Arik Hesseldahl

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Hewlett-Packard’s Todd Bradley Talks Tablets in the Enterprise (Video)

Todd Bradley, Hewlett-Packard’s executive vice president and head of its enormous Printing and Personal Systems Group, appeared on CNBC Friday, and talked about the state of the tablet computing market and HP’s pending place in it.

Obviously, the conversation between Bradley and CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo was intended to coincide with the release of Apple’s iPad mini, which hit store shelves Friday. So far, HP hasn’t participated in the tablet business in any meaningful way since the shuttering of its webOS business last year under former CEO Léo Apotheker. Since then, Bradley’s job under Meg Whitman has been to move forward with a tablet strategy based on Microsoft’s Windows 8.

HP’s play, Bradley tells Bartiromo, is to build tablets that appeal to the enterprise, with backward compatibility with all the applications they’re accustomed to running, and all the security and manageability features in Windows that tend to make CIOs comfortable. And he says that the company is prepping an ElitePad pilot program with 3,000 enterprise customers in the U.S.

The problem is that there’s already an enterprise-focused tablet — it’s called the iPad, and it has found its way into the hands and hearts of many CIOs already, including the CIO of no less an enterprise-focused company than SAP. A Gartner survey this summer found that 86 percent of enterprises plan to deploy “media tablets” — basically code for the iPad — this year, before HP’s ElitePad is on the market.

HP’s advantage, Bradley argues, will come from the fact that HP knows how enterprises buy their hardware, which is true if you’re talking about PC and servers. That edge applies less in the case of the so-called BYOD trend, where employees bring their own personally owned devices to the office. While Bartiromo presses Bradley to acknowledge that Apple is going to be a tough competitor, she lets him off the hook on this point.

Meanwhile, the scoreboard is in Apple’s favor. Apple sold slightly more than 14 million iPads in its most recent quarter, slightly outpacing HP, which, according to Gartner, is still the world’s leading vendor of personal computers, selling slightly fewer than 14 million. And while Bradley’s bases his assumptions on the fact that a lot of these tablets are staying home, used for playing games and watching movies, a lot of them are going to the office, as well. Dislodging them won’t be so easy.

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