Hewlett Packard wants back into smartphone market

September 14, 2012 7:26:30 PM PDT
Palo Alto's Hewlett Packard plans to take on Apple, Samsung and others with a smartphone of its own.

But is there room for another competitor? The smartphone market is already crowded, giving consumers plenty of choices. HP says it wants to jump back in. It acquired Palm two years ago, an early smartphone maker, but then dropped out of the market.

When asked on Fox Business Network if she might snap up RIM, maker of the Blackberry, to help accelerate its re-entry into smartphones, HP CEO Meg Whitman answered, "We've got to create our own device and trying to take that asset is more than I think we could undertake right now."

That suggests HP might use Palm's webOS operating system, putting it in direct competition with Apple's iOS, Google's Android, and Microsoft's Windows.

While some consumers, like Santa Clara University sophomore Ross Martinez, don't believe another smartphone is needed on the market, "I don't know if we have for a fourth brand necessarily," said Martinez. Some analysts see a big opportunity for HP, "We've kind of got Apple, we've got all the Android phones which are all over the place, and we've got Research in Motion which has been in trouble," said technology industry analyst Rob Enderle. "The market could use another leader to come in and take control, and HP could be that company."

And Gartner Research Vice President Van Baker cautions, however, that an HP smartphone would have to be "cool" because many companies give employees a choice of models or let them use their own, "If they get a clunky phone for work stuff, and they've got a cool phone that they bought themselves, guess what? The work one goes in the drawer at the end of the day, and the cool phone goes back into the pocket."

But HP still has an image as a supplier of computers and printers to business, "I kind of see HP as computers and printers and stuff, so I think it's kind of odd, but I'd be willing to look at it and try it," smartphone user Kaitlyn Nguyen said.

HP will be expanding into smartphones at the same time it's laying off 29,000 employees.

It is Apple, of course, that likes to call this the post-PC era. And with Meg Whitman's announcement, it's clear that HP sees smartphones as part of its future product mix.


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