HP Joins Smart Phone Party

Hewlett-Packard plans a foray into the booming consumer smart phone market with an iPaq touch screen powered by the Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system.

Hewlett-Packard is the latest company planning to crack the consumer smart phone market pioneered by Apple's iPhone. With an initial release in Europe by the end of the year, HP is reportedly combining its enterprise-centered iPaq line of devices with a touch screen and Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system.

According to the Wall Street Journal, mobile carriers will sell the device through retail outlets in a departure from HP's traditional marketing approach to iPaqs, which have been sold directly to enterprises. HP iPaq sales have lagged enterprise smart phone sales from Nokia and Research In Motion.

In entering the consumer market, HP can expect stiff competition from Apple's iPhone; RIM's new BlackBerry Bold, which is aimed at consumers; and Google's newly announced Android.