Two anonymous sources with close connections to Meg Whitman’s company told ReadWrite that HP will build Android tablets and possibly even an Android smartphone going forward, news which was also confirmed by The Verge.
The first of these tablets has supposedly been in the works since Thanksgiving of last year and will feature Nvidia’s Tegra 4 chip. Further product details are however “still up in the air”. HP declined to comment on the speculation.
This news will come as a surprise to many in the consumer electronics industry, not least given previous comments from Whitman and HP’s mixed record when it comes to experimenting with other non-Windows operating systems.
Having acquired Palm for $1.2 billion in July 2010, the firm subsequently developed and released the Web OS-powered TouchPad tablet and Palm Pre smartphones. The TouchPad won praise from a whole host of reviewers (including this writer) but was ultimately unsuccessful and discontinued in August 2011.
HP has worked with Android for its Pavilion 14 Chromebook but has otherwise camped with Microsoft’s Windows for its PC and mobile efforts. The company’s recently-released tablets, the Envy x2 and forthcoming ElitePad 900, both run Windows 8.
The rumors on a HP smartphone have percolated for some time now but the decision to adopt Android may suggest that the company wants to avoid relying too much on Microsoft.
“HP supporting Android at this point in time is deeply strategic,” said Ben Bajarin, Principal analyst at Creative Strategies.
“As any vendor who has history in the PC industry knows, it can be rough when you are completely dependent on only one OS platform provider.”
John Gruber of Daring Fireball concurs with Bajarin’s view and speculates that Microsoft’s recent $2 billion loan to Dell could have brought on HP’s decision, as could a possible lack of faith in the Windows 8 ecosystem.