HP Not Getting into the Smartphone Business

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HP’s CEO says his company isn’t planning to use the newly-acquired webOS to make smartphones, but will employ this operating system in “small form factor web-connected devices”.

Back in April, when HP agreed to acquire Palm, Inc., the company made it clear that what it wanted was the webOS, which powers the Palm Pre and Pixi.

In a speech at a technology conference, HP CEO Mark Hurd said:

We didn’t buy Palm to be in the smartphone business. And I tell people that, but it doesn’t seem to resonate well. We bought it for the IP. The WebOS is one of the two ground-up pieces of software that is built as a web operating environment… We have tens of millions of HP small form factor web-connected devices… Now imagine that being a web-connected environment where now you can get a common look and feel and a common set of services laid against that environment. That is a very value proposition.

A Question of Semantics
Hurd’s comments will likely leave many scratching their heads thinking, “Isn’t a smartphone a small form factor web-connected device?”

It’s possible HP’s CEO is confusing people with his definition for what makes something a smartphone. To some, any advanced pocket-size computer that can make phone calls is a smartphone, but others — and Hurd seems to be in the second group — say that smartphones are voice-centric devices, while pocketable computers that are focused on email and the Web are a different product class, even if they can also make calls.

HP is apparently going to put its resources into making this second type.

In April, Todd Bradley, the head of HP’s personal systems group, said that his company is considering a range of webOS-based products, including tablets.

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