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While Apple’s iPad and iPhone may be turning heads with corporate workers
right now, HP is looking to change all that. HP’s
new channel chief Stephen DiFranco
tells Channel Insider that HP is looking
to sell its Palm WebOS-based smartphones through the channel. The WebOS will
also "show up on a number of devices" that partners can sell,
DiFranco said, but he refused to specify whether those devices would include
tablet computers or netbooks.

But most observers are expecting HP to do just that—ship its forthcoming tablet
computer with the new WebOS. And it sounds like HP plans to also sell those
tablets through the channel.

But can HP woo away corporate users who have been charmed by Apple’s iPhone and
iPad mobile devices? DiFranco believes that HP, with all its corporate
experience, has a better idea of what businesses are looking for when it comes
to mobile devices—security. And Apple doesn’t offer it, he says. Neither does
Google’s Android operating system, which is featured on several smartphones and
is slated to be the OS behind Cisco’s
forthcoming Cius tablet

In addition to security—such as the ability to remotely wipe the smartphone if
it’s lost—corporate users are looking for simplicity of use and the ability to
use business productivity products such as Microsoft Word, DiFranco said.

He has appointed HP channel executive Tom LaRocca to run the Palm channel
business at HP, and points out that some direct market resellers are already
selling smartphones such as the BlackBerry.

"There’s a demand for these devices through the channel," he tells
Channel Insider. He pointed out HP’s recent acquisitions of LeftHand, 3Com
and Palm
as enhancing the company’s efforts to provide all the technology pieces that
corporate customers need. "Channel partners can offer all the pieces
customers need, end to end."

Apple doesn’t sell its iPhone devices through channel partners.