Hewlett-Packard's first foray into smartphones with WebOS fizzled badly, but CEO Meg Whitman says HP will eventually have to offer a smartphone or risk losing business in countries whose citizens primarily access the Internet via mobile devices.
"We are working on this," Whitman said Thursday in a television interview with Fox Business Network. "My view is, we have to ultimately offer a smartphone because in many countries of the world, that is your first computing device."
HP entered the smartphone market last May with its WebOS-powered Veer, which it sold exclusively through AT&T. Weighing in at 3.63 ounces, the Veer was about the size of a credit card and the thickness of a deck of cards. AT&T described it as a "refreshing alternative to the larger smartphone devices."
HP's second smartphone, the Pre 3, was a larger device with a 3.6-inch display and a Snapdragon processor, but it never made it onto U.S. store shelves. HP last August announced plans to shut down its WebOS hardware unit and ended up liquidating most of its Veer, Pre 3 and TouchPad inventory in internal auctions and through retail fire sales.
HP last month spun off the remnants of its WebOS Global Business Unit into a separate company called Gram.
While HP has no immediate plans to develop a new smartphone, Whitman told Fox Business that HP would be dropping the ball by not making a smartphone to go along with its tablets and PCs.
"There will be countries around the world where people may never own a tablet or a desktop -- they will do everything on a smartphone," Whitman said in the interview. "We are a computing company, [and] we have to take advantage of that form factor."
PUBLISHED SEPT. 14, 2012