HP Reportedly Working On Android Smartphones And Tablets, Despite webOS Failures

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HP is looking into getting back into the mobile hardware game, according to a new report from ReadWrite which the Verge says is being confirmed from their own sources. HP famously bought webOS and then brought a tablet to market based on that Palm-developed platform, the TouchPad, which ended up being a dismal failure that the company shut down very quickly.

HP had also launched a smartphone, the Veer 4G based on webOS, but that also proved ineffective at capturing the attention of consumers. The company is apparently still looking to get back into the hardware game after a hiatus spanning a couple of years, however, with a new tablet featuring an NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor, which ReadWrite pegs for an imminent announcement, and is also considering Android-based smartphone for future development. Verge reports that the timeline sounds good, but scheduling could change for a tablet launch.

After HP CEO Meg Whitman took over, she announced that the company would ultimately offer a smartphone to keep up with the fact that for many in the developing world, such a device is now their first and maybe only computer. That launch isn’t planned for 2013, however, Whitman later stated.

But back in late 2011, Whitman did make statements to the effect that HP could create webOS-powered tablets again in 2013. While these reports suggest webOS is likely off the table, HP could stick to Whitman’s target plan of fielding a tablet device based on a mobile OS this year, but one based on Android instead of its own product, which it has since open-sourced.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that HP would dip its toes back in the mobile hardware pool even after suffering such a reversal the first time around. The fact is that mobile is where the computing industry is going, and Apple’s iPad is almost singlehandedly propping up the sagging fortunes of traditional mobile PC form factors like notebooks. And HP missed earnings expectations in Q4 2012, thanks in part to a continuing “decline in hardware.”

A tablet isn’t a panacea for HP, however. The Android tablet market still has yet to find a champion that can compare to the iPad’s popularity, and there is plenty of competition out there for buyer attention. Fielding a device that impresses above and beyond what’s already out there, at a price point that turns heads is a basic requirement for Android tablet success at this point, from HP or from anyone else.