HP wants to control its mobile experience

HP gadget guru Phil McKinney is among those who believe everyone will eventually own at least two or three computing devices, choosing according to individual needs from among PCs, smartphones and everything in between. Right now, though, it’s that sweet spot in between that companies like Hewlett-Packard are racing to fill, with new products that try to strike the balance between mobility and user experience.

That’s where HP’s recent acquisition of Palm and its webOS software comes in. McKinney, the chief technology officer for HP’s personal systems group, was careful not to reveal plans for specific products during a talk at the MobileBeat 2010 conference Monday. (And he managed to get through a 30-minute presentation without once mentioning Apple or its iPad by name.) But he reiterated that HP plans to use webOS for what most people are calling tablets — HP calls them “slate” devices — as well as for phones and printers.

While giving no sign that HP would dump Microsoft as the operating system provider for most of its PC business, McKinney’s comments were probably no comfort to Microsoft’s mobile software folks. “We see Windows having its segments of the market,” McKinney said. But when it comes to mobile devices, he added, rather than relying on third-party software, HP believes that success lies with providing its own “end-to-end experience.”

McKinney also repeated his recruiting pitch for independent app developers, who are crucial to HP’s plans for building popular adoption of webOS. Echoing comments he made in a video recently posted on Palm’s website, McKinney suggested developers should consider building apps for webOS because HP has the scale and resources to sell “tens or hundreds of millions” of webOS devices, to both businesses and consumers around the world.


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