HP Looks for Smartphone Success with Palm Devices

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-04-29 Print this article Print

5. The HP Slate might have a cousin

The HP Slate, which boasts Windows 7 and several other features consumers might like, is poised for its release later this year. But HP's decision to acquire Palm might also help it offer its own operating system in a tablet to compete with the iPad. It's entirely possible that HP will use WebOS in future iterations of tablets to help it compete more effectively against Apple. It makes sense. By owning WebOS, HP won't need to pay a licensing fee to Microsoft. Plus, it can exercise full control over the OS, providing it with a greater chance of taking on Apple. Look for WebOS to make its way to tablets.

6. HP will drastically change Palm's strategy

Palm's strategy just wasn't working. The company came up with a fine operating system, but delivered two phones that didn't do anything special. Plus, it put the Pre on Sprint's network, which only further damaged its chances of competing with the iPhone. HP will likely do nothing of the sort. Look for the company to continue selling Palm devices, but drastically change the way it operates. If nothing else, HP understands what it takes to be a success in a crowded market. It will probably follow a similar strategy in the mobile space to get the Pre and Pixi back on track.

7. It might not revive HP's mobile standing

At the same time, there is a chance that HP's mobile division won't see much resurgence in the market after the company implements its new strategy. We can't forget that Apple is preparing to release a new version of its iPhone OS, as well as a new iPhone. Microsoft is poised to offer up its Kin smartphones and Windows Phone 7. Even RIM is releasing a new version of its operating system. At this point, the Pre and Pixi are also-rans in the market. And WebOS is light years behind the leaders in terms of market share. Unless HP knows something that Palm's executives didn't, it's possible that Palm won't be able to revive HP's mobile division.

8. Palm phones will still be out there

For the time being, Palm devices will still be available on store shelves. The only way HP's acquisition of Palm made sense was if the handset maker continued to sell the Pre and Pixi to consumers. If HP decides to take the devices off store shelves and totally revamp Palm, it would be disastrous. So, those who are thinking about buying a Pre or Pixi shouldn't worry about it being discontinued anytime soon. But be aware that this situation could change depending on HP's product marketing decisions.

9. HP is officially an Apple competitor

HP's acquisition of Palm makes one thing abundantly clear to all who have been analyzing the tech industry: HP has put Apple in its sights. Whether it will use Palm to compete with the iPhone or use WebOS to take on the iPad, HP is gunning for Apple. For now, Apple won't need to worry all that much, since HP has some significant work to do just to catch up. But make no mistake that HP wants to beat Apple badly. And it paid $1.2 billion to do it.

10. The future is in doubt

In the end, we just don't know what the future will hold for Palm or HP. Although the acquisition seems to make sense for both companies, there's no telling if HP will make the right decisions to revive the Palm brand. There's also no way to know if the Palm products marketed by HP will appeal to consumers any more than the earlier products did. Both Palm and HP have a spotty track record when it comes to mobile strategy. Both companies have enjoyed success and endured defeat. Whether or not they can work together this time around to revive their businesses remains to be seen.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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