HP Palm WebOS Smartphone to Outflank Apple iPhone with Channel

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

HP's new channel chief Stephen DiFranco tells Channel Insider his company is looking to sell its Palm WebOS-based smartphones through channel partners. The move gives HP a leg up against Apple iPhone with business customers, who are sure to prefer the WebOS' security, DiFranco says.

While Apple's iPad and iPhone may be turning heads with corporate workers right now, HP is looking to change all that. HP's new channel chief Stephen DiFranco tells Channel Insider that HP is looking to sell its Palm WebOS-based smartphones through the channel. The WebOS will also "show up on a number of devices" that partners can sell, DiFranco said, but he refused to specify whether those devices would include tablet computers or netbooks.

But most observers are expecting HP to do just that—ship its forthcoming tablet computer with the new WebOS. And it sounds like HP plans to also sell those tablets through the channel.

But can HP woo away corporate users who have been charmed by Apple's iPhone and iPad mobile devices? DiFranco believes that HP, with all its corporate experience, has a better idea of what businesses are looking for when it comes to mobile devices—security. And Apple doesn't offer it, he says. Neither does Google's Android operating system, which is featured on several smartphones and is slated to be the OS behind Cisco's forthcoming Cius tablet.

In addition to security—such as the ability to remotely wipe the smartphone if it's lost—corporate users are looking for simplicity of use and the ability to use business productivity products such as Microsoft Word, DiFranco said.

He has appointed HP channel executive Tom LaRocca to run the Palm channel business at HP, and points out that some direct market resellers are already selling smartphones such as the BlackBerry.

"There's a demand for these devices through the channel," he tells Channel Insider. He pointed out HP's recent acquisitions of LeftHand, 3Com and Palm as enhancing the company's efforts to provide all the technology pieces that corporate customers need. "Channel partners can offer all the pieces customers need, end to end."

Apple doesn't sell its iPhone devices through channel partners.

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com