HP's Whitman: 'We have to offer a smartphone'

HP's Meg Whitman says the company has to offer a smartphone, despite the computing giant's move to ditch its webOS smartphone range last year.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

HP chief executive Meg Whitman said during an interview with Fox Business Network that the PC giant is "working on" getting a new smartphone on the market.


The firm previously had a range of Windows Mobile devices on offer for consumers and enterprises, but ditched the ailing operating system in favor of Palm, which was bought by HP in 2010. But in the face of the post-PC world, where smartphones and tablets are ruling the roost, Whitman hinted that the company will build something from scratch.

"We have to ultimately offer a smartphone because in many countries of the world that would be your first computing device," reports Dow Jones wires. "We are a computing company."

Surely Research in Motion's BlackBerry is a catch for the PC maker, with a low price and still strong sales in the emerging and developing markets? Whitman thinks not, however. When asked if RIM would be a suitable company to buy either in part or in full, Whitman replied: "No, that is not a direction that we're going to head."

Smartphones have not fared well in HP's history. Following slow sales and device releases that failed to compete in the face of the iPhone and Android devices -- and even back then, BlackBerry handsets -- the previous leadership set about unravelling its PC and phone unit in a bid to generate profit once again.

Former HP CEO Léo Apotheker said it would sell off the firm's Personal Systems Group, the division that makes its PC products and webOS-based smartphones. The world's largest PC maker cut 500 jobs at its webOS division in 2011 following the news. 

HP ultimately reversed the decision, keeping its consumer electronics and PCs on the go, but ditched Palm and webOS for the open-source scrapheap. 

The PC giant also said earlier this year said it would cut 27,000 jobs -- or around 8 percent of its workforce -- in a bit to restructure the company as it aims to recover its bottom line. In saving $3--3.5 billion, it will be invested in the firm's research and development.

Whitman said in the interview that HP was around 20 percent of the way through the five-year global restructuring plan, and expects flat business and slow growth for the coming fiscal year.

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