HP Joins Smart Crowd

(22 Oct 2008, BWCS Staff)

Hewlett-Packard is today launching a pair of shining new smart-phones designed to take on the BlackBerry and the iPhone in the all-important business mobile user market. The high-tech handsets will be sold by Vodafone in a European-wide deal.

HP is clearly following the lead taken by Apple and more recently Google, who have both dived into the mobile phone market. Dell and Acer are also said to have smart-phones up their sleeves waiting to be produced. The drive behind these moves is an attempt to corner some of the burgeoning market among (mainly) business users for e-mail on the go and high-speed internet access whilst away from the desk. 

HP's new iPaq Voice Messenger and iPaq Data Messenger, will be available in the UK on Vodafone first with other countries following. David Wright, vice president and general manager of HP's personal systems group, said the new smart phones are designed to bridge the gap between work and play, targeting what the company calls "prosumers", or professional consumers, and small and medium businesses.

However, analysts have warned that this is a tough time to enter an already crowded market. Research in Motion (RIM), proud parent of the BlackBerry phone, has recently launched two new devices - the clamshell Pearl Flip and the touch-screen Storm, both designed to widen the BlackBerry appeal to consumers rather than merely business users. 

In terms of smart phone sales, Nokia still leads the way with a 47.5% share of the market, however, RIM is gaining ground accounting for 17.4% of smart phone sales in the second quarter of this year, up from 8.9% previously. HP currently has less than 3.3% of global smart phone sales.

HP acquired the original iPaq range of PDAs, or hand-held computers, when it bought Compaq, the computer maker, in 2001. It launched its first two smart phones connected to mobile networks earlier this year. Pricing details also remain to be announced, and will be available on a country-by-country basis. The phones will also be available via HP's Web site, the iPaq Data Messenger is expected to be priced at €549 (US$725) and the iPaq Voice Messenger is expected to be priced at €449.


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