Nov 08, 2012

Does it still make sense for HP to re-enter the smartphone market, and how could they do it?

A little over a year after HP killed Palm and put webOS out to pasture in 2011, CEO Meg Whitman has been talking about HP introducing a new smartphone as an important part of the company's future. To be fair, the decision to throw webOS on the trash heap was made by former CEO Leo Apotheker, not Whitman. HP released Open webOS 1.0 in September, so HP's mobile OS is now open source. Could they try to emulate Android? That seems like a pretty tough row to hoe. Manufacturing smartphones and tablets that run on other company's OSes hasn't been a sure path to success, just ask Nokia. I personally think the ship has sailed. Microsoft has made it clear they it is committed to the mobile market, Apple has the high end locked up pretty well, and Google (LG, Samsung, HTC, et al) have the other 75% of the world market well in hand. Oh, I almost forgot, there is still RIM with its proprietary OS and hardware.

No, not really. Who wants to buy a phone from HP? Why? What would an HP phone have to offer? Web OS? Nobody cares about that.

iOS, Android and now Windows Phone 8 are the dominant ecosystems in smartphones. All others will be also-rans, with a tiny share of the market if they can get any share at all.

HP missed the boat on smartphones. It's over, though maybe they don't realize it yet.
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I think Whitman walked back her position on reentering the smartphone market.  From the latest I've read, HP doesn't expect to have anything in 2013, and she has been looking long term, with statements along the lines of, "if we don't have a smartphone in five years, we will be locked out of a huge segment of the population".  I wouldn't take Whitman's dedication to this as being too deep, after all, she was the one that jettisoned webOS when she could have walked it back.  I don't see a place for HP in this market really, for many of the same reasons already mentioned by the OP.  Plus I hate HP for their years of overpriced printer cartridges, so I would be hesitant to buy an HP smartphone anyway.  I wouldn't be surprised if they had a batter that lasted 4 months, then cost $100 to replace.  Hey, if that is their approach to printers....

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