HP Discover: HP admits mobile market sewn up by Apple, Android and Microsoft

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FRANKFURT: While HP is famed for its hardware chops dating back to its early days, the firm has been a notable absentee from the mobile market.

Obviously last year's flip-flop on hardware between Léo Apotheker and Meg Whitman didn't help, but the firm has hinted earlier this year that it would look to get back into the mobile world to offer enterprises a device from a brand they know and trust.

"We have to ultimately offer a smartphone because in many countries of the world that would be your first computing device...," Whitman said when speaking to Fox Business News in September.

"We are a computing company, we have to take advantage of that form factor."

However, at the firm's Discover event, the focus on software and services underlines that HP recognises it cannot assume its hardware divisions will be able to compete, especially with rampant competition from market leaders Apple, Android and now Microsoft.

This point was elucidated by Sukhi Gill, European chief technologist for HP, who during a panel interview with select media, said that he believes the firm is better placed developing its software services rather than mobile.

"It's a hugely competitive market with Android, iOS and Microsoft devices and I think with those three players our focus on the datacentre and analytics will bring more value than selling mobile devices," he said.

"Some firms are knocking out devices for $25, you've got the Raspberry Pi for £22 - everything is getting miniaturised so my sense is that investments around analytics and information will give us better rewards."

Gill may well be right, as firms like HTC who only a few years ago were market leaders are now struggling, while the numerous legal spats may also prove unnerving to HP, given it's already embroiled in issues with its own subsidiary Autonomy.

Then again, with Windows Phone 8 proving compelling and offering numerous enterprise benefits, perhaps Steve Ballmer will be joining Whitman on stage later at Discover in Germany to announce an HP hardware/Microsoft mobile software tie-up. We'll let you know if so.

05 Dec 2012

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