In a move many pundits will say should have happened years ago, HP is putting to rest its history with webOS and moving to Android for its future line of smartphones and tablets. According to sources close to ReadWrite, Hewlett-Packard has been developing an Android-based tablet for some time and will come to market in the first half of the year with Nvidia’s Tegra 4 SoC.
The company would not comment on the rumours, but those close to the story claim that, despite HP’s claims that webOS will live on in the open source world, it has yet to uncover a viable business model for the discontinued operating system, and will push towards corporate-focused Android products going forward. This is also a blow to Microsoft, as the Redmond-based company has traditionally had a strong relationship with HP, and would have expected Windows 8-based tablets and smartphones to be a good fit with the manufacturer.
But HP has been moving away from its legacy positions in the market. While the company has mulled selling its declining PC business, it opted to hold on to it despite protests from investors. With the failure of its webOS division, including the Pre line of smartphones and TouchPad tablet, HP is in a precarious position: it must find a footing in the mobile business or risk obsoleting itself. Despite regaining the top spot in PC sales from Lenovo, overall sales of desktops and laptops will continue to drop as consumers opt to buy tablets or hybrid PCs.
HP’s CEO, Meg Whitman, said the company wouldn’t release a smartphone in this calendar year, but it can’t rule out returning to the market entirely — there is just too much to lose in the long run. The last thing we want to see is HP succumb to the “yet another Android tablet” syndrome; we’re hoping it can figure out how to differentiate itself enough, either by focusing on the enterprise market like Lenovo or, perhaps a better idea, work with Google to release a future Nexus tablet.