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Dell, HP execs lash out at Apple's iOS successes

Executives from rival technology companies Dell and HP spoke out against Apple this week, with a Dell executive predicting that the iPad will fail, while an HP executive criticized Apple's relationships with its partners.

iPad fail?

Andy Lark, Dell's global head of marketing, told Lisa Banks of CIO Australia on Tuesday that Apple's iPad will eventually succumb to Dell's Android- and Windows-based tablets because of pressure from an open enterprise market.

Lark congratulated Apple for igniting the tablet opportunity with the iPad, while predicting that the device will ultimately fall to more "open" competitors. “I couldn’t be happier that Apple has created a market and built up enthusiasm but longer term, open, capable and affordable will win, not closed, high price and proprietary,” Lark said. “[Apple has] done a really nice job, they’ve got a great product, but the challenge they’ve got is that already Android is outpacing them.

"Apple is great if you’ve got a lot of money and live on an island. It’s not so great if you have to exist in a diverse, open, connected enterprise; simple things become quite complex,” Lark added.

According to Lark, the high cost of additional accessories for the iPad makes the tablet inaccessible. “An iPad with a keyboard, a mouse and a case [means] you’ll be at $1500 or $1600; that’s double of what you’re paying," he said. "That’s not feasible.”

Lark's figures, however, are confusing, as it is unlikely that a keyboard, mouse and case would cost the same as an iPad. For instance, purchasing Apple's leather Smart Cover, BlueTooth keyboard and Magic Mouse would cost just $207.

The executive went on to indicate that Dell's long-term approach to tablets relies heavily on enterprise adoption. "We’ve taken a very considered approach to tablets, given that the vast majority of our business isn’t in the consumer space,” he said.

However, Dell is hedging its bets when it comes to tablet operating systems. “…Our strategy is multi-OS," Lark said. "We will do Windows 7 coupled with Android Honeycomb, and we’re really excited. We think that giving people that choice is very important.”

The PC maker has struggled to gain a foothold with its 5-inch Dell Streak 'tweener' smartphone and tablet. In December, Journalist Walt Mossberg called out the device as last year's worst-reviewed product.

Dell has begun showing off a 10-inch tablet that will compete with the iPad later this year.

HP focus

Promoting the future of its webOS, Stephen DeWitt, senior vice president of HP's Americas Solution Partners, criticized Apple on Monday for its poor relationship with its partners.

"Apple's relationship with partners is transactional, completely. Apple doesn’t have an inclusive philosophy of partner capabilities, and that's just absurd," DeWitt said in an interview with CRN's Kevin McLaughlin at HP's Americas Partner Conference in Las Vegas.

McLaughlin checked with several Apple and HP channel partners to test DeWitt's claims. "Unlike Apple, HP is very channel friendly. And if you have an issue with HP you can pick up the phone and talk to someone. That's something that's impossible with Apple. As an Apple partner, I can say that it really feels like they're holding you hostage sometimes," said one source from a solution provider.

Another source, however, was skeptical of HP's ability to compete against Apple and Google with webOS. "I don't hear much about webOS in the marketplace, and it's going to be tough to build a mobility practice around it," said one HP partner. "Apple and Android are the two established marketplaces out there. On the tablet side, why wouldn't you just get an iPad?"

HP has committed to an effectively all-in bet with webOS, a "prized asset" which the company acquired when it purchased Palm last year. Executives at HP, including former Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein, have indicated their plans to "double down" on the operating system.

Last month, HP unveiled a TouchPad tablet and a Pre 3 smartphone in an effort to catch up to Apple in the mobile space.