Whitman Says HP Has to Do a Smartphone Again (Video)
Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman says it’s only a matter of time before the company returns to the smartphone business it all but abandoned 13 months ago. In an interview that aired on Fox Business News today, Whitman told correspondent Liz Claman that in many places around the world, phones are the first computing device that people own, making HP’s lack of participation in that segment a glaring absence:
“We have to ultimately offer a smartphone because in many countries of the world that is your first computing device. You know, there will be countries around the world where people may never own a tablet, or a PC or a desktop. They will do everything on the smartphone. We’re a computing company; we have to take advantage of that form factor. … We did take a detour into smartphones, and we’ve got to get it right this time. My mantra to the team is: ‘Better right than faster than we should be there.’ So we’re working to make sure that when we do this, it will be the right thing for Hewlett-Packard, and we will be successful.”
HP, you’ll remember, acquired Palm in 2010 for $1.2 billion, not long before its then-CEO Mark Hurd departed. Under his replacement, Léo Apotheker, HP sought to apply Palm’s webOS operating system to a tablet that it hoped would challenge Apple’s iPad. It didn’t work out that way and Apotheker shuttered HP’s webOS hardware operations in August of 2011.
Whitman, who replaced Apotheker 40 days later, ultimately decided that the webOS software was better off in the hands of the open source community, and is working on an OS called Enyo. Meanwhile, HP has placed the remains of the company formerly known as Palm into a stealth subsidiary called Gram.
Also during the interview, Whitman said HP has no interest in buying the troubled Canadian smartphone outfit Research In Motion. Well, thank goodness for that! Fox Business (which like this Web site is owned by News Corp.) has broken the interview into three segments, which I’ve embedded below.