HP-Palm has become the hype that the mobile computing world could have done without. Is it really worth the hype? Will this $1.2 billion deal create waves in the already competitive market?
Hewlett Packard, the world leader in laptops (in terms of sales) has its own series of PDAs, less popularly known to the common man. The I-PAQ PDAs sold by HP does not rank among the top 10 PDA brands in terms of sales. With the focus shifting towards handheld computing devices, this may have been a desperate move by HP to claim its place in the competitive industry dominated by the likes of Blackberry, Apple, HTC, Nokia and O2.
This can really be an interesting analysis for strategy experts. HP, till date, was using the Windows platform in all its i-PAQ phones. Incidentally, I-Paq phones have been much criticized for not being very Windows friendly in a lot of user forums. By acquiring Palm, HP ensures it has its own operating system at last, the Palm in-house developed WebOS. WebOS has been specially designed to take are of all internet usage needs of the palm savvy netizens of the current cyber world. What remains to be seen is will the two interweave and create magic like the other smartphones? Or will it be like HTC’s earlier embrace of the Google’s platform, messy and non-productive.

HP has a very strong distribution channel globally, and this was something Palm was lacking, while it strived to compete with the movers and shakers in the industry, although it was amongst the first innovators of the PDA. While this gives the exciting opportunity to leverage Palm’s not so visible yet hgh quality phones through HP’s network, the core of HP can focus its internal R&D to what it does best, i.e. focus on the laptops, printers, scanners, work stations and servers. This again will mean an organizational restructuring may be on its way, surely for Palm, and possibly also for HP research.

So this may be a good time for the bigger players in the palmtop computing industry to do a SWOT analysis and rethink their strategy. With HP pushing Palm and given the parent company’s deep pockets (being one of the biggest technology company by far), we may be witnessing an interesting change of powerplay in this industry.

What do you think?

By Chakraborty

Dr Chakrabarty is the Chief Innovation Officer of IntuiComp TeraScience. Earlier she was Assistant Professor of Delhi University, a QS ranked university in India. Before that she has held research positions in IIT Mumbai, IIT Chennai and IISc Bangalore. She holds 2 patents and over 20 research publications in her name which are highly cited. Her area of research is in smart technologies, integrated devices and communications. She also has a penchant for blogging and is an editor of Business Fundas.