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Will a Return to Smartphones Turn Things Around for Hewlett-Packard?


The market might be too crowded for another entrant.

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Meg Whitman, hired to turn around the fortunes of struggling Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) a year ago, has announced her latest idea for the company: a return to smartphones

In an interview with Fox Business News last week, Whitman said that HP should add smartphones to its product line since it is a computing company.

"My view is we have to ultimately offer a smartphone because in many countries of the world, that is your first computing device. There will be countries around the world where people may never own a tablet or a PC or a desktop, they will do everything on a smartphone, we are a computing company; we have to take advantage of that form-factor," she said.

HP has, of course, previously ventured into the smartphone market with its acquisition of Palm, but failed spectacularly. This time, Whitman promises greater caution.

"We did take a detour into smartphones, and we've got to get it right this time. ... So we are working to make sure that, when we do this, it will be the right thing for HP and we will be successful," she said in the interview.

Whitman did not provide further details on the device, but it is likely that HP would select either Google's (GOOG) Android or Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows 8 as the phone's operating system, especially since its native webOS has been aborted.

Analysts have mixed opinions on the idea of a HP smartphone, with GigaOm Pro analyst Colin Gibbs telling TechNewsWorld, "HP had a chance to really move the needle with webOS, which could have emerged as a threat to Android and iOS, but it completely dropped the ball because it failed to commit to smartphones. I think HP definitely needs a move towards mobile -- maybe by moving more aggressively into the tablet market, but building a successful smartphone is a long shot at this point."
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