Big Week of Counter Moves – HP – Winokia

It was a big week for the contenders to the Apple-Google duopoly that seems poised to dominate the massive smartphone and tablet markets.

It’s safe to say moves are afoot.

First off was HP in their major attempt to be Apple. Now it’s difficult enough being Apple when you are Apple and even then it takes a dedicated talented team and an often dictatorial product focused CEO. Still, it took a bizarre string of opportunities and failures by Microsoft, Sony, Nokia, Palm, to name just a few; the iPod, OS X multi platform potential and maturity, Apple’s move to Intel at just the right time, and the design/usage synergy of iOS and multi-touch for Apple to be “Apple” right now.

So can HP be Apple? Well, HP’s first problem is that they have never been Apple. As many analysts have pointed out HP’s focus has been enterprise sales and channel management. HP hasn’t managed an OS path or direction in over 20 years. It’s been reliant upon Microsoft for those 20 years and that’s both a liability and an asset for HP. HP now owns their own OS and hardware destiny which could be great news if they can leverage WebOS effectively. However if they cannot, then they will find out that being Apple and making execution mistakes can be extremely costly. You only have to look at something like the G4 Cube to see how quickly a mistake can snowball.

HP’s new hardware that was unveiled looked good. The biggest problem is that it’s not shipping now. HP forgot Apple’s major recent rule. If it’s not a ground breaking device (like iPhone/iPad), announce and ship quickly. Don’t announce 4 months in advance of shipping without pricing information, don’t waste those new cycles on gear that’s not available now. In addition, HP stands a very good chance of their WebOS offerings being buried by new gear from Apple. iPad 2 will be out before the TouchPad as well as an updated version of the iOS and a host of new Apps, the summer update to the iPhone could bury all interest in the new WebOS phones. HP in addition if reports are true is learning that it’s not easy to match Apple on price on a none Wintel product. HP’s TouchPad could be $699 competing against $499 and up iPad 2 models.

HP’s faces a uphill battle in both phones and tablets, but the last announcement by HP may end up having the biggest impact, WebOS on PCs. As smartphones outsell PCs, and the tablet market possible skyrockets to possibly 100 million units in a couple of years, the name value/importance of the Wintel brand becomes increasingly marginalized. HP may be able to offer WebOS powered PCs at a price point $100 to $150 cheaper than their Wintel offerings. It maybe WebOS not Google’s Chrome OS that powers a family of successful Netbooks.

Horace Deidu certainly knows Nokia. He basically nailed the Nokia and Microsoft agreement two weeks ago. There have been some excellent jabs thrown at it by Google, two turkeys don’t equal an eagle, etc.. Here are the real issues with the agreement.

1. Time to market concerns. Nokia and Microsoft are already talking about devices in 2012.  Nokia and MS can ill afford to surrender an entire year to Apple and Google, again.

2. If you are a vendor licensing Windows Phone 7 why would you continue to pursue designs knowing that Nokia is going to undercut every market you are pursuing. If you are Dell, LG, and HTC, why not just accelerate your migration to Android.

3. If number two doesn’t happen, and HTC fields an entire lineup of Windows Phone 7 devices. How can Nokia make their phones distinctive and not get lost as just another Windows Phone 7 licensee

4. It does nothing to address both companies absence in the tablet market for 2011 where market share/mind share could be firmly entrenched for the other players.

5. Nokia just knee capped Symbian phones, and Nokia even in emerging markets could see a further reduction in Symbian phones sales for 2011. Abandoned platforms can get savaged during those interim time periods (the so called Osborne effect).

6. As a hedge against their own OS ecosystems tanking, Microsoft needs to be releasing MS Office for iOS and or Android. There’s a lot of Office revenue that MS is leaving on the table. This deal with Nokia probably ends any attempt by Microsoft to create those applications.

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