Today, Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Meg Whitman told Fox Business that it would remain steadfast in delivering an HP smartphone to the market. “We have to ultimately have a smartphone,” quipped Whitman, explaining that mobile devices are often the first personal computing item individuals use today.
In particular, Whitman noted the areas across the planet where there is small demand for desktops and workstations while the demands for mobility are high. As such, HP is obligated to “…take advantage of [the smartphone] form factor,” said Whitman.
But when Whitman was pressed about the failures HP experienced with Palm and webOS, she simply stated that “[HP] did take a detour into smartphones, and we’ve got to get it right this time,” continuing on to tell Fox Business that it’s more important to deliver a well built phone than simply rush one to market. At the very least, it seems HP learned its lesson from last year.
Still, HP’s chances of penetrating the mobile phone market are not good. With iPhone 5 pre-orders off the charts, the steady decline of RIM in the background and the intense intra-Android OEM smartphone competition, HP is entering a take-no-prisoners combat zone. If HP fails to get it right this time, they will undoubtedly have to remove themselves from the market all together. To try a third time would surely tarnish an already declining reputation.
What’s more, HP’s phone strategy must either be Android or Windows Phone 8, although it’s possible HP could form an alliance with RIM as it now plans to license BlackBerry 10 OS to handset manufacturers. But even if HP makes all the right strategic moves, it will still have to sway public opinion that their device is worth buying.
At any rate, the scant details on HP’s smartphone have parallels with HP’s other mobile strategies, particularly with its business tablet.
Earlier in August, HP floated some mysterious words about a “unique technology” set to to arrive on a Microsoft Corp. Windows 8 HP tablet. There were no further details discussed, but the device has allegedly been built for the business and commercial world. As reported by CRN, it also may also target vertical industries and be “tailor-made for the channel.” Bold words all around, especially without any concrete details, mock-ups or demonstration hardware.
So here’s the bottom line: if HP wants to be a real player in mobile computing, it will need deliver a no-compromise device that truly exploits whatever smartphone or tablet niche it plans to attack. If Whitman can not direct the appropriate amount of time, resources and research into building something truly different, the tablet (and phone) are already dead in the water.
In earnest, the time and resources HP will spend on building another smartphone (in addition to a tablet) is not time and resources spent wisely. HP true strategy should be about doubling-down on its cloud and figuring out how to out-maneuver rivals in the server and networking and software space.
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