HP waiting in the wings for Windows Phone? Whitman: "We ultimately have to offer a smartphone"

Could HP rejoin Microsoft in 2013? Maybe.

Yesterday, Fox Business has a recent interview with HP CEO Meg Whitman where all aspects of the business were discussed. HP has had a very interesting history these last 10 years and while we don’t want to focus on the changes, it’s on again/off again foray into smartphones is highly relevant.

To that issue, Whitman was asked directly "So a smartphone is not if, but when, for Hewlett-Packard?" to which Whitman replied:

"[HP will] have to ultimately offer a smartphone, because in many countries in the world that is your first computing device. You know, there will be countries around the world where people may never own a tablet or a PC or desktop. They will do everything on the smartphone. We're a computing company, we have to take advantage of that form factor."

That’s a smart analysis of the mobile industry but also a tough problem to solve.

Making a smartphone is hard. Let’s not mix messages here, it takes a lot of R&D, time, money and we’re talking some of the most complex systems around in the consumer space. On top of that, like most things in technology, it’s a moving train.

Management choices for making a new product--You can only have 2 of the 3

Whitman’s response naturally causes us to ask, so which mobile OS?

webOS 2.x might seem like a contender because after all, HP “owns” it. Meanwhile Open webOS could also be used, but we’re talking a lot of development time, money and R&D to get it up to snuff. For those reasons, fellow curmudgeon on our sister site webOS Nation Derek Kessler believes any “webOS” is out of the running.

That leaves Windows Phone 8.x or Android. Here, there only appears to be one direction: Windows Phone 8 due to the past history between HP and Microsoft. The two companies have worked together for years on tablets, PCs and even smartphones (Windows Mobile of days yore). We suppose HP could throw Microsoft under the train, but it would seem odd that they would miss that opportunity for the massive synergestic interplay with HPs laptops, PCs and slates—not to mention any discounts for licensing and that ever so important patent protections from Redmond.

At this point, however, it sounds more like early thoughts by HP for a smartphone. We couldn’t imagine anything showing up from them until mid 2013.

That raises another question: Can HP make a compelling phone in 2013? Mind you, most if not all of the Palm-team behind their great hardware have already left HP. Sound off in comments.

Source: Fox Business: via: webOS Nation

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • Good luck.  Dell and HP: old dogs seeking new tricks.
  • My Dell Venue Pro still smokes an iPhone.
  • Lol
  • My dell venue pro still smokes donkey balls.
  • You're into donkey balls? Umm...ok.
    Sorry HP, burn me once, shame on you.  Burn me twice, by buying Palm and doing everything wrong with it, shame on you again.  Burn me thrice..... nope...... not going to let that happen again.
    HP - you have a history of messing up portable devices.  How well did you manage the iPaq brand?  Yeah, you bought a solid handheld when you bought Compaq and you rode it for a while till it died out.  
    How about the support with that cool Windows Mobile phone you had, the hw6915?  Oh yeah, you never decided to upgrade it to WM 6, but instead came out with some lame little T9 device running WM 6.
    The way you managed the purchase of Palm should be taught in business school showing what not to do.
    A phone from HP - that's the last phone I would ever consider buying knowing HP's track record.  Stick to printers HP, not that I'd buy one of yours anyway.
  • I too came to WP after HP's failure... I was hesitant because I loved my Pre so much. I'm glad I found home with WP, but you couldn't pay me to take a phone from HP.
  • The more OEMs the better, stop acting like you were personally betrayed.
  • More GOOD OEMs are better.  As long as Microsoft is in charge of updating the OS instead of the OEMs, then a phone from HP shouldn't be that bad.
    Yes, more good OEMs the better.  It will take a lot for me to buy a HP Windows Phone over ANY other OEM.  To each his own.
  • I will never make the same hp mistake. Now I am left with multiple HP devices that are practically useless.
  • I feel you, I was in that same boat. I didn't feel betrayed, but dissapointed... I really liked my Pre and Pre2... HP had something great in its hands and messed it up big time... I found shelter in WP, but man that gesture area was awesome, and its gone, probably forever... Add to that their zero taste for design
  • Yes I've had HP devices in the past too and they were truly awful. It would take an awesome device, apps and guaranteed support for me to buy one of their phones again.
  • I can't express how not exciting the thought of an HP smartphone is to me after Nokia's event.
  • +1
  • + 10000000000
  • i work for hp would be great to see them offer somthing my company would give me for free :D
  • They could go with BB10, but that is highly unlikely as it will already be an uphill battle. I think ultimately they will make a Windows Phone with their own customizations and access to their specialized services. That being said, I think they won't have much to offer vs competitors since HTC already will offer Beats on their Phones, Nokia has their suite of app integrations, and MS is handling the Windows and Windows Phone to XBox integration which will be available on all WP devices.
  • If Nokia with a lot of positive goodwill (related to phones) left in many countries struggles to gain traction having started more than a year ago on their Windows Phones, I'd say HP has a major uphill battle. I'm not going to claim it can't possibly be done, but I wouldn't put any money on it. I could be different from the majority, but to me HP does not ring premium quality. There are plenty of decent quality vendors out there who have established their brand, which HP would have to take market share from. I don't see HP taking premium, nor budget. They might be able to take a few percentage points on the overall strength of their brand, and/or through contracts (for those whose employers still pay for phones, which I think will be less than even today a year or two into the future), but it would take a major rebirth of the HP perception and products for them to become a real contender. She may well be right that their PC business will continue to decline and that they'd need a viable phone product to replace those sales, but I have serious doubts she and HP are up to the challenge.
  • In terms of quality, HP did make the absolute best iPaqs Windows Mobile devices around and were the most committed of any company to Windows Mobile. I bought almost every single iPaq model since the first one made, and even have a working 1955 hanging around. HP is also known for quality business laptops and servers.
    Their history though is that they were never really committed to Windows Mobile phones (once the phone capabilities were added to the iPaqs). Some models they manufactured and sold without marketing, others they manufactured but only made available to HP employees, while others they listed on their website but never produced.
    it would be interesting to see them get behind Windows Phone especially in the enterprise market where they're selling their laptops and servers. I am very confident that they have the ability to produce really terrific devices, just not very confident of their commitment once they jump in due to their history of waffling on their non-core products.
  • Though this probably isn't too brag-worthy, I was rocking my iPAQ through the beginning of last year before moving to my Venue Pro:)
  • Unless they go all in and develop some Nokia level stuff with amazing marketing, I see no point.
  • I'm all for more companies making phones. I'm still not happy with hp after what happened to palm, but I won't ignore them if they manage to make a compelling product.
  • I was very impressed by the HP Envy X2 hybrid that was demoed extensively at IFA 2012.
    An ENVY phone could be cool.
  • I agree. Clearly they have an uphill battle to fight but they own tons of IP courtesy of the botched Palm acquisition and in hind sight it's hard to believe that the company that bought Compaq, produced the iPaq and then Palm couldn't put the two together with the Envy line and kick ass. WOW! We own 2 Envy 14 notebooks that are fantastic. I also have owned an iPaq and Palm Pre. Given the way HP TOTALLY botched those lines they have a HUGE problem but HUGE potential. Produce a glass ENVY Phone running WP8, sell it to your corp accounts and do it quickly or the company is lost. Really.
  • As an ex-Palm Pre owner, I'd like to be the first to tell HP to SHUT THE HELL UP.
  • Maybe if they focused their efforts on making a line if qwerty keyboard/touchscreen phones, that could be their niche opening in the US and developing countries. Back it up with exclusive apps and maybe some personalized webOS touches (with MS permission) and you might have something. I believe MS might be more open to letting OEM's tweak the OS a little bit to personalize it a bit in the future such as HTC getting to maybe add a live weather home screen or lock screen.
  • I think you'd be wrong in that belief. That would basically undo all the work MS would have done establishing the OS in the first place. Not a good strategy.
  • I didn't say give it a complete overhaul or make drastic changes. I'm talking subtle touches to help brand an OEM to their phone and the user's windows experience. MS did give Nokia permission to make changes, but they opted not to. Maybe you're right and it won't work, but it would at least be interesting to see what they could come up with.
  • HP!!!!!!
  • Toshiba were u at Sony,Asus,Dell,etc were u at get on bored!!!
  • Toshiba is a brand I would like to see making windows phone 8 phones (ms windows phone 8 phones makes people sound retarded!)
  • Who says that? When speaking about the OS, MS is mentioned because it their OS. When talking about purchasing a phone, it Nokia L920, Samsumg ATIVS , or HTC Titan, etc. If asked what OS it runs, then it's windows phone X.X
  • And Vizio
  • It would be nice to see an hp phone but the smartphone market is a difficult one, so I don't see hp making a phone & if they do I think they will wait to see if wp8 is successful. I don't think they could afford to take a big loss.
  • HP time came and went. They've burned people with the Venue Pro & Webos fiasco who would trust them again?
  • Venue Pro was Dell.
  • I know about webos, but the venue pro is Dell not HP
  • HP Vera
  • "-Management choices for making a new product -- you can only have 2 of the 3". How come you can only have 2 of 3? Is it because of cost you can't have all 3? If somebody could elaborate a little bit so I can understand?
  • It's call the Project Management Triangle.  Design something quickly and to a high standard, but then it will not be cheap. Design something quickly and cheaply, but it will not be of high quality. Design something with high quality and cheaply, but it will take a long time.
  • I'll take good and cheap.... and obviously, fast 
  • As a WebOS refugee, I'm happy either way, so long as Meg has bigger balls than Apotheker... did I just say that?
  • Finding refuge in WP from hp, this is awful news. Webos was an amazing os, maybe even better than WP. The only problem with it was the hardware was somewhat lacking. The community was amazing and the old webos staff was really dedicated. After the hp acquisition everything went sour. Apotheker saying that hp was "all in" about webos was a blatant lie. Then megs sad attempt to fix things. I loved webos, and for hp to say they want to make phones is another spit in the face to everyone that held out hope that hp would do right by their customers. There is no way that ex webos users would buy an hp phone, even if it was running wp8.
  • HP forgot to sell to the developer... No dev, no eco...
  • They had a lot of dedicated and talented devs that eventually walked away after hp did nothing with webow. But your right they did nothing to attract new ones. Check out carbon in the marketplace, its a good twitter app from one of the devs. Glu was a big name in games on webos. But hp just didn't get it.
  • Dell (Mobility) has already said NO, its not a game they can be profitable...
  • Dell and HP yes phones can be profitable you guys are well known brand names. It's not just about releasing a phone and expecting people to buy it. No one is going to buy your phone if you dont put effort into marketing it simple as that.
  • Maybe they could start their support with an app for their printers, I have the Brother app and it is nice being able to use my Focusi917  to print to my wirelessly networked Brother printer.
  • Well, I hope they put more thought into their products than they have in the past then.  I had a HP 614c WM6.5 which I actually sent back it was so bad in practice and yet it was such a great idea.  I also had a 514 WM6.5 smartphone, which was good for what it was but the screen was amazingly bad in direct sunlight.
  • I've never owned an HP Smartphone but I used many an iPAQ before moving to Dell's Axim.  Granted, they were all HTC devices with different clothes on but I would think tHTC was only building the devices to the specs that HP called for.  I was always more than happy with what they came up with and they designed a great PDA that was nearly superior to anyone elses at that time.  I'd be willing to give them another shot if it came around and got back their inspiration from days before.
  • HP get a compelling WP right out of the gate (1st attempt) and I MIGHT be interested but I am not encouraged by your track record of little long term commitment/strategy in the mobile space.
    I used your Jornado keyboard device and used the iPaq but left long ago when you clearly were not committed to either.
    The CEO also sounds a bit mixed up, "people who will never own a tablet, or PC?" the only group that might fall into that bracket would be poorer (developing) countries and the margins on cheap phones are paper thin and certainly not worth battling with the raft of Chinese vendors who are invading the market.
    If they are going for the premium market they have an opportunity to leverage their PC specific hardware to make some compelling accessories to generate increased PC and Phone sales but I just don't see this being anything other than an afterthought and suspect that if they are not releasing anything until late next year they will have too difficult a job to gain any decent market share.
    I wish you luck but anything later than Q2 next year will significantly limit the opportunity for success as the market will be flooded with others who have already built their second gen devices.
  • The thing about getting into selling WP devices is that the hardware floor is already set for you, and in honesty, the hardware ceiling (per generation) really is as well.  The differentiation comes in accessories and the areas OEMs can tweak (like the camera or camera software, the shell it comes in, the screen quality, perhaps a keyboard?, preloaded and/or available software, etc - basically, what Nokia does).  The iPaq was indeed a pretty awesome device, but remember that was Compaq, not really HP.  HP could very easily make a decent WP8 device, but they'd need to stand out to make any money with it, or have some sort of schtick (maybe selling it cheaply to their business customers - that might actually be a good avenue for a PC and services company to get devices in).  It's not impossible, but you can't pull a Dell (Venue Pro) and expect to be profitable.  One device with a gimmick isn't enough, you have to build on it and keep improving.  Also, I don't think profitability comes right away, although the WP ecosystem is probably easier and cheaper to get into than Android, where the big players there are already entrenched (and you'll still end up paying MS licensing fees to use Android anyway!).
  • The latest hp-product I had was a scanner...
    Wasn't easy to use though :-(
    A notation program I have do have the option to scan sheets into the program. In the help section there are a column that explains how to use scanners to do so, and that is about all scanners except hp. About hp there's 3 full pages and the note "Good luck" at the end...
    Ended up opening the door and throwing the hp out...
    But maybe they can build a good phone...?
  • I would prefer HP to concentrate on making the browser on my Touchpad work flawlessly. Too many times I get the Unable To Load Page error. Too many times I try to log into a website and the browser does nothing. Then there's the email client. On a regular basis, I try to open an email, and I get the Retrieving Email error and it never opens the email. These are the main reasons I bought the tablet!!
    I had a Pre+. Loved webOS on it, but HP's failure at keeping it going on fresh, new hardware makes me doubt their ability to succeed in the mobile phone business.