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HP Says It Must Get Back Into Smartphone Biz

By - Source: Fox Business Network | B 22 comments

Re-entering the smartphone business makes sense, especially in countries where the form factor is the primary computing device.

In an interview with Fox Business Network on Friday (video), Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman admitted that the company will eventually have to re-enter the smartphone sector.

The company abandoned the smartphone and tablet sector last year after it acquired Palm and produced several devices based on its newly-acquired webOS operating system. The products tanked, causing HP to reorganize, let some workers go, and turn webOS into an open-source project. That said, it's understandable why HP would be skittish about re-entering the mobile market.

But as she points out in the interview, HP is a computing company, and it needs to take advantage of that particular form factor. In many countries, people can't afford to purchase a tablet, laptop or PC, thus the smartphone becomes the primary computing device. They'll do everything on that one device, and HP needs to take advantage of that scenario.

Right now HP is about 20-percent of the way through a five-year restructuring plan, a plan Whitman initiated as soon as she took the role of CEO. She currently expects slow growth to flat business in 2013 despite the company's efforts in Windows 8 products. But if HP does venture back into the smartphone sector, the company will have to "get it right this time."

"We are working on this," she said when asked when consumers will see an HP smartphone. "In the end I would love to be able to provide all the way from the most fabulous workstations to desktops to laptops to our tablets and convertibles all the way to smartphone," she said. "But we did take a detour into smartphone and we've got to get it right this time."

"And so my mantra to the team is 'better right than faster than we should be there,'" she added. "So we're working to make sure that when we do this, it will be the right thing for Hewlett-Packard and we will be successful."

Whitman also pointed out that HP recently took over the top spot in workstation sales from Apple. Later Whitman added that HP has no interest in purchasing all or part of troubled BlackBerry maker RIM. "No, that is not a direction that we're going to head."

There's a good chance HP will produce smartphones based on Microsoft's upcoming Windows Phone 8 simply due to the other Windows 8-based form factors the company plans to produce. These include desktops, laptops and the 11-inch Envy X2 hybrid tablet/laptop which just recently made an appearance at the Intel Developers Conference. But its efforts may be more enterprise-focused than consumer-based to serve as an added value for businesses.

"Email is one thing, but gaining access to confidential corporate data and true enterprise applications and being able to lock down and encrypt the data that's on the phone itself will become much more important," said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy. "You can administer a Windows 8 phone similar to the way you administer a PC, with encryption on the phone and very well-understood tools to be able to get access to corporate assets."

Whitman didn't give any indication as to when the company plans to release a smartphone, or what platform the company plans to use. Like the Envy X2, HP may rather wait until the last minute before revealing any sort of smartphone plan. Still, expect something to be revealed before the end of the year.

 

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  • 0 Hide
    DRosencraft , September 16, 2012 10:54 PM
    This will be a challenge for them. Even though they had good critical opinion of their last effort, and those who did use WebOS seemed to like it, they didn't sell that much, which is why they shut it down. For HP now they will have to overcome the perception that they already failed at this once, despite have actually had a reasonably decent product last time around. They're going to have to convince people that despite what happened last time, despite the competitors out there, and despite rejoining this fight when it's already so old, that they deserve a chance. That means doing something hardware and software wise that can really impress people. Not saying they can't do it, but it's going to be really tough.
  • 5 Hide
    Thunderfox , September 16, 2012 11:56 PM
    Android and Web OS are both open source. Make a version of Web OS that can run Android apps. Web OS is the best user experience I have seen on a mobile device.
  • 1 Hide
    lascar30 , September 17, 2012 12:02 AM
    Maybe they should make a phone with Android in first start? Then, when WebOS is good enough for mobile, make a phone with it.
  • Display all 22 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    killerclick , September 17, 2012 1:05 AM
    The smartphone market is overcrowded. Apple and Samsung are the only ones making bank (Apple much more than Samsung), and now that Microsoft and Nokia are trying to muscle in, it's going to get even tougher.

    HP's been trying to reinvent themselves for the last 10 years, but I doubt smartphones are going to do it for them. Maybe make 3D printers? Or what IBM did (although they lack IBMs gravitas)
  • 2 Hide
    visa , September 17, 2012 1:31 AM
    The more the merrier. We need as many companies making phones as possible.
  • 5 Hide
    captaincharisma , September 17, 2012 1:42 AM
    so what poor company are they going to buy and decimate now?
  • 0 Hide
    memadmax , September 17, 2012 2:35 AM
    IMO HP had their chance with WebOS but they stuck their nose up at it...
  • 1 Hide
    bunkgoats , September 17, 2012 3:25 AM
    Dig a hole, fill it in. Dig a hole fill it in. That's (regrettably) the new hp way. So sad this company used to be great.
  • 2 Hide
    jaksun5 , September 17, 2012 3:37 AM
    HP touchpad as the Number 2 tablet in the US when it was dumped. It's still better than Android in user experience. Imagine they'd actually run with if for the last year. It was shortsighted and greedy to think they would take on Apple and turn a profit in the first 3 months.
  • 0 Hide
    darkavenger123 , September 17, 2012 6:13 AM
    HP should get back into the mobile business....after all HP stands for "Hand Phone"...hope they patent it before Apple declares they patent the word.
  • 3 Hide
    assasin32 , September 17, 2012 8:08 AM
    Wonder if their phone will be filled with bloatware like their printer drivers and computers. Hope not that was my biggest grip on HP, they make you jump through hoops to get their stuff working right. Hope I am proved wrong though and they enter the phone business and provide more competition.
  • -1 Hide
    dimitrik , September 17, 2012 9:09 AM
    Notes to self:
    1. Get back into smartphone biz
    2. Win Lotto double jackpot

    Actually the above two have about the same chance of success for HP. Sad that the innovator has become the follower, but they have a long way to go before their culture can innovate competitively again.
  • -1 Hide
    craig_1000 , September 17, 2012 11:21 AM
    It appears that most people here believe that if you fail once you should just lie down and die. If Apple fail with the iphone5 may be they should give up as well,in fact why are we even bothering to live becasue we will fail eventually, leave it to companies who keep on trying outside of Europe and the USA. The Palm buyout and then failure to launch is not the first time that Compaq/HP ventured into the mobile market. This was a missed opportunity maybe but not the first attempt (HTC made the previous devices for HP/Compaq and they are not doing too bad atm).
  • 5 Hide
    house70 , September 17, 2012 11:47 AM
    Shut up, Meg.
  • 0 Hide
    jungleboogiemonster , September 17, 2012 12:10 PM
    I'm still waiting for HP to get laptops and desktops right. Their products or boring and unrelaible, which leads me to believe their phones will be the same.
  • 0 Hide
    jojesa , September 17, 2012 12:41 PM
    You were right there HP...one more step and you could have a piece of the pie.
    Other companies have make a lot more with less. I don't know what you were thinking.
  • 1 Hide
    samkl , September 17, 2012 1:10 PM
    HP, welcome to the bloodbath.

    I think they have a much better chance at creating a new market niche, perhaps with "glasses" powered by webOS or Android, or something radically different.

    Whatever they do has to deliver new "value" to consumers. Maybe very lean and run only web apps, or have an amazing HUD user interface, or machine-brain interface. Imagine an Android or webOS device with cognitive recognition.
    -SK
  • 0 Hide
    Achoo22 , September 17, 2012 3:55 PM
    More Corporate Liesit needs to take advantage of that particular form factor. In many countries, people can't afford to purchase a tablet, laptop or PC


    You can go to Wal-Mart and pick up a capable HP Laptop for about $300, but HP is targeting the customer that can't afford that? HP isn't going after the crowd that spends $400+ (plus a two-year contract for $100/mo service) for their phones? Either this is true and HP fails for being stupid or it is false and HP fails for yet again misrepresenting their goals.
  • 1 Hide
    deadlockedworld , September 17, 2012 4:39 PM
    I agree that an alliance with Microsoft for a windows phone is their best chance at reentering. HP can still leverage muscle in the corporate sector - could take BBerrys remaining market share without too much difficulty.

    Taking on Apple/Google/Consumers should be step II - after they have established in friendly territory.
  • 0 Hide
    captaincharisma , September 17, 2012 10:24 PM
    Quote:
    It appears that most people here believe that if you fail once you should just lie down and die. If Apple fail with the iphone5 may be they should give up as well,in fact why are we even bothering to live becasue we will fail eventually, leave it to companies who keep on trying outside of Europe and the USA. The Palm buyout and then failure to launch is not the first time that Compaq/HP ventured into the mobile market. This was a missed opportunity maybe but not the first attempt (HTC made the previous devices for HP/Compaq and they are not doing too bad atm).


    you must really be ignorant if you think HP has only failed once.

    go grow a brain :lol: 
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