What HP's Sudden Exit Says About the Mobile Market: 10 Important Lessons

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2011-08-24 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

HP's difficulty gaining traction in the mobile device sector and its sudden decision to get out of the business say quite a bit about the challenges and pitfalls companies face in trying to compete in the crowded mobile market.

Hewlett-Packard's precipitous decision to get out of the mobile business seemed highly improbably little more than a week ago. Now the company says that dumping it mobile and consumer PC businesses is an absolute necessity to get the company back on a healthy growth track. Whether these moves will succeed remains to be seen.

As a result, HP is discontinuing its TouchPad tablet, ditching its smartphones, and trying to refocus its business around software, enterprise servers, storage and IT services.  

However, HP's troubles in the mobile business do say quite a bit about what HP and its competitors are currently facing. It appears now that the mobile market is easy to join but extremely difficult to succeed in. The companies that have a sound market strategy and innovative ideas are far more likely to thrive than those that don't.

Unfortunately for HP, its failure in the mobile business has become a case study of what can happen when companies try to break into a market in which the leaders are firmly entrenched and the new comers are offering anything less than groundbreaking technology.

Read on to learn more:

1. Not being Apple is a killer

The worst thing that a company joining the mobile market can be is a firm other than Apple. The fact is the majority of consumers in the marketplace want to get their hands on an iPhone or iPad. The other device makers are left to pick up the scraps. HP's troubles were far-reaching, but not having the Apple brand on its products meant it was starting from a steep disadvantage from Day One. Any other concern contemplating getting into this market should remember that.

2. Not using Android is a mistake

Unfortunately for HP, it believed that it could offer both the hardware and software in its smartphones and tablets and be successful. In today's mobile space, consumers are recognizing two platforms: iOS and Android. All others, including BlackBerry OS, are distant also-rans. By not offering Android in its products, HP was putting itself at a disadvantage that it couldn't overcome. Customers didn't know webOS, and they didn't care to learn about it. May that be a warning for all other companies thinking about developing some new mobile OS platform.

3. Enterprise users are loyal

HP quickly learned that enterprise users are incredibly loyal to the products they've been using for years. Even now, the majority of IT decision-makers would rather put a BlackBerry in the hands of employees instead of any other product. On the other hand, HP's webOS platform and hardware weren't even considered by the enterprise, leaving it with only the consumer market to compete in.

4. Consumers have a one-track mind

That said, HP wasn't able to capitalize on consumers for one major reason: They have a one-track mind. Today's consumers want devices with prominent touch screens, tons of third-party applications and an operating system that they know they can trust. Consumers might have been able to trust webOS, but in the smartphone space especially, they were disappointed by the rest of HP's offerings. That held HP back, and this factor could hold back any other company that's hoping to make it big in the mobile market.



 
 
 
 
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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