Feeds

HP boss Whitman: 'We have to offer a smartphone'

But let's not be too hasty

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Hewlett Packard may have crashed and burned when it last tried to crack the mobile device market, but it isn't ready to give up yet. According to CEO Meg Whitman, a new smartphone from HP is not a matter of "if", but "when".

Describing HP's bungled acquisition of Palm as "a detour into smartphones," Whitman told Fox Business that the PC maker definitely still has mobile ambitions, but that it's essential to "get it right this time."

"My view is we have to ultimately offer a smartphone, because in many countries of the world, that is your first computing device," Whitman said. "There will be countries in the world where people will never own a tablet or a PC or a desktop. They will do everything on a smartphone."

That will mean large portions of the world's population will have little use for HP products, unless something changes. Unlike such rivals as Apple, Samsung, and Sony, HP has never successfully penetrated the consumer phone biz.

In 2010, HP tried to buy its way into smartphone customers' pockets by snapping up Palm for $1.2bn, but sales of Palm's webOS-powered Pre and Pixi handsets foundered under HP's leadership.

After 16 months of disappointing results, then-CEO Léo Apotheker essentially chose to storm out of the market in a huff. He announced that he was pulling the plug on HP's entire webOS product line just one day after the UK launch of its last smartphone, the Pre 3, leaving retailers little choice but to sell off their remaining inventory of webOS gear at fire-sale prices.

Many assumed that move spelled the end of HP's phone forays once and for all, but somehow HP's webOS division has managed to carry on – despite layoffs – even when no one seemed sure just what it was trying to achieve.

Lately there have been rumblings that HP is planning a return to the tablet market, which seems like a less risky proposition than having another go at phones. But according to Whitman, phone plans are definitely underway, too, although HP isn't planning any sudden moves.

"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," she said, adding that her mantra for HP's phone team is that it's better to get things right than to enter the market faster than HP should be there.

Whitman did not say whether webOS would be in the picture for any future HP smartphones, but it could be. In August, HP spun off its former webOS division into a new subsidiary called Gram. HP has yet to publicly announce what Gram might be building, but HP's job site is full of webOS-related listings (for a change).

But whatever form a future HP smartphone might take, Whitman said we will definitely see one, eventually.

"We're a computing company," she said. "We have to take advantage of that form factor." ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
YOU are the threat: True confessions of real-life sysadmins
Who will save the systems from the men and women who save the systems from you?
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Virgin Media struck dumb by NATIONWIDE packet loss balls-up
Turning it off and on again fixes glitch 12 HOURS LATER
Ofcom snatches 700MHz off digital telly, hands it to mobile data providers
Hungry mobe'n'slab-waving Blighty swallows spectrum
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.