Editorial: Why HP is not giving up on smartphones
There is a strange rumor going around in the community how HP is planning on dropping their smartphone line after the release of the Pre 3 to only focus on webOS for tablet devices, PCs, and any number of future devices that haven't yet been announced. What I think, though, is that rumor is nothing but nonsensical rubbage and here is why.
HP spent $1.2 billion in acquiring Palm less than a year ago. In that time they have announced three new smartphone devices and released one of them (with another coming just around the corner). They have made several notices that no less than 6 devices will be released within a year and that their major goal is to create an entire webOS ecosystem to compete with the likes of Apple's iOS and Google's Android ecosystems. They even went into a good amount of detail about how they will leverage the cloud to enhance this super-ecosystem that they are developing, and have made further acquisitions since Palm to strengthen their claim to the mobile-computing throne.
Add on top of that one of the most anticipated and unique features of the TouchPad being Tap-to-Share, and you are now extremely hard-pressed to even consider that HP is going to be dropping smartphones from the lineup (much like they are dropping the Palm brand from everything).
HP is trying to win over the population to use their devices in every communication-focused activity of their lives. Communication includes connecting to the internet on a touchpad, playing video games on your desktop PC, printing a map off of your printer, and even chatting over IM with your friends using a smartphone. HP knows that this market is growing very rapidly, and have even estimated that more than 100 million webOS devices will be shipped next year. That's not just how many printers, TouchPads and PCs will be sold running webOS on them, it must include smartphones as well.
But if the numbers and scripted talk from executives don't convince you that HP is not dropping smartphones, then consider this: One of the arguments made that has helped spread this strange rumor is that the tablet does not actually need a device to connect between it and the PC, they complement each other feature-for-feature. The TouchPad can, however, be seen as the intermediate device between a webOS Smartphone and a PC. What person will want to take a TouchPad with them to, say, the gym so that they can listen to music while jogging? No one will, and if the rumor is true that HP is dropping smartphones, then those gym-goers will have no choice but to choose a different device for their music needs. Like an iPhone or an Evo.
Is that something that HP wants to see happen?
By considering that a smartphone will often act as an introductory mobile device to webOS (after the PC, that is), you can also see that HP can use smartphones to bring more people in to purchase the larger and more status-friendly TouchPad. Think of a Smartphone like webOS's gateway drug into bigger and better things (tablets, printers, pc's).
Bottom line is, unless we have completely misunderstood what HP was telling us when they emphasised their interest in creating a strong webOS ecosystem, there is no way at all that they are giving up their Smartphone line. This is an area where HP still have a chance to gain an edge on the competition. If they play their cards right, you'll start seeing the other companies struggling to catch up with what HP has done with the ecosystem that they'll be selling, and that IS something that HP wants to see happen.