We spent some time this morning with HP's Vice President and General Manager of the Mobility and Retail Solutions GBU, Michael Park, discussing the impending release of the company's Elite X3 superphone. While the Elite X3 is an exciting Windows 10 Mobile device in terms of its specifications, it's also ushering in a new computing platform. The Elite X3 is the first example of an entirely new category of device that HP (along with Microsoft and Qualcomm) is calling the "3-in-1," and, in fact, Park expressed his hope that Microsoft will further validate the new category with the rumored Surface Phone.
While today's 2-in-1 devices can transform from tablets into standard notebooks, the 3-in-1 adds in the smartphone form factor with its all-day battery life and high-performance communications capabilities. When plugged into HP's app virtualization backend, the Elite X3 becomes the first device that's been consciously engineered to function as a smartphone, a notebook (via the HP Mobile Extender), and a real PC thanks to app virtualization technology that allows businesses to run their Win32 apps via Windows 10 Mobile Continuum.
Here are some of the key points from this morning's inverview:
- If you're a Windows phone fan, then the Elite X3 will be a great high-end Windows 10 Mobile device with excellent battery life, performance, and accessory support. You'll be able to buy the device through the Microsoft Store and the HP Store, and for now it's an unlocked GSM device that's certified for AT&T but will run on T-Mobile as well. Verizon hasn't yet certified the device, and because it's not CDMA-certified the Elite X3 will not run on Sprint.
- Park used the analogy of Gatorade in describing the Elite X3 for consumers. Gatorade was developed specifically to help athletes stay adequately hydrated and to replace the minerals lost during intense exercise, but that doesn't stop many non-athletes from drinking Gatorade and enjoying the benefits. The Elite X3 was designed to meet the complex computing needs of businesses, but it nevertheless remains a class-leading Windows 10 Mobile device that should satisfy any Windows phone fan.
- The Elite X3 will usher in a new category to go along with "Bring Your Own Device," or BYOD, called "Choose Your Own Device," or CYOD. If you want access to email and other limited company resources, then you can bring your own iOS or Android device. If you want full support and access to all company resources, then you can choose the Elite X3. That's a basic choice that businesses are starting to offer their employees.
- At the same time, the Elite X3 is being positioned by HP toward the enterprise and the middle portion and above of the SMB market. Its value proposition is centered around its ability to allow businesspeople to get their real work done with a highly mobile and flexible 3-in-1 device that's capable of supporting all of the corporate Win32 applications. HP will be happy if you buy the Elite X3 as a consumer, but their focus is entirely on business customers.
- HP has put together some very nice technology to allow both the largest enterprises and mid-sized companies to leverage the new 3-in-1 category. HP Workspace is aimed at the mid-sized company that wants to run its core Win32 apps on the Elite X3 without the need to build out its own app virtualization platform. Workspace will be sold on a per-user subscription basis with Essentials and Premium levels, and pricing will be published in the next few weeks.
- The primary concept behind the Elite X3 is that a business user will be able to plug the device into a dock and it will seamlessly connect to their backend, authenticate as required, and provide access to all corporate resources and apps.
In short, HP is positioning the Elite X3 as a brand new kind of device for business customers, and will be selling solutions around the device through their resellers and corporate salespeople. The Elite X3 will be a great Windows 10 Mobile by itself, but when paired with app virtualization and other technologies the smartphone will transform into a powerful 3-in-1 device capable of meeting all of the computing needs of business customers.
Stay tuned for more information on the Elite X3 and HP's plans. In the meantime, let us know in the comments what you think about HP's 3-in-1 business strategy.