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 butextremely 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 thata 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.
Lessons Learned From HPs Time in Mobile Space
5. Company notoriety means nothing
When HP walked into the mobile market, some thought for sure that the company would do well. After all, HP has long been respected and trusted by consumers and enterprise users alike. But now that it has failed, one thing has become abundantly clear: The size and market reputation of a company trying to break into the market for smartphones or tablets don’t matter. HP is a top brand in the technology industry and couldn’t succeed. What makes anyone think another firm won’t fall to the same fate if it doesn’t have the right strategy in place?
6. Pricing is vastly important
After HP decided to discontinue its TouchPad tablet, the company starting selling it at fire sale prices,offering its cheapest version for just $99. Soon after, customers flocked to online stores to pick up the device. Although HP likely lost money on the deal, it said something about the tablet market: Companies can score serious market share if they severely undercut the iPad’s pricing. Granted, that might mean losing money in the short term, but is carving out a portion of the market more important than that? Vendors will have to decide.
7. A best-of-the-best mentality is needed
Too often, companies join the mobile market with products that simply don’t lead the space in any way. Their products are derivative and lack a level of power and sophistication that a market leader should have. HP was guilty of that. But for other companies to be successful, they can’t fall into the same trap. It seems that to score market share in the mobile space, vendors need to have a desire to offer the very best devices on store shelves. If they don’t, they will fail.
8. Initial results mean everything
Critics can say what they want about HP’s mobile strategy, but at least the company knew when it was time to raise the white flag. In less than two months since the launch of the TouchPad, HP discontinued it. The move was a good one. In the mobile space, initial results mean everything. If a device fails at launch and can’t address problems in the first several weeks, it should be discontinued. Today’s mobile customers are making their intentions known quite quickly, and vendors can’t lose sight of that.
9. It might be a good idea to wait
The mobile market is becoming increasingly crowded with a host of companies looking to score some cash in a market that is growing explosively. However, smarter companies might want to wait to join the fray. Right now, there are dozens of companies competing in the tablet market and even more in the smartphone space. It would wise if would-be newcomers stayed out of the market at least until some the clutter clears. HP didn’t learn that lesson. And now it’s paying for it.
10. Only Apple and Google are safe
If one had to point to any companies that will actually be safe in the mobile space, it’s Apple and Google. As mentioned,Apple is trusted and beloved by both consumers and enterprise users. Google’s Android operating system has become a necessity in the marketplace for anyone trying to compete with iOS. This is making the search giant a fixture in the mobile space. Other than that, any company can fail and any company can succeed. It simply comes down to providing the right product at the right time to the right customer. HP didn’t do any of that.