Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Rob Enderle: HP Separates Handheld Unit

This post from Rob Enderle at the Technology Pundits site seems to be the first analyst mention of HP's decision to separate its handheld unit from the laptop division. In this piece, Enderle discusses the evolution from smartphone to the next generation of device, the "communicator". Enderle defines the "core attributes are connected to the merger of the Smartphone and the Laptop."

In the case of HP, Enderle states that it be "unwise to put a division working on this class of device in the group responsible for the device it would likely replace. Doing so would create a dynamic where the laptop group would want to cripple the handheld group to assure market share for the laptop group. This dynamic wouldn’t exist in competitive organizations like Palm, RIM, Motorola, or Nokia who are also moving on this opportunity."

Enderle notes that since "of these vendors HP is the only one with a true enterprise sales and support channel, it therefore makes sense that the unit have a greater degree of independence." Enderle believes:

A fully featured device should be able to address the market currently being served by entertainment devices like the iPod as well as cell phone and Blackberry like products. In short the potential volumes, assuming the massive disadvantages represented by the carriers can be overcome, exceed what HP could likely get from any other division including their market leading printer division.
He concludes:
The generation of Smartphones that that HP is launching in Europe this month is very competitive, separate, they have increased potential to do to this segment what Apple did to the MP3 player market. It won’t be easy, particularly since Apple is targeting this segment as well, but HP has some unique strength here. This new independence for the handheld unit should simply better allow the company to see if it can reach its potential and deliver the next big thing after the iPod.
I don't doubt HP's ability to deliver from a technical standpoint. The current smartphones/PocketPC phones they have on the market seem to be pretty cool. The big question I have is whether HP has the marketing savvy to drive this next big thing. In the world of mobile devices you rarely hear any buzz about HP. When was the last time you heard someone say or write that they had to get the latest and greatest gadget from HP? Yeah, that's what I thought...