Hewlett-Packard is offering a new, ambitious strategy in mobility and the cloud. But that strategy could make it an enemy of Microsoft, Google and other tech titans.
isn't exactly shying down from a fight.
In a March 14
press conference, freshly minted CEO Leo Apotheker has made it clear he intends
to take the manufacturer in some new and radical directions, ones that will
bring his company in direct and aggressive competition with not only its
longtime rivals, but also a few partners.
Microsoft and the webOS Question
HP completed its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm, whose new breed of
smartphones-including its flagship Palm Pre-had attracted some critical praise
but comparatively little consumer and developer interest. As part of that deal,
HP now had control of Palm's webOS mobile-operating system.
immediately, analysts and pundits began speculating that HP would port webOS
onto both smartphones and tablets. In a Feb. 9 announcement, however, the
company suggested it would take the platform one step further, installing it on
laptops and desktops in addition to mobile devices.
"The webOS is
an unbelievably attractive piece of technology in that it can interconnect
seamlessly a number of various devices," Apotheker said in response to eWEEK's
question at the March 14 press conference. "It is simply an outstanding Web
hopes to sell 100 million webOS-enabled devices per year. "You will see us put
our webOS on our Windows PCs," Apotheker added. "We see this as a massive, very
could take a dim view of another operating system trying to carve out some
market share. Windows currently occupies some 89.95 percent of the
operating-system market, according to analytics firm Net Applications, and
Windows 7 continues to generate substantial amounts of revenue for the company.
Microsoft will react to a new entity in its space remains to be seen, but HP
executives are already trying to paint the relationship as the furthest thing
from a competition. "Microsoft is a great partner," Apotheker said. "Microsoft
will remain a great partner. The way we have enabled our webOS technology is to
leverage the entire Microsoft ecosystem."
Microsoft subscribes to that same view remains to be seen.
Battle for the Cloud
other HP executives haven't offered a detailed view of their plans for the
cloud space, but it will likely involve a set of infrastructure and developer
services. Of course, this places HP in direct competition with some of the
biggest bruisers of the tech world: not only Microsoft, Google and Oracle,
which all have designs on the cloud, but also Amazon.com, which has moved
aggressively into cloud-based services.
application store, due to open within the next few quarters, will offer consumer
and enterprise applications for the cloud-ratcheting up competition with not
only most of the aforementioned companies, but also Intel and its plans for an
this to be an open cloud marketplace that will offer secure, scalable and
trusted enterprise applications and services catalogs," is how Apotheker
described HP's plans.
It's easy to
imagine the other companies seeing those words as a threat.
Feb. 9 press conference, HP whipped the curtain back from two new webOS-powered
smartphones: the Pre 3 and the Veer. The latter is an ultra-slim device with a
rounded shape reminiscent of the original Palm Pre, and equipped with a
2.6-inch touch-screen. Hardware also includes a 5-megapixel camera and 8GB of
The Pre 3 also
borrows heavily from the design of the original Palm Pre, with a 3.6-inch
screen, sliding QWERTY keyboard and a notably powerful 1.4GHz Qualcomm
processor. HP plans on offering the device in HSPA+ (Evolved High-Speed Packet
Access) and EvDO (Evolution Data Optimized) versions.
"WebOS is HP's
Trojan horse to marry Cloud, Mobile and Social," Ray Wang, principal analyst of
Constellation Research, wrote in a March 10 e-mail to eWEEK. "It's a smart move
in leveraging an underused asset."
It will also
thrust HP firmly into the smartphone arena, where it will face competition from
not only Apple's iPhone and the growing family of Google Android devices, but
also its good buddy Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform.
obviously has some big plans. But it will take substantial resources on HP's
part, not to mention peerless execution of a sprawling strategy, if it wants to
succeed in a Wild West of cloud services, tablets, smartphones and
competitor-friends like Microsoft.