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HP's Apotheker changes his tune on mobility

6 months after the 'vision,' reality takes its toll on HP's mobile ambitions

By , Network World
August 19, 2011 01:15 PM ET

Network World - Six months after laying out his "strategic vision" for HP, CEO Leo Apotheker took the actions to realize it. And abandoned the mobile computing space.

In a March 2011 interview, Apotheker was asked about HP's view and plans for the consumer space, where it has been a strong brand in personal computing, and for mobility. His comments then and his actions this week show how his view of these market dynamics has changed.

A year ago, HP acquired Palm for $1.2 billion, mainly to get its hands on Palm's innovative webOS for smartphones. Almost from the outset, HP made it clear that it saw webOS as a strategic platform for a whole range of connectivity-enabled devices, mobile and otherwise: webOS would be bundled with its Windows PCs, and with printers and other HP devices, including a new line of tablets to compete with the market created by Apple's hugely successful iPad.

ANALYSIS: HP's webOS failure highlights PC giants' mobile struggle

This week, as part of a massive reorganization, HP announced it would stop selling webOS tablets and smartphones, including its first webOS tablet, the HP TouchPad, introduced barely 50 days earlier. Instead, Apotheker said, the company will focus on the "enterprise information management space" and software.

Apotheker was asked in March what HP tablets would offer enterprise users that Apple's tablets can't.

Apotheker: "There are a certain number of native things that are built into webOS that made webOS into a very unique proposition. The best way to describe it is that it's capable of truly multitasking, it's capable of really sharing information, and it's able to synergize a lot of the things that are happening in the Web. The reason for that is it's the only operating system, Apple's included, that has been designed from the ground up to assume that you're always connected. So that's point No. 1.

"And point No. 2 is that we are capable -- and that's the thing that makes HP rather unique -- of totally securing and managing these devices for an enterprise with our technology. The CIO can be absolutely at ease with knowing that the devices he will get from HP, he will get something that is totally secured, absolutely manageable. He can switch these things on and off whenever he wants, for any user, and all of the capabilities that are developed with it."

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