The Indian Express reported that an HP executive said the company is planning to re-enter the smartphone market, sparking speculation as to its plans – although the original comment hardly indicated a full commitment from the vendor.
When quizzed on the potential for a smartphone launch, Yam Su Yin, HP’s senior director for consumer PC and media tablets in Asia Pacific, said: “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”.
HP has previously invested big to build itself a position in the mobile device market, not least through its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm in 2010, although this did not lead to market success – and the former Palm activities were shuttered as part of a restructure in 2011.
The question is how it would look to position itself in the smartphone market in 2013. The last think the market needs is another “me too” Android vendor, and as Cisco and Dell will no doubt testify, strength in one ICT market does not necessarily translate to success in another.
According to the executive, “being late you have to create a different sort of proposition. There are still things that can be done. It is not late. When HP has a smartphone, it will give a differentiated experience”.
However, the ongoing attempts by BlackBerry and Microsoft to reassert themselves in the smart device market also show that being late and offering differentiated propositions bring their own challenges – not least that in order to succeed, vendors need a portfolio of devices, apps and content, which takes a lot of time, money, and indeed consumer success to build-up.
Indeed, HP will already know this, having attempted to create a content ecosystem for the Palm-developed WebOS which, despite promises that it would penetrate further into HP’s range, failed to generate much traction.
The obvious option is that HP will look to leverage its position in the enterprise IT market, although it is increasingly the case that there is no enterprise mobile device business – outside of certain niches, where BlackBerry is also focusing much of its attention.
With the growth of bring-your-own device, IT departments are already becoming more familiar with managing a portfolio of Android and iOS devices. And with Apple and Samsung – among others – bolstering their propositions to improve their device management capabilities, HP will have to compete on a level playing field against a raft of already-established smartphone competition.