CEO Whitman Says Smartphones Are in HP's Future

HP CEO Meg Whitman said smartphones are becoming a key computing device around the world, and as a computing company, HP needs to be in that market.

Hewlett-Packard, a year out from its failed attempts at webOS-based mobile devices, is looking to make a move back into the booming smartphone space, according to CEO Meg Whitman.

In an interview with Fox Business News, Whitman said that given the trend toward consumers and businesses worldwide embracing smartphones as key computing devices--including in emerging markets--it makes sense for HP to make another push into the market.

"My view is we have to ultimately offer a smartphone because in many countries of the world, that is your first computing device," she said during the interview. "There will be countries around the world where people may never own a tablet or a PC or a desktop, they will do everything on a smartphone, we are a computing company; we have to take advantage of that form-factor."

Whitman did not say when an HP-branded smartphone would hit the market, or whether the company would develop one in-house or get the capability through an acquisition. However, she did say it is important for HP to make sure it gets done right this time.

"In the end, I would love to be able to provide all the way from the most fabulous workstations to desktops, to laptops, to our tablets and convertibles, all the way to the smartphone," Whitman said. "But we did take a detour into smartphones, and we've got to get it right this time. ... So we re working to make sure that, when we do this, it will be the right thing for HP and we will be successful."

Several years ago, HP offered a number of mobile devices running Microsoft's Windows Mobile OS. However, the company bought mobile device maker Palm for $1.2 billion in 2010, when Mark Hurd was HP's CEO. Palm had its share of smartphones, but the key was the webOS operating system. Over the following months, HP under Hurd and, later, his successor, Leo Apotheker, touted a plan to have a broad portfolio of webOS-based devices, from PCs to tablets to smartphones.

In 2011, under Apotheker s watch, HP released the webOS-based TouchPad tablet, but six weeks later spiked the device due to poor sales in the United States. With the decision, the company not only ditched the TouchPad, but also planned webOS-based smartphones. In a twist, HP's decision to sharply cut the price on remaining TouchPads to get them out of inventory drove a consumer rush on the tablets, making them--however briefly--one of the fastest-selling tablets on the market.

This article was originally published on 09-17-2012
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