HP is getting trounced by competitors in the mobile market and reportedly plans to respond by adopting Google's Android platform for tablets and smartphones.
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HP is desperately behind in the mobile tech market. With no consumer tablet or smartphone to call its own, HP isn't even in the running against companies like Apple, Asus or Samsung. After its spectacular failures in recent years, HP needs to adopt a winning mobile strategy. Google's Android platform just might be the key.
The company is working on an Android tablet, reports ReadWrite, and should deliver it later this year. Citing anonymous sources, ReadWrite contends that the device will be announced soon, and will boast high-end specs. It could reach the market during the second or third quarter.
The tablet will be based on Nvidia's Tegra 4 platform, which boasts a 4-core architecture. It runs four Cortex A15 processors cores based on a 28nm processes. It also has a fifth, low-power processor to help manage energy efficiency. HP's Android tablet could be one of the first to ship with this new power plant on board. Other details about the device, such as screen size, were not provided.
HP currently offers a laptop/tablet hybrid in the Envy X2 (running Windows 8), but has not otherwise sold a tablet since its failed TouchPad back in 2011. The TouchPad, which ran webOS, hit the market in July 2011 and lasted less than two months before HP canned its entire tablet/smartphone business. The move essentially killed webOS, which HP acquired in 2010 when it bought Palm for $1.2 billion. WebOS has since been distributed by HP as an open source operating system.
What's perhaps most interesting about HP's new tablet plans is that it is choosing Android over Windows RT/Windows Phone 8.
There's no doubt that Android tablets (and smartphones) have all the positive momentum in the industry. Though Apple's iPad still wears the tablet crown, its share of the market has eroded steadily as more Android tablets arrive. It makes sense that HP would want to pick the operating system that gives its hardware the best chance of success. Android is clearly that operating system.
The choice could create tension between HP and Microsoft, however. HP's PC business is rooted in Windows. The company has a relationship with Microsoft that stretches back decades. Or is this a reaction to Microsoft's own tablet ambitions? After all, Microsoft brought the Surface and Surface Pro tablets to market on its own, products that compete with Microsoft's partners. Is there already bad blood? Possibly. According to ReadWrite, HP began working on its Android tablet in November 2012, not too long after Microsoft's Surface hit the market.
Android may have plenty of strengths, but HP will enter a crowded and competitive tablet market. The first device it is offering may be a high-end machine, but low-cost tablets such as the Asus-made Nexus 7 are gaining in popularity. HP would have to do something extra special with its hardware in order for it to compete successfully against the Apple iPad or Samsung's line of Galaxy Note tablets at the higher end of the tablet spectrum.
One thing is for sure, HP needs to get into the tablet market as soon as possible. It also can't afford to make any mistakes. Let's hope its Android tablet isn't another TouchPad in the making.
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