HP’s mobile strategy has recently left a few open questions in some analyst’s heads. As TamsPPC has had an excellent relationship with HP ever since we debuted on a rx4240, we proudly present you this interview with Rudolf Gruber.
Rudolf Gruber is the sales manager for mobile devices for HP Austria – he sat down with us for a no-holds-barred interview looking at topics like custom UI’s, PDAs, the future of touchscreen devices and Windows Mobile 6.1 upgrades.
A big thank-you goes out to him for taking the time!
Please tell us a bit more about yourself! (translated by editor)
I am at HPO since 1982. When HP was merged with Compaq in 2002, I became responsible for marketing the business line of mobile computing devices for the Austrian market. This means that I am responsible for iPaqs and business notebooks alike, and hope to be able to answer your questions well!
Let’s dive in head first: the 21x is a great PDA hampered by the lack of a Windows Mobile 6.1 upgrade. Readers are unhappy, as HP once was considered a “future-safe” investment. Could you shed some light on why there are no upgrades available?
HP is evaluating for all iPAQ platforms, what are the Pro & Cons for the customer to move to a new Windows Mobile version.
Taking Windows Mobile 6.1, the key improvements were rather relevant for the Smartphones (eg. UI, OTA device management), which are not of big value for pen/based PDAs. On top of that the 21x platform is mainly selling into Enterprise and MidMarket, where long life cycles and ROM stability are key influencers.
A big part of HPs enterprise customers are running their own applications on our pen/based products. Thats the reason why their are expecting platform stability for at least 2yrs.
In two years from now, do you still see HP producing PDA’s?
HP still has a very strong position in the PDA market, and even if this market is declining with almost 50% market share in EMEA thats definitely a business we will not step out shortterm. Nevertheless the focus for HP is clearly in the converged space.
Palm has enjoyed huge success with its ultra-cheap handhelds. Do you plan to do something similar / can something similar even be done with Windows Mobile?
Portfolio bandwidth including affordable price bands are major influencers in the Smart Mobile Device Market.
HP has launched two new smartphones on Oct 21 to expand the portfolio with a 20Key voice-centric smartphone and a large display slider device. With those new platforms we are covering multiple form factors for different customer segments also looking for different pricepoints.
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HP’s phone products are notorious for their QVGA screens. Why doesn’t HP deploy higher-res screens?
HP is always evaluating new technologies. This also includes the evaluation of new screen technologies and new User Interfaces. Form factors are pretty much influencing the decision for a specific screensize.
For small screen sizes below 2.8″ only a limited number of customers are looking for high res screens, thats was the outcome of multiple focus groups we did.
Nevertheless for larger screens the future is highres, touchscreen and improved UI. HP is investing a lot in R&D for those areas to develop products, which are time to market in terms of latest technology, securing a superior user experience.
Looking at Windows Mobile: are you happy with the way the platform is developing currently?
The WM platform has massively evolved over the last couple of years and brings huge benefits in terms of end/to/end user experience for multiple target segments, not only for enterprise and midmarket customers.
Microsoft has put a lot of efforts to into the overall Messaging capabilities and integration into Microsoft backend systems.
Most manufacturers add a huge bunch of UI apps to their devices. HP does not – why?
HP is evaluating new user interfaces with a higher integration compared to what we do see today in the market. The benefit of a more graphical user interface is obvious, but it only makes sense, if such a user interface is fully embedded into the ROM and the key applications.
Where do you see WM two years from now? Do you think that the touchscreen-less WMS will survive?
Touchscreen based products are a big trend today and many new products came up and will come up in the future. This will surely be a growing market.
Nevertheless there is a big variety of form factor preferences in the market, which will also keep opportunities for non touchscreens.
How do you think that th mobile OS landscape will look in two years from now? In five?
For the evolution of mobile OS platforms, there are multiple influencers, GTM strategy, customer focus, ISVs, VARs, devices supporting those OS platforms etc.
As the Smart Mobile Device Market is still one of the fastest growing markets, there are a lot of new opportunities.