An HP executive inspired a world-wide facepalm announcing that it would be getting back into the smartphone game. Seriously. The same HP exec went on to explain that this new smartphone would offer a ‘differentiated experience’. Uh huh. Then, he further continued to explain that there was no time table, but even though they are late to the game, they are not late. Yeah. That sounds about what I’d expect to hear from an HP executive.
So, I’m going to take off my webOS fanboy hat, and just look at this as an outside observer for just a moment.
No Staying Power
The only thing HP has demonstrated in its time in the mobile technology space is it hasn’t the slightest clue what it’s doing in the mobile space. The long history of HP’s and webOS’s flubs and faux pas have been documented. Even HP’s most recent venture into mobile, the Slate 7, has shown that they’ve learned nothing new in that respect. More to the point, HP recently reduced their cheapo Slate to even more cheapo prices proving that putting an HP sticker on a piece of junk doesn’t move tablets.
HP should realize – selling phones is hard. And HP has not shown that it is primed to stick around for the long haul when it comes to building and developing a mobile technology ecosystem. HP gave their flagship tablet just 49 days from release to funeral. That’s not a long haul. That’s not even a haul.
HP’s CEO, Meg Whitman did make a good point last fall when she said “We have to ultimately offer a smartphone because in many countries of the world that would be your first computing device. We are a computing company.” So perhaps the low-end smartphone world is to be stalked by the giants that are Hewlett and Packard. The Slate 7 certainly seems to suggest that. And if that’s the case, good luck and God bless. I certainly won’t be putting money down for the cheapest smartphone in Africa, and nor should you, dear reader.
Know thy self
Maybe HP needs to realize that there’s nothing wrong with being only the world’s largest PC manufacturer. It really doesn’t need to try again at a space already dominated by four mobile operating systems. And the operating system they’d be most likely to default to would be Android. Android itself is already dominated by any number of OEMs, none of which are going anywhere any time soon.
Microsoft was another player late in the smartphone game. It shows. Windows phone is hovering at 5-6% global market share. This is mostly dominated by Nokia, the not-quite-subsidiary of Microsoft. This is after three solid years of marketing, and pushing, and likely also because of superior camera technology, with even more to come.
So we’re talking about two things – commitment, and money. Oh my God are we talking about money. Unless of course, HP is still under the impression that the name “HP” will sell devices. It wouldn’t sell webOS devices, but maybe that was webOS’s fault. Now, armed with Android, HP is bound to have their phones fly off the shelves, right?
HP, even rats can figure out not to push the button that shocks them.
It begs the question, what would this differentiated smartphone even run? Speculation on the interwebs suggests Android. Despite the fact that they own webOS, HP would be committing corporate suicide if they decided to walk down that yellow brick road again. Some suggest that a partnership to produce Windows Phones makes sense given HP’s strong relationship with Microsoft. One particularly
crazy inspired writer even suggested HP produce Blackberry devices due to their corporate ties. Hmmkay….
I’m going to offer a prediction that HP will bring an under-spec’ed slab phone to the market in 12-18 months. It will run mostly-stock Android, with a minor tweak or two. They’ll release it to most markets and watch it fail for two years. Two or three other smartphones will follow their initial release with absolutely frigid reception until HP finally closes its smartphone doors in 2016. And that will be the very last time I have to write about that ship of fools.
But hey, HP wants to offer a differentiated experience. What they could possibly offer that isn’t already offered by everyone else, I have no idea. Maybe an integrated printer experience, which will be truly wonderful for anyone who gives a rat’s patootie about printing.
Maybe we should play marketing firm for HP. What would a good “differentiated” experience be? I think the Android OEMs have covered that field pretty well, almost overly well, but sound off in the comments if you have any thoughts.
Or if you care…. About anything HP does…. Ever again….