Home opinion-and-analysis Core Dump HP has a smartphone in the works

HP has a smartphone in the works

Brave or what? An HP executive has revealed that the company has a smartphone under development.

The Indian Express has reported that when HP's Asia Pacific senior director of consumer PC and media tablets Yam Su Yin was asked if the company has a smartphone in the offing, she replied "The answer is yes but I cannot give a timetable. It would be silly if we say no. HP has to be in the game."

That makes some sense, as for a growing number of people around the world a smartphone is the first and perhaps the only internet-connected device they use.

She went on to say "Being late you have to create a different set of proposition. There are still things that can be done. It's not late. When HP has a smartphone, it will give a differentiated experience."

Since HP is believed to have done its dough on the Palm acquisition (bought in 2010 for US$1.2 billion, the renamed webOS was divested to LG in February for an undisclosed amount, although HP did retain the patents), it seems unlikely that it will go it alone again.

What seems more probable is that HP will use one of the major mobile OSes overlaid with some combination of its own apps, UI, or cloud services.

It's been a long time since Apple showed any inclination to licence its operating systems to other companies, so it seems safe to rule out iOS.

While Microsoft would like to see more Windows Phones being sold, the consistent UI seems to be one of its selling points. Furthermore, Microsoft seems keen to provide its own cloud infrastructure to Windows Phone users.

Android would seem to be an obvious choice, especially as Samsung has shown how well customers can react to an Android phone with extras delivered by the manufacturer.

But maybe that's too obvious - please read on.

So how's this for a 'roughie': BlackBerry OS 10 on an HP handset.

Here's my reasoning.

1. We know BlackBerry has its eyes on emerging markets. An expanded range of lower-cost handsets could help.

2. The BlackBerry brand doesn't seem to be as tarnished in EMEA and South Asia as it is in North American and the more affluent parts of Asia Pacific.

3. BlackBerry seems to be trying to shift towards software and services rather than being seen as basically a handset company (eg, the announcement of BlackBerry Messenger for iOS and Android, and the Secure Work Space mobile device management software for BlackBerry, iOS and Android.

4. BlackBerry 10 and the new handsets haven't (yet?) led to the hoped-for turnaround for the company, so there may be pressure on BlackBerry executives to "do something - anything!"

5. HP wants to provide a "differentiated experience."

And if not BlackBerry 10, how about Firefox OS as an even more outside chance?


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.