10 Reasons Why HP Failed in the Mobile Business

News Analysis: HP had barely gotten its feet wet in the smartphone and tablet business before it decided to pull the plug. There are any number of reasons why the company's mobile business failed. But the main ones include a failure to understand the competition or to even have a sound strategy for getting into the business in the first place.

Hewlett-Packard made the surprising announcement last week that it would discontinue its TouchPad tablet and WebOS business to focus its efforts on enterprise systems, software and services. The move came less than two months after it announced the launch of its TouchPad tablet, and helped signify just how difficult it is to be competitive in today's mobile space.

But HP's failure does signal more than just what is going on in today's mobile market. In fact, the company's failure says quite a bit about what HP was trying to do in the mobile space and why its stumbling attempts at mobile prominence failed. From a misunderstanding of what Apple is all about to CEO Leo Apotheker's determination to take HP in a new direction, HP's mobile division never had a chance to grow into a stable, profit-generating operation.

Read on to find out why:

1. It misjudged Apple

Like far too many other companies in the mobile market, HP failed to realize that Apple's popularity in the mobile space was not going to slow down anytime soon. The company seemed to believe that after the iPad 2 stayed on store shelves for a while and the iPhone 5 continued to be delayed, it could capitalize on impatient would-be Apple buyers. But that never happened. Instead, those folks just bought Apple products-and HP lost.

2. It didn't play the Android game

One of the biggest mistakes HP made was not accepting Android. Like it or not, in today's mobile market, Android is the operating system that every vendor (except for Apple and Microsoft) should be using. It's a mobile OS that people know and trust, and it has been proven to sell quite well in the mobile space. To double down on WebOS was a mistake.

3. WebOS wasn't appealing

WebOS itself simply wasn't all that appealing. The operating system lacked enough third-party applications to attract consumers, and its functionality was simply too different from iOS and Android for customers to give it a second look. What's more, the operating system wasn't really known outside of tech circles, putting it at a disadvantage from the beginning.

4. The TouchPad was a mistake

HP's TouchPad tablet was a mistake from the very beginning. As mentioned, it was running WebOS, which already put it at a disadvantage. Combine that with the fact that HP made the device look awfully iPad-like, complete with a similar design, identical price tag and the same screen size, and it quickly becomes clear that it didn't have much of a shot to start with. Devices like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 are doing well because they're different enough from the iPad 2 to justify a purchase.

5. The smartphones were boring

Let's face it: HP's lineup of smartphones simply wasn't all that interesting. The Pre and the Pixi lines were also-rans that neither consumers nor enterprise users even cared about. What's more, they featured small displays, sub-par functionality and designs that seemed rather derivative from other vendors' older earlier models. They contributed heavily to the decline of HP's mobile business.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...