

According to HP, the Asia Pacific region contributes about 17 percent to its total global revenues, growing year-on-year by almost 10 percent. About 90 percent of HP's client base in the region belongs to the SMB market.

HP also re-launched its HP Total Care portal meant to address requirements of SMBs, including customization and post-sales support. The portal will be supported by call centers although HP official did not mention expansion plans.

HP operates support centers located in India and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia that deliver post-sales and pre-sales support, respectively.

The revamped portal aggregates support and other related customer services for all of HP's product lines, said Dennis Mark, HP's vice president for marketing in Asia Pacific and Japan.

"Previously, a lot of our support services are done piece meal," Mark said in a session with reporters. "We expanded the portal into a 24/7 site for stronger e-delivery."

HP also plans to customized services available on the portal on a per country basis.

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