AH Primetime: HP Is Set To Release A Smartphone – Can We At Least Get An Applause?

January 14, 2014 - Written By Cory McNutt

Hewlett-Packard (HP) is an American multinational information technology corporation with their headquarters in Palo Alto, California.  It services consumers, small – large business enterprises, as well as the government, healthcare industry, and educational institutions.  It was founded in garage by 2 Stanford electrical engineering graduates, named Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard in 1939, and since 2007, it has been the world’s leading manufacturer of PC’s, although Lenovo may change that status any day.

HP is responsible for inventing many electronic devices, and actually started what today is known as Silicon Valley.  Before the age of personal computers, HP was the go-to brand in high-end calculators, both desktop and handheld, and scientific instruments.  In the mid-eighties, they introduced BOTH inkjet and laser printers for the desktop, and along with their scanning products, they later developed the highly successful multifunction and all-in-one products.

In the 1990’s, HP expanded their computer line towards the consumer market, and also grew in size when it purchased Apollo Computer in 1989 and Convex Computer in 1995.  In 2002, HP bought out and merged with Compaq, who had already bought out a couple other firms, and when all was said and done, HP became a major player in desktop PCs, laptops, and servers.

Hoping to get their foot in the “mobile door,” in 2010, HP announced that it would buy Palm, Inc. for $1.2 billion in cash and debt.  The purchase of Palm and webOS was a big gamble, but in July 2011, HP launched its first tablet, the HP TouchPad, bringing webOS to the tablet world for the first time.  Amongst some office turmoil, in August 2011, HP announced that it would exit the smartphone and tablet business and concentrate of higher profit areas.


You would think that an American company, born in a garage, and rising to such heights, would garner a little respect when it tried to enter the smartphone and tablet world – and that is exactly what they received, very little respect.  The mobile world is a strange business model, unlike other industries – there is fierce loyalty to a handful of brands, and other than Apple and Samsung, even the other well-like and established mobile companies, such as, HTC, LG, Sony and Motorola, barely have a market share compared to the two giants in the industry.  Then you have to remember the many Asian market brands that are working their way to the U.S., such as Lenovo, ASUS, ZTE, Huawei, Meizu, and Xiaomi.

The smartphone industry is a very demanding and dynamic industry, with three distinct market segments – High-end, Mid-Range, and Emerging Markets, and even within the high-end you have strong alliances and techies who demand the top specifications in the flagship models. Motorola has shown us that having the highest pixel resolution, fastest processor or 3GB of RAM is not necessary for a device to operate smoothly and quickly, if all hardware and software are optimized, but that does not matter to most in this group. Look what happened to BlackBerry, once the leader in smartphones, but refused to keep up with technology, and slow to react – now struggling to keep solvent.

HP claims that they must be in the smartphone market to compete in the future, but is it too little too late?  From the information that has passed through a Bluetooth SIG listing, it appears that HP is going after the emerging markets with a Phablet of 6-inches and 7-inches running Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. According to Digitimes, the devices will use an Intel processor, be priced below US$250, and will only be going to the emerging nations. In an article we did today a source said the device, Slate 6, with have a 6-inch, 720P display and quad-core processor, with Dual-SIM for as little as $200.

With no high-end model to generate interest for an HP product in those countries, it could end up being simply a “white boxed” device – set to compete against the large China companies that already have their supply chains and dealers well established…this does not look like a good scenario for an HP comeback.

So we have to ask ourselves if an HP smartphone really matters – like CTA sang a long time ago, “Does anybody really care?” If by some chance a 6-7-inch Phablet is a success in an emerging country, and HP tries to bring a high-end device to the states – could we trust them to follow through? – their track record suggests otherwise. Nobody wants to buy a device from a company that may “get out of the smartphone” business, just as fast as they got in.

Please let us know on our Google+ Page if you are excited about HP getting back into the smartphone business, or could you care less – remember these smartphones are for emerging markets, but if they come to the U.S. would you consider purchasing one.