HP set to launch Android smartphone, maybe next week

HP’s tenure as a smartphone manufacturer has been largely disastrous. They began with Windows Mobile, and moved on to WebOS after acquiring Palm in 2010, which failed spectacularly. Now however, it seems that HP is going to get back in the game, this time with the world’s most popular handheld OS – Android.

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9to5Google got an insider word that HP is set to release a budget smartphone for the prepaid and emerging markets (BRIC). Rumours are that the retail price off contract will be a paltry US$200, a price point which will see the HP droid competing with the Moto G and Asus ZenFones. Their source has stated that the device will be launching next week, but since no word has come out, this is probably not the case. Seeing as how HP is not Google which has the liberty of announcing and launching their device on the same day, they’ll need a hefty marketing campaign running for at least two weeks or longer.

Nokia Meego defector and new HP SVP Mobility Alberto Torres is said to be heading up the group which has been working on the product for a year and a half.

According to 9to5Google’s sources, the device resembles Samsung’s Galaxy Note II and shares the 5.5 inch screen size. A price point of $200 will definitely mean that the screen is not going to be higher than 720p, though. We might even see Intel Atom processors like how Asus has used, or perhaps HP will go the more proven route with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 400.

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Last year, HP CEO Megan Whitman confirmed that HP was working on a smartphone.

In the end, I would love to be able to provide all the way from the most fabulous work stations (by the way we just took over the number one position in workstations from Apple) to desktops, to laptops, to our tablets and convertibles, all the way to smartphone. But we did take a detour into smartphone. We’ve got to get it right this time. My mantra to the team is: “better right, than faster than we should be there.” So we’re working to make sure that when we do this, it will be the right thing for Hewlett-Packard, and we will be successful.

We have to ultimately offer a smartphone because in many countries of the world that is your first computing device. You know, there will be countries around the world where people may never own a tablet, or a PC, or a desktop. They will do everything on the smartphone. We’re a computing company; we have to take advantage of that form factor.

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However, she did point out that 2013 was not going to be the year of release, as we now know.

We don’t have any plans to introduce a smartphone in 2013, but we’ve got to start thinking about what is our unique play, how do we capture this element of the personal computing market?” Whitman said.

HP has to offer every kind of device, from workstations through all-in-one PCs, laptops, hybrid PCs, tablets “and, ultimately, smartphones,” she said.

“I believe that five years from now, if we don’t have a smartphone or whatever the next generation of that device is, we’ll be locked out of a huge segment of the population in many countries of the world,” she said.

Of course, with a launch date so close, HP has to announce it within days, so watch this space for more information.

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