When HP acquired Palm, the company’s target was WebOS. Palm’s mobile operating system is arguably one of the most impressive solutions in the space. But as Palm attempted to compete with Apple, it lost its way and failed to adequately deliver a viable product. HP can’t make that same mistake. It must evaluate what WebOS excels at, and start bolstering the software where it falls behind Apple’s iOS. By doing so, HP can position itself in the market as a company that might actually be able to trump what Apple currently offers. It won’t be easy, for sure, but it’s a necessity.
When HP announced that it was working on the Slate at CES, the tech industry erupted. Some wondered if the tablet, which would run Windows, would be able to compete with Apple’s iPad. But all that has changed. The Slate is now nowhere to be found, and speculation abounds over the company either deciding to offer an Android-based tablet or a WebOS-based Slate. In either case, the company needs to start delivering a tablet sooner rather than later. Apple is getting a head start, and so far, it doesn’t have a single company to worry about. HP should be that firm.
Although HP has acquired Palm for WebOS, the mobile operating system just isn’t ready to compete in today’s mobile marketplace. Realizing that, the company needs to work with Google to offer some Android-based devices. Admittedly, such a move is likely a short-term plan and one that it can decide to ditch if and when WebOS is ready for the mobile space. But working with Google on an Android-based smartphone is a priority at this point for HP. The company needs to gain a footing in the mobile market before Apple and the others leave it far behind. Time is running out.
The Palm Pre is a nice device that has more promise than perhaps any other product on the market. But it doesn’t appeal to consumers. HP needs to fix that. If anything, HP understands the value of offering products that consumers and enterprise customers really want. The company needs to use that focus and its ability to improve the Palm Pre. The smartphone market is an extremely competitive space that requires a solid vision and even better hardware. So far, HP has neither item. It can change that with a stronger Palm Pre.
As Apple has shown time and again, consumers and even enterprise customers want devices that are nice-looking and deliver the software that they want. Apple’s MacBook Pro line is arguably the best-designed slate of portable devices on the market. And unfortunately for HP, its offerings are far behind those devices. That needs to change sooner rather than later. Computer design is now a key component in the success or failure of a product. Years ago, an ugly laptop didn’t matter to most folks. But today it does. And until HP starts investing heavily in design, the company will look like the also-ran compared to Apple.
The desktop market is one space where HP can make a bigger impact. Although it’s currently leading the PC space in market share, its desktops are the same old, boring boxes that they were years ago. Admittedly, the impetus to make desktops more capable and better-designed is low, since desktop sales are slumping, but HP can’t allow that to get in its way. Boutique vendors are making a nice living on developing highly capable, well-designed desktops. And although HP has been improving its offerings in that space, it needs to do more. It must start delivering desktops that run the full gamut.
It might come as a surprise to some, but HP should be working on a Web-based operating system to compete with Google’s Chrome OS. Yes, HP has always relied on operating systems made by other companies, but its recent acquisition of Palm tells a different story. HP seems to want to be a player in the software space. And since the cloud is one of those places where Microsoft, HP’s biggest partner, isn’t performing all that well, maybe it’s the place where HP can break out from Microsoft’s grips and start controlling its own destiny. An HP cloud-based operating system isn’t such a bad idea.
The living room is the next battleground for HP. And so far, it hasn’t done enough to secure it from the imposing grips of Google and Apple. That’s precisely why HP should be doubling down on its investment in the living room with a set-top box. A key component in that box should be Web integration. With the announcement of the Google TV, the television is now becoming a more connected, Web-alive space for consumers. That should be right up HP’s alley. Although the company has many goals to achieve, preparing for the living room isn’t a bad one to keep towards the top of the list.
The Internet is the next frontier in the tech industry. And it’s up to all the currently prominent companies to either capitalize on that, or watch as their position in the marketplace slips away. HP is no different. The company should start using some of the cash it has on-hand to invest in Web companies. Whether it’s Facebook, a music-streaming service, or something else, HP needs to find a way to build a Web presence. Apple is doing it, Google is already there, and even Microsoft is doubling down on the Web. Now it’s HP’s turn, both from a consumer perspective and an enterprise position.
The future might not be a product, but rest assured that HP needs to be working on it. Apple is one of the few companies in the tech industry that can actually see changing market trends and react accordingly. Now it’s time for HP to follow suit. The company should be evaluating the current state of tech, both in the enterprise and in the consumer market, and start jumping on trends that it believes, work within its preferred scope. Such a plan will afford the company a far better standing in the future marketplace. It will also ensure that it won’t get left behind, as it was in the mobile space, going forward.