Hewlett-Packard is adding new entry-level hardware to a product line aimed at buyers in emerging global markets as well as small-to-medium sized businesses.
HP's ProLiant server could cost as little as US$499 depending on configuration and a point-of-sale desktop computer for retailers that costs under US$1000. HP is also launching two notebook computers that start at US$649.
The hardware does not have the latest and fastest features of HP's more expensive products. For instance, the HP ProLiant ML115 server is offered with a single core processor, while higher-end servers come with at least two, and often more, cores. But these SME-targeted machines have features that small businesses look for, HP says.
"They want them to be easy to buy, easy to use and easy to maintain," says Ray Boggs, vice president for small-to-medium and home office business research at IDC.
Smaller businesses, just starting out, don't have a lot of money or an IT department to maintain their computers so vendors try to focus on the design and pricing of their products for that market. The same goes for buyers in emerging economies who may be purchasing their first computers.
Competitors such as IBM and Dell are also targeting the SME market, particularly in countries such as Brazil, Russia, India and China, Boggs says. The SME market spent $400 billion on IT globally in 2006. "That has attracted a lot of attention," he says.
HP's new notebook offerings include the Compaq 6515B and the 6715B. The 6515 comes with a 14.1-inch diagonal screen while the 6715 offers a 15.4-inch diagonal screen, says Carol Hess-Nickels, director of worldwide business notebook marketing for HP. They are all built for use on wireless networks and often come with a docking station for use in an office.
There are other features specifically designed with the small business owner in mind, Nickels says. For instance, a security feature encrypts all the data onto the hard drive as it is being written and saved. That's important because small business owners often have most or all of their company's data on their laptops as they take them to client meetings, on trips and elsewhere.
"A laptop is much more likely to be left in a taxi cab than a desktop," she says.