Personal computer (PC) maker HP on Tuesday expanded its portfolio of always connected PCs with the launch of the HP14s notebooks for mainstream users. These laptops have 4G in-built LTE of Reliance Jio, and other SIMs can also be used for services. According to the company, the new HP notebooks will fill a critical gap in the market by providing enterprise grade connectivity and security in an affordable price band — ranging from ₹45,000 to ₹85,000 — especially as millions of users have been forced to work from home during the ongoing global health emergency.

HP has been in the forefront of launching such products and services since the beginning of the lockdown. In an interview with BusinessLine , Vickram Bedi, Senior Director, Personal Systems, HP India Market, shares more. Excerpts:

This is one of the first cases wherein an OEM has tied up with an operator (Jio) for inbuilt LTE for laptops. Will this remain exclusive to Jio or is HP tying up with other operators too?

We have tied up with Jio that provides six month free data to consumers along with other long-term offers. However, HP14s devices are compatible with SIM cards from other leading telecom players as well.

How is the company coping during this pandemic?

When the lockdown was imposed in March-end, we noticed a sudden surge in demand from the enterprise segment.

With the restrictions easing, we are seeing strong demand from the consumer segment as well.

Most of our stores, service operations, barring those in containment zones, have opened. We have launched some additional initiatives like remote service support for users of all PC brands and contactless service on wheels to serve our customers.

Do you see an opportunity during this pandemic for the company?

The ongoing situation has clearly established PCs as an essential device. With work from home becoming the new normal, people need PCs to work, learn, earn, play and entertain. Even businesses, big or small, need PCs that offer mobility, security and connectivity to maintain business continuity.

How are the sales this time compared to the same period last year? When do you see the improvement in the market?

We are seeing strong demand from all segments of users. Initially, when the lockdown was imposed, we noticed strong surge in demand from enterprises. With restrictions easing, we are seeing robust demand from consumer segments as well. The current demand is stronger than during the same period last year.

How many PCs or laptops have you serviced so far during the lockdown?

It’s difficult to provide exact numbers but we are running multiple initiatives to serve our customers. Apart from our regular service operations spread across 300 cities in India, we are running a virtual service support for PC users of not only HP but for users of all brands. We also offer 24X7 whatsapp support to HP consumers; we have recently started Contactless Service on Wheels in select Indian cities.

HP had launched many initiatives in April for the customers. How has been the responses?

In April, HP introduced a free remote helpdesk for PC users in India and partnered with educational content providers like Gamooz in India to provide free resources to educators and students who have transitioned to remote learning. These initiatives were aimed at arming the consumers and organisations with the right set of tools and technology to cope with this change.

The response, therefore, has been extremely positive as it is helping end consumers to work, learn and earn from home. Besides, to support India’s fight against Covid 19, HP’s 3DP technology helped produced 1.20 lakh 3DP printed parts to manufacture 10,000 ventilators in India. These portable and highly affordable ventilators have been deployed for the treatment of thousands of Covid 19 patients.