John Paczkowski

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Smartphone Market Won’t Kick Our Butt a Second Time, Says HP


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Hewlett-Packard’s ignominious first run at the smartphone market won’t deter it from taking a second. Nor will some formidable incumbents who seem to have sucked all the air out the space. According to Yam Su Yin, senior director of the Asia Pacific division of HP’s Personal Systems Group, HP intends to re-enter the smartphone market, because it cannot afford to ignore it.

Asked by the Press Trust of India if HP is indeed developing a new smartphone, Yam replied: “The answer is yes, but I cannot give a timetable. It would be silly if we say no. HP has to be in the game.”

Yam’s response is essentially a distillation of comments made last year by HP CEO Meg Whitman, who said last September that it’s only a matter of time before the company returns to the smartphone business it fled in August of 2011. Why? Because if HP doesn’t revisit it, the company risks missing out on a large and very important market.

“We have to ultimately offer a smartphone because in many countries of the world that is your first computing device,” Whitman said. “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.”

Clearly, HP holds the same philosophy today. What’s not clear is just how the company plans to tackle a market that’s so thoroughly dominated by the likes of Apple and Samsung, a market in which it already suffered a dramatic and humiliating failure.

For what it’s worth, Yam seems to think there’s plenty of room yet to innovate in the smartphone market, and that HP isn’t too late to make a go of it.

“Being late you have to create a different set of propositions,” Yam said. “There are still things that can be done. It’s not late. When HP has a smartphone, it will give a differentiated experience.”

In a statement given to AllThingsD, HP confirmed Yam’s remarks and the company’s continued interest in the smartphone space. “In the short to medium term, we will remain focused on high powered computing devices such as workstations to mobile productivity tools such as tablets,” a company representative said. “In the long term, we will look at the right approaches to enter the smartphone market as well.”

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