Can HP Succeed with New Strategy Around Consumer Tablets and a Smartphone?

HPLast month HP announced the creation of a Mobility business unit headed up by Alberto Torres, the previous head of MeeGo operations at Nokia. This new department was designed to address the growing need HP has to become a part of the ever-increasing tablet market as well as “additional segments and categories where [they] believe [they] can offer differentiated value to [their] customers.”

The first product is expected to be a rumored and even spotted new enterprise tablet (seen with a silver back and a black plastic bar across the top with a horizontally placed HP logo), but it may be accompanied in some way by a smartphone as well if remarks made by HP CEO Meg Whitman are to be believed.

It seems that Whitman understands that in many ways mobile devices equate to relevancy in a world where this style of computing now dominates. Whitman explains that HP is working to break back into a mobile product lineup by saying that they have to “ultimately offer a smartphone because in many countries of the world that would be your first computing device.” She finished by saying that HP is a a computing company, insinuating that HP has a reserved spot among the other tablet and smartphone manufacturers.

This would seem a lot more believable if not for the resounding failure of HP’s TouchPad about a year ago; a tablet that was discontinued moments after it was initially delivered to retailers.

Some analysts have speculated that HP would be a likely buyer for the struggling BlackBerry manufacturer, Research in Motion, but Whitman has insisted that they aren’t entertaining that idea, noting that: “No, that is not a direction that we’re going to head.” This is probably one of the smarter decisions HP has made –they’ve already tried the head-start approach with a rather expensive acquisition of Palm a few years back (which resulted in WebOS, HP’s mobile operating system which seems to have been shelved and happily collecting dust).

So the remaining question is what could possibly be different this time? What will HP do differently than they did the first time. Well to begin with, there is new leadership this go-around. It may also be that they have been watching the legal and retail goings on –Samsung’s position as the strong second place tablet and smartphone contender is in jeopardy due to recent legal events and with a new version of Windows headed to market this fall there is room for a smart manufacturer with an eye on the corporate prize. HP certainly has the brand recognition to give a good run at gaining a corporate strong-hold as long as they can convince them that this time they are in the mobile market to stay.

The one certainty is that mobile dominance (or at least participation) is important. If HP wants to succeed in the long run they are going to have to figure out just how to keep their products in the hands of consumers –perhaps with an enterprise focus, which has always been where HP made their best mark.

[via The Verge]

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