HP sets its sights on smart phones

3 Feb 2005

SAN JOSE: Computer giant Hewlett-Packard (HP) is to introduce its own-branded smart phones later this year in a bid to emulate the success of the RIM BlackBerry, siliconrepublic.com has learned.

At a special mobility summit in Silicon Valley yesterday, Ted Clark, senior vice-president in charge of HP’s Mobile Computing Global Business Unit, said that the company has been involved in mobile telephony and computing for more than 25 years, working primarily behind the scenes in enabling infrastructure such as special servers and software for mobile operators.

“2005 is the year of mobile for HP and it is all coming together,” Clark explained. “We are working to evolve the technology to improve the way we live, work and interact. Some 70pc of the world’s text messages are processed using HP OpenCall, which is used by 40 out of the 50 of the world’s biggest mobile operators. As well as this 27pc of the Wi-Fi hotspots in EMEA are using HP wireless local area network [WLAN] integration.”

Clark underlined HP’s mobile vision for 2005 by revealing a mobile email technology alliance with Microsoft, introducing new HP WLAN assessment and set-up services, a new range of financial options for SMEs as well as 10 new products, including handheld computers, laptop computers and tablet computers.

“It is our intention to bring out a new smart phone devices later this year as well as an iPaq pocket PC with EDGE, GPRS and Bluetooth functionality.”

Clark said that the success of integrated smart phone devices capable of instant email applications such as RIM’s BlackBerry are a strong indication of where business-focused mobile telephony is headed. HP, he said, has signed an agreement with mobile messaging software vendor Good Technology to bolt-on BlackBerry-oriented services in existing iPaq devices and future smart phone products.

“RIM has done a good job in building products but we still have many corporate companies coming to us and asking us when we are going to bring out mobile products that can be developed in the same way as our desktop services. Mobility is not only about email but many applications that matter to the business world. We intend to go head to head with the BlackBerry on any scenario,” Clark said.

Clark would not be drawn on whether HP was going to manufacture the device itself or through an alliance with another manufacturer but said: “It will definitely be an HP brand.”

Clark also unveiled a flurry of major technology alliances with household technology names such as Nokia and Microsoft. With Nokia, HP is working to bridge the paper and digital worlds using a special pen-based technology. The Mobile Forms initiative allows users to create forms, collect the forms’ data via a mobile device and then transmit it in real-time to an enterprise’s IT infrastructure, where the data can be saved, shared and printed.

With Microsoft, HP launched a special-hosted Exchange email messaging services that Baker claims takes wireless email to the next level by fully supporting wired and wireless users at companies as small as one user to companies with hundreds or more.

According to HP research, mobile solutions – including devices, infrastructure, software, data and professional services – are expected to grow at three times the rate of the overall IT market by 2007.

In a June 2004 white paper, Forrester Research analyst Michelle de Lussanet sated: “Compared with large enterprises, SMEs are more mobile and spend more on mobile services. Based on surveys among large IT executives carried out in 2002 and 2003, Forrester estimates that 20pc of enterprise workers are mobile. But relying on fewer desk-bound support staff mobility in SMEs surpasses this. We estimate that at least 30pc of SMEs have staff that are mobile.”

Clark concluded: “HP is moving to capitalise on a major shift in the business world from analog and physical to digital, mobile, virtual and personal.”

By John Kennedy