While HP still hasn't made it official, sources are reporting that HP has decided that at least part of its tablet and smartphone future lies not with Windows or WebOS but with Google's Android. Who'd thought it!?
Well, I for one did. Look at the facts. Apple CEO Tim Cook recently said that in the last quarter Apple sold 23-million iPads, while HP—the world’s largest PC maker—sold 15-million PCs. And, who's catching up with the iPad in a great hurry? According to IDC that would be Android tablets. Since there's no way in heaven and earth, HP will ever be selling iPads, HP CEO Meg Whitman is hitching HP's wagon to Android's ascending star.
In a way, it's rather sad. HP looked like it had a winner of its very own with the Linux-based WebOS. Back in the summer of 2011, reviewers loved the WebOS powered HP TouchPad. Then, not even two months after the HP introduced the TouchPad, they killed it.
I'm still not sure why HP did this, Some have suggested that HP dumped the TouchPad because it was sluggish. Everyone I knew who ever had one loved it.
HP then promised that to open source WebOS and all would be well with it. Yeah. Right. HP soon made it clear that they were dumping WebOS and had no intention of doing anything with it on their own hardware.
You might think that HP would then turn to its long-time partner Microsoft for its tablet and smartphone operating system needs. And, indeed, HP is doing some work with Windows 8 tablets. There is, for example, the hybrid HP Envy X2 tablet/ultrabook. Unfortunately, HP, along with other Windows 8 tablet makers, is still waiting on the arrival of Intel Atom Z2760 Clover Trail processors.
In the meantime, Microsoft is still using its own newly launched Windows 8-powered Surface Pro tablet against HP and its other partners. With friends like Microsoft, who needs enemies when it comes to Windows tablets?
As for Windows RT, the version of Windows 8 for ARM-powered devices, HP has never shown any interest in it. In fact, Todd Bradley, the head of HP's PC business, said of the Surface RT that "I'd hardly call Surface competition." Bradley explained in an interview with CITEworld that Surface RT has “very limited distribution. It tends to be slow and a little kludgey as you use it .... It's expensive. Holistically, the press has made a bigger deal out of Surface than what the world has chosen to believe."
Of course, given Surface RT's market track-record so far, it's hard to argue with Bradley's assessment.
So, looking ahead, it appears HP has made its mobile operating system choice. While Windows 8 tablets will get at least some support, in the future I believe HP will be committing itself to Android.