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Meg strokes Windows 8, unsure about webOS

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HP will make another run at the fondleslab market.

During a conference call regarding HP's astonishing decision to keep its PC biz after all, the company said it will bring out a Windows 8 tablet and is evaluating what to do with webOS, the TouchPad tablet operating system.

Although ex-HP CEO Leo Apotheker killed off the TouchPad, the company kept supporting it, even pushing out a webOS update for the gadget in October and continuing with longer-term architectural development.

Todd Bradley, the head of HP's Personal Systems Group, was asked about HP's tablet market strategy during the call. He said: "[The] thinking hasn't changed. We're continuing to focus on our Microsoft-based tablets we have, ones that we'll develop on Windows 8. I think from a webOS perspective that's kind of the next piece of work to complete.

"The whole team – Meg, Cathy [Lesjack], myself, John Rubinstein – [is] working very very hard and as quickly as we can to make the right decisions about that product."

Meg Whitman, HP's latest CEO, added: "I think we need to be in the tablet business, and we're certainly going to be there with Windows 8. We're going to make another run at this business, and we're going to make a decision about the long-term future of webOS within HP over the next couple of months."

She continued: "Many people have said to me, well, isn't the webOS decision just completely tied to PSG? The answer to that is, actually, no. WebOS obviously has use in the PSG business but also in other businesses that we have. We have to make a more holistic decision around webOS which is, you know, coming to a town near you soon I hope."

She clarified that she was talking about the webOS software and not the tablet.

Ultramobile computing and IT consumerisation

Regarding the rise of slabs for fondling, Bradley said: "We're at the beginning stages of a new segment of personal computing. I hardly think that after a couple of months in I would characterise us as being too late. I think the work we're doing with Microsoft is extraordinarily compelling and frankly I think the work we're doing in other categories like the ultramobile space will be very, very competitive."

Are we looking at the possibility of smartphone market re-entry by HP with Windows 8?

Bradley said: "Ultramobile is a notebook category of sub-17mm notebooks. It doesn't have any relevance really to smartphones, and we're very focused on having a compelling suite in that ultramobile space, and you'll see that very soon."

Whitman told people not to expect any announcements related to these matters until at least the earnings statement on 21 November. She said HP did a wide range of things and her preference was to do fewer things but do them really well, implying that some of HP's business and product initiatives could be curtailed.

She also talked about the consumerisation of IT, saying that people wanted to bring their own smart devices to work, but CEOs and CIOs are very leery about that because of security and control issues:

The way I think we can take advantage if this is to have products that are highly desirable by individuals and highly desirable by CIOs, in which case it's win:win. We provide something that big companies are delighted to buy [for] employees, and the employees are thrilled to death because they have something that really helps them work and also do a lot of things they like to do in their personal life. So that's the way we're going to come after the consumerisation of IT.

Sounds like Bradley is talking about an ultrabook and tablet suite of products while Whitman could be including smartphones in her thoughts. There is the obvious risk that employees will want to use their smartphones to access corporate networks for work-related activities and if HP is absent from that market then the realisation of its IT consumerisation ambitions could well be compromised. ®

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