Meg Whitman Says HP Won't Make A Phone In 2013

Meg Whitman

Photo: Joe Seer /

The world isn’t exactly holding its breath for a smartphone from PC maker Hewlett-Packard. It turns out that’s a good thing.While Meg Whitman insists that HP will eventually sell smartphones, she’s in no hurry to enter the market.

HP won’t deliver a smartphone next year, Whitman said during an on stage interview today at the Gartner Symposium IT Expo, according to Forbes’s Eric Savitz.

And she won’t say what OS the phone would use once it arrives.

HP bought smartphone maker Palm in 2010—well before Whitman arrived on the scene—but shut down its hardware operations and turned its remaining software-development efforts into a stealthy business unit called Gram.

Instead of the Palm-developed WebOS, HP is coming out with tablets running Microsoft’s Windows 8.

Whitman says that a smartphone is still inevitable because HP has to “offer a full range of devices” with a portfolio that goes “from the workstation to desktops to laptops, to hybrid devices.”

The fact is that HP will need communication technology for its hybrid devices. People want to use their tablets and PCs like phones and their phones like PCs.

Given that smartphones and tablets are ushering in the “post-PC world” now, why would HP wait so long to enter the smartphone market?

Frankly, she’s got her hands full trying to turn HP around and generate some cash for big new investments.

“In a turnaround, you need pacing and sequencing,” Whitman said. “Focus is incredibly important.”

HP is currently trying to break into cloud computing, make something happen in the super hot big data world with its expensive purchases of Autonomy and Vertica, grab more share in the computer-security market, get businesses to buy its new Windows 8 tablets, and recover from the blow to its high-end server business that came from a recent spat with Oracle.

So this choice to wait it out might be smarter than it looks. Because of HP’s complete mismanagement of its purchase of Palm, which happened before Whitman’s time, HP is utterly dependent on Microsoft, which is competing with HP with its own Surface line of tablets, and may come out with its smartphones, too.

In two years’ time, we’ll know a lot more about how that bet is playing out.

HP could by then be in a position to cozy up close to Microsoft and Windows for a smartphone, or push Microsoft away and go with Android.

And who knows what Gram will have cooked up by then?

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