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HP Palm WebOS Smartphone to Outflank Apple iPhone with Channel

 
 
By Jessica Davis  |  Posted 2010-07-21
 
 
 

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.