Hewlett-Packard has had its share of turmoil in recent months, still managing to sustain the lead in a debatably dying market — PC sales. The mobile revolution seems to have passed HP by, despite the acquisition of Palm OS, a string of failed Android devices and even the recently unveiled the HP Pavillion 14 – a laptop that runs Google’s Chrome OS. Not many were pleased with the device since it weighs more than other Chromebooks offered by Acer, Lenovo and Samsung, costs more, and has a shorter battery life.
But the release of the HP Chromebook only unearthed murmurs of HP going back to the Android platform for its mobile offerings, a market HP can’t afford to ignore.
According to sources familiar with the matter, HP will be releasing a high-end Android tablet equipped with NVIDIA’s Tegra 4 chip that was just introduced during the last CES. The sources claim that the Android tablet has been in the works since before Thanksgiving 2012 and it would be the first tablet to equip the Tegra 4.
HP is also looking into launching an Android smartphone, but given HP CEO Meg Whitman’s stance, the public has little expectation for a smartphone release this year.
But that’s not to say HP hasn’t tried Android on for size. In 2010, HP demoed an Android-powered smartbook. And in 2011 some HP TouchPads shipped with Android instead of webOS, though the company denied having any involvement in this, that might have been an experimental move to see if Android-powered TouchPads would be more in demand. But alas, no one really cared.
If HP is really going full-on Android, could this actually help them get back in the game?
Is Android HP’s savior?
The Android platform dominates the mobile market. It is found on many smartphones and tablets from various manufacturers. Consumers are always looking for the next best Android device and HP could use this to their advantage.
Android is an open and highly accessible OS, to the point where it’s become unavoidable for device manufacturers. HP wants a platform that it can modify to deliver the best device to consumers. Just look at Amazon. Who would have thought that a brand not known for manufacturing electronics could actually deliver something that consumers want?
Android could be a good opportunity for HP to diversify its device offerings as well. While HP seemed quick to give up on Android in anticipation of Microsoft’s updated Windows software for mobile and PCs, Windows 8 may not be picking up fast enough for HP’s needs. HP could really use a diversified strategy to reach end users, and that could be achieved with Android. HP doesn’t need to abandon Microsoft all together, but HP could better leverage the fact that Android is in high demand with consumers.
Beyond smartphones & tablets?
Android also presents an opportunity for HP to make other devices besides smartphones and tablets. With Android’s open platform & wide distribution, HP could work towards other devices and consumer services like the smart home.
Since Android is open source and free, HP can also offer quite a range of cheap and high-end devices to consumers.
Still, we can’t ignore the fact that manufacturers using the Android platform have to deal with fragmentation. This might be one thing HP should carefully consider before re-dedicating itself to using Android.
Here with more analysis on the Android opportunity for HP is Senior Managing Editor Kristen Nicole, who appeared on this morning’s NewsDesk show with Kristin Feledy: