HP's phone, tablet strategy comes together with webOS

TouchPad tablet may appeal to consumers and IT managers

HP has thrown itself back into mobile computing with the release of the webOS-based TouchPad, Veer and Pre3

HP has thrown itself back into mobile computing with the release of the webOS-based TouchPad, Veer and Pre3

Less than a year after it acquired Palm for $US1.2 billion, HP has announced the first wave of webOS-based products – two smartphones and a tablet pc – aimed at forging a new mobile device strategy for the company. Now it’s time to see if HP has the muscle to make mobility a success.

Despite having a long history with mobile devices and smartphones, HP has thus far failed to make much of an impact outside its core business of notebook computers.

As I blogged about last year, the webOS platform gives HP the capability to go end-to-end with its mobile strategy, just like Apple.

HP needs to take a leaf out of Apple’s book and get the mobile products to all the markets it serves quickly

“Smartphone devices, tablet PCs, a proprietary operating system and an app store thrown in could make HP a real contender in the mobile computing space,” I wrote back then.

And today’s announcements proves HP is hell-bent on become a real contender in that space – apps and all.

Of all the large tech vendors, HP now has the most promising mobile strategy.

That may seem like a strange statement to make about HP, but think about it: Microsoft dropped the ball with Windows Mobile; IBM is interested in mobile software only; and Dell is still finding its feet with its device software strategy.

In the case of Dell it is going to market with a mix of Android and Windows-7 based phones and tablets. Perhaps it should just stick with one and run with it.

While HP could have jumped on the Android (or Windows) bandwagon, it decided to buy its way into the mobile operating system and handset space with the acquisition of Palm.

With the release of the TouchPad and new webOS phones at the very least HP is taking its mobile strategy seriously – and why wouldn’t it. Tablets and smartphones are all the rage right now and worth entering.

Now HP needs to take a leaf out of Apple’s book and get the mobile products to all the markets it serves quickly, something Palm failed miserably at when its first-generation webOS phone was released.

Moreover, it’s worth speculating that Nokia will follow HP’s lead something this year and release a number of devices – from phones to tablets – based on its MeeGo platform in a similar fashion.

What surprises me most about today’s news is that it still isn’t some Nokia VP standing on the stage instead.

Is the tablet space getting crowded?

Some commentators have suggested that HP will have a tough time competing in the ever-so-rapidly increasing tablet market.

It’s a little premature to think the burgeoning keyboard-less tablet space is already over crowded, so HP’s stance of “it’s growing, let’s get on it” is a good strategy at this time.

HP also has another card up its sleeve in that it can market itself to the business market.

Blackberry, the business mobility king, will go after enterprise customers with its PlayBook and HP can do the same.

It will be interesting to see if HP can hold a foot in both camps with its mobile devices.

The Veer phone is aimed at consumers and the Pre3 is already trumpeting itself as “the new look of business”.

Perhaps the TouchPad with its business and consumer apps will be bought by both markets, but this of course will depend largely on its price.

For now seeing tablets like the TouchPad mushroom from nowhere is great. And the fact that it’s not “just another Android” is even more exciting.

Follow Rodney Gedda on Twitter: @rodneygedda

Follow TechWorld Australia on Twitter: @Techworld_AU

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