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Wireless Voice, Tablets, The Cloud: The New IT Mainstream

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Mobile and outsourcing set to dominate as HP plans to spin off PC business and ditch tablets and smartphones to, apparently, focus on the enterprise.

James Alan Miller

James Alan Miller is Managing Editor of Tom's IT Pro. He is a veteran technology journalist with over seventeen years of experience creating and developing magazine and online content. Founding editor of numerous business and enterprise computing sites at the network, James headed up the After Hours section at PC Magazine, as well as hardware and software sections of various Windows publications.

Mobile and outsourcing to dominate small business spending as HP announces plans to spin off its PC business, ditch tablets and smartphones, and put the WebOS in mothballs to focus on IT computing.

Wireless communications, long a reality for IT pros in both the enterprise and small business, will reach a major milestone next year. According to research firm In-Stat, 2012 is when wireless voice will, for the first time, overtake traditional wireline services to become the largest telecom-spending category for small businesses of all sizes.

This doesn't mean small business will give up their wires anytime soon, however. After all, wireline data services ranks third on In-Stat's telcom spending list; followed by Cloud Computing services, which—as you would expect—are growing at the fastest clip.

For instance, small business Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) spending will increase by 190% by the middle of the decade, In-Stat reports. IaaS, one of the main categories of Cloud Computing, is where companies outsource hardware—including networking, storage, services, etc.—to third-parties that house and maintain the equipment. This type of arrangement's particularly attractive and advantageous to smaller outfits, which often have limited IT staffs and budgets.

Small businesses, like the general public and larger businesses, are also spending an ever-increasing percentage of their IT dollars on tablet computers. Chances are when you see your doctor, for example, she'll have an iPad or an Android-run tablet model tucked under her arm. Meanwhile, a couple of months ago, a television producer spoke to me in amazement at how large stacks of scripts have been replaced by iPads.

The most recent quarterly report from DisplaySearch demonstrates just how much the iPad and its ilk have turned the mobile PC market upside down. Thanks to the iPad, Apple overtook HP to become the top shipper of mobile PCs during the second quarter, the research firm found.

DisplaySearch defines mobile PCs as laptops and tablets, which I am not fully comfortable with—at least not yet. Tablets are great for consuming content, business or otherwise, but still have a ways to go to match notebooks when it comes to content creation, particularly for business documents. They will get there, however, which makes DisplaySearch's findings—although a bit ahead of the curve—interesting, nonetheless.

Of course, Apple won’t have HP to push around much longer. Today, HP announced it is looking to spin off its PC division and shutter its WebOS-run TouchPad tablet and smartphone business.

HP bought Palm a year ago for $1.2 billion to get into those markets and launched the TouchPad earlier this summer to decent reviews but a lukewarm response from consumers. Best Buy is said to have sold only 25,000 of its 270,000-unit stock of TouchPads.  Apparently, HP plans to keep the WebOS around, maybe for its printers or to license to others.

And, although HP is the world's largest PC maker, it—like all other desktop and laptop manufacturers—is feeling the pinch of reduced consumer and enterprise demand (thanks in part to tablets) for what are essentially very low-margin products. Like IBM, when it sold its PC manufacturing business to Lenovo back in 2004, HP is getting out of client hardware to cut its losses and focus on its IT and enterprise computing business.

The difference: HP is looking to get out while still on top. That was not the case with IBM.