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February 14, 2013

HP Plotting Return to Mobile, Powered by Tegra 4 Chip

Hewlett-Packard (HP) hasn't exactly had a good run of luck when it comes to the mobile device market. But there are new reports that HP may have its eye on the market it didn't exactly leave on the best of terms, and it's looking to re-enter the fray in grand style with a possible new tablet, powered by the Nvidia "Wayne" Tegra 4 processor and an unexpected operating system: Google's Android.

The new reports say that HP's first Android tablet is gunning for the high end, and will be one of the first devices to pack the latest in the comic-book codenamed Tegra series. While there isn't much more known as yet about the tablet, it is known that the tablet has been in the works since back around last Thanksgiving. At last report, HP's projected tablet would be one of the only such tablets packing a Wayne processor, though there are similar in the works at both Toshiba and Vizio.

What's more, the new tablet may not be the sole foray into the mobile device market for HP, as there's word that the announcement of a HP-branded smartphone may be in the works as well. This actually runs contrary to an earlier report from no less than Meg Whitman herself, who said that HP wasn't offering a smartphone in 2013 when she appeared at the Gartner Symposium IT Expo in 2012.

This represents something of a major destabilizing move in the market space. Many still remember the HP TouchPad, and the ensuing debacle that ended in HP realizing massive sales of the device after units were marked down to $99. HP had said during that particular incident that that was its last push into the tablet market, but the current reports suggest there may be one more try in the works.

HP using Android for an operating system, as opposed to the webOS operating system, is an interesting step, but it's not hard to look at the competition all around HP and suggest that HP has its work cut out for it. HP would have to make a tablet sufficiently compelling to break the stranglehold on the market largely held by Apple and Samsung, with HTC waiting in the wings for either to slip up. A smartphone release would have nearly identical issues though with a slightly different number three. If Toshiba and Vizio can beat HP to the punch with a Wayne device in stock, that may drive down one of HP's only real advantages.

If HP could bring back a $99 tablet, meanwhile--like it ultimately did with the HP TouchPad--it may see much better results. The bargain tablet market is much thinner, though there is still competition to be found therein from things like the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Google Nexus 7. However, Google may actually be willing to help HP along on this one, as Google has had some interest in Android on the PC for some time now. With HP representing a desktop maker in a comeback mode, having recently overtaken Lenovo in units shipped, that could be just the foot in the metaphorical door that Google was hoping for.

It's likely going to be some time before we actually see a new HP tablet packing the latest in Nvidia, but it's also going to be quite the event when it does land.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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