Computing

ANALYSIS

HP Affirms ‘Better Together’ at Its Amplify Event

HP Amplify Partner Conference, March 29, 2023 in Chicago
HP Amplify Partner Conference 2023 in Chicago

HP last week, at its Amplify Partner Conference in Chicago, unveiled several new laptops with a focus on productivity, along with a few peripherals, including printers and genuinely wireless headphones.

However, the Amplify event was not only about new products. There was an emphasis on HP’s environmental commitment and the company’s position that 80% of employees prefer to spend some time in the office.

According to HP’s Future of Work research, below-average technological expertise is the most significant obstacle to implementing hybrid work.

Expansive Product Refreshes

HP positions the new HP EliteBook 800 and 805 G10 Series PCs as cutting-edge business convertible computers. These EliteBook start at $1,569 and are equipped with a 13th Gen Intel Core CPU and HP Presence technology.

HP Presence provides innovative technology powered by an advanced proximity sensor located in the bezel of the PC, which detects the user’s presence, and triggers the camera and Windows Hello to confirm, identify and unlock the PC.

In addition, the HP EliteBook 600 and 605 G10 Series of mid-range PCs start at $999 and come with either Intel or next-generation AMD CPUs. The HP ProBook 400 and 405 G10 Series PCs are the most affordable work-grade computers, starting at $799 with AMD and Intel CPU options.

At the event, HP introduced the ZBook Firefly G10 and ZBook Power G10 with Intel Evo certification under the ZBook family.

The HP ZBook Fury G10 is the most potent workstation in this series, featuring a 13th Gen Intel HX series of processors with Nvidia RTX 5000 Ada Lovelace Generation Laptop GPU, intended to provide fast rendering of 3D models and running simulations. The ZBook Studio G10 is a high-end workstation featuring up to an Intel Core i9 CPU and Nvidia RTX Ada Generation Laptop GPU.

Together with new computers, HP also unveiled a new pair of True Wireless Stereo (TWS) solutions dubbed Poly Voyager Free 60 with certifications for use with Microsoft Teams and Zoom.

TWS-designed audio solutions permit users to experience true stereo sound quality without utilizing cords or wires. At a starting price of $229, it is available in three variations that include an optional but very convenient touchscreen charge case.

With the Poly Studio X Series of video bars and the Poly G7500 modular video conferencing system, HP also launched the Poly Video OS 4.0, certified for use with Microsoft Teams and Google Meet.

During the Amplify Partner Conference, HP also unveiled a few accessories, including the HP 920/925 Ergonomic Vertical Mouse, which goes on sale this month for $109, and the HP 4K USB-C Multiport Hub, which goes on sale in May for $79.

Commitment to Channel Partners

HP used the Amplify Partner event to announce that it would add Poly, Teradici, and HyperX product lines to its Amplify Partner Program.

This smart move will help its channel partners leverage the breadth of HP’s growing product portfolio. HP also announced it would increase compensation for qualified partners that sell a wider variety of goods, including those from Poly, as well as an element to encourage more partners to participate in the vendor’s Amplify Impact campaign, which focuses on sustainability.

When its Amplify program expands this autumn to incorporate the acquisitions of video conferencing company Poly, remote computing software supplier Teradici, and gaming accessory creator HyperX, HP believes these new businesses will generate additional incremental revenue prospects for channel partners.

These channel opportunities should grow as HP plans to increase the program’s perks and services for distributors by adding new supplier partners to Amplify.

With HP’s recent acquisitions integrated into Amplify, a greater range of goods and services previously covered by separate programs from Poly, Teradici, and HyperX will now be eligible for program benefits and resources. As a result, partners will have additional opportunities to qualify for Amplify’s Power and Power Services tier, which provides increased perks.

With these moves, it’s clear that HP wants to benefit its channel partners with enhanced program components that drive heightened engagement with partners who consistently sell across HP’s broad products and solutions portfolio. This way, partners won’t have to switch programs between HP and its most recent acquisitions, including Poly.

Clearly, HP wants to make doing business with HP easier, as complexity could be challenging for partners who market these different product lines. To that end, one of the significant themes echoed by HP at the event is that channel partner feedback fuels any changes that the company undertakes.

Adjusting to Market Conditions

Let’s face it: like its competitors, HP is working through a significant post-pandemic downturn in the PC space. Despite sluggish market conditions, there is optimism that Windows 11 should ignite a badly-needed upgrade cycle, particularly in the corporate and enterprise markets.

At the beginning of the conference, HP CEO Enrique Lores was refreshingly candid in commenting that it could take several quarters, spanning into 2024, before a meaningful market rebound might happen.

Moreover, the electronic document age, spurred by the smartphone, has pushed HP’s vaunted printer business into a relatively flat position over the past six years. The company reported printer segment revenues of $18.9 billion in 2022, down from its 2008 high of $29.6 billion.

Despite that unavoidable revenue erosion, largely a result of the cannibalism effect from smartphones and other connected devices, HP should be commended for innovations such as its highly successful Instant Ink subscription program, a new eco-friendly laser printer line that cuts energy use by 30%, and its reduction of plastic packaging components by 78%. With these efforts, HP has succeeded in keeping its printer business relevant, which is not an easy task.

HP also announced new SMB-targeted color laser products, dubbed the HP Color LaserJet 4200/4300, that are more compact than existing models and preconfigured to manage printing adjustments on the fly.

Its new Color LaserJet Enterprise 5000/6000 offers similar enhancements for business office environments with significant daily printing needs. The ability of these new printers to do some light editing to printable documents directly from the printer without a PC is particularly intriguing.

Remote PC Management, Security

During the Amplify event, HP continued to show off its technology chops with new enhancements on the PC security front with HP Wolf Connect.

Only available in its business laptop lineup, HP Wolf Connect allows IT managers to track, lock, manage, and wipe remote laptop drives even when powered down. This capability is facilitated by embedded technology that operates with a low-power cellular radio, ensuring that the device can be accessed when the laptop is powered off or not connected to the Internet.

With hybrid work not likely to change over the next few years, if ever, this level of security and asset management should be highly appealing to cost-conscious CIOs and CSOs.

It’s also easy to envision this capability coming to HP’s consumer product lineup at some point since content creators and SMB users who buy consumer PCs will value that feature, even at a premium price.

‘Better Together’ Not Just a Tagline

Despite market uncertainty, I think HP deserves credit for pulling out all the stops to ensure that the company has appropriately positioned itself to exploit the growth opportunity that will occur when the PC market returns to a healthier position.

Integration progress with the Poly and HyperX acquisitions appears to be paying initial dividends at a product and channel partner program level. With more than 85% of HP’s overall revenue derived from its channel partners, leveraging these new acquisitions for cross-selling opportunities provides enormous potential. Still, simplification and reduced channel program bureaucracy must be a high priority. HP seems to get that “failure is not an option” business fact.

HP likes to utilize the “Better Together” mantra to highlight the features which users can benefit from when different devices seamlessly interoperate, as is the case with HP’s new HyperX and Poly headset solutions that do not require a dongle for out-of-the-box pairing.

Because of its comprehensive product portfolio, HP is one of the few companies other than Apple that can make “Better Together” more than just a marketing tagline. Finally, HP has an enormous opportunity to evolve the very nature of how the PC is perceived.

At the conference, Alex Cho, president of the Personal Systems business at HP, argued that the phrase “laptop” is outdated because of the mobile “studio” attributes, e.g., high-quality video conferencing with professional audio quality, that portable PCs are now often used for.

I agree with Cho strongly, and this new philosophical positioning of what today we call a laptop has enormous implications for the industry. We may look back a few years from now and see that this was when the evolution of the laptop began.

Mark N. Vena

Mark N. Vena has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2022. As a technology industry veteran for over 25 years, Mark covers numerous tech topics, including PCs, smartphones, smart homes, connected health, security, PC and console gaming, and streaming entertainment solutions. Vena is the CEO and Principal Analyst at SmartTech Research, based in Silicon Valley. Email Mark.

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