Will HP’s catch-up strategy with mobility ever work?

by Sharon Lobo    Apr 05, 2013

HP tablet

It seems receiving jolt after jolt is the order of the day at Hewlett Packard (HP), the latest being the resignation the company’s co-chairman Ray Lane for the Autonomy PLC fiasco. Lane’s resignation comes at a time when analysts are painting a grim picture of the future of the PC industry. The proliferation of lower-priced tablets and their growing capability continues to accelerate the shift from PCs to tablets.

Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner says, “While there will be some individuals who retain both a personal PC and a tablet, especially those who use either or both for work and play, most will be satisfied with the experience they get from a tablet as their main computing device.”

Since a decade, HP has being trying to gain a foothold in the mobility market but has met with little success. It started with the iPAQ range of PDA’s and later smartphones, which never stood a chance against the then mighty Nokia-Symbian partnership. Next, HP acquired the ailing PALM primarily for its then newly developed WebOS. This time around it lost against transformational iPhone and Android OS. 

As consumers shift their time away from their PC to tablets and smartphones, they will no longer see their PC as a device that they need to replace on a regular basis.
-Carolina Milanesi, Research vice president, Gartner

In the last few years, HP has missed the tablet bus too. And this is serious as tablets continue to erode the PC market. And as Gartner points out that this is not a temporary trend induced by a more austere economic environment; it is a reflection of a long-term change in user behavior. By 2017, it is estimated that tablet sales will surpass PC (Desk-Based and Notebook) sales by a huge margin. While HP’s ElitePad, which is designed for business hasn’t been able to make much inroads in its intended market, the pricing of its Envy series puts off buyers.

HP has been a strong player in the Indian PC market and especially a favorite amongst enterprises. However, as enterprises evaluate and adopt BYOD, the PC buying trend is ought to change. A couple of years ago, HP even contemplated selling its PC division, but later shelved the idea. While the Apple’s iPads will continue to define the benchmark for tablets, Android-based tablets will continue to be responsible for the growth of this segment. A couple of months back, HP announced Slate 7, an Android-based tablet, but will this move pay off only time can tell.