HP Steps Up to the Mobile Plate for Another Swing
Despite its mobile shortcomings in recent years, Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) still isn't ready to throw in the towel quite yet.
A year after shuttering all of its Palm-based hardware offerings, the webOS Global Business Unit, or the software remnants of the fallen smartphone company, has been rebranded as Gram. It will be a new company and a separate entity focused primarily on software and cloud offerings.
At the same time, the PC giant is also creating a new mobility global business unit, although this new division may or may not have a lot to do with Gram. The new mobility segment will focus on consumer tablets, and HP has tapped a former Nokia (NYS: NOK) exec, Alberto Torres, to lead it. Torres was the head of Nokia's MeeGo platform, which had nowhere left to go once the Finnish smartphone maker fully adopted Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) Windows Phone as its operating-system platform.
Interestingly, HP's new tablet strategy will also be centered on Windows 8 instead of its Palm/Gram platform, so Torres is confronting Windows platforms at every turn. His "first order of business will be to accelerate our tablet strategy." Windows 8 is set to launch on Oct. 26, just over two short months from now, but HP's imminent commercial tablet will remain within the PC business.
According to HP exec Todd Bradley's memo, the mobility business will eventually expand to other areas beyond tablets, anywhere the company believes it can "offer differentiated value" to customers. I imagine this could potentially entail a re-entry into the smartphone arena, especially with a former smartphone exec running the business, although nothing was mentioned specifically.
The mobility unit signifies a reinvigorated jump back into mobile device hardware, with HP committing to reinvest in mobile and a new array of products. Still, don't expect any Apple (NAS: AAPL) iPad killers coming out of HP in the foreseeable future -- or ever, for that matter.
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