With Microsoft as tablet rival, will HP go Android?

Hewlett-Packard has a lot of reasons to go Android. Microsoft is one of them.

First a Chromebook, next an Android tablet?
First a Chromebook, next an Android tablet? Hewlett-Packard

If Hewlett-Packard introduces an Android tablet , the newfound rivalry with Microsoft will be one motivating factor, according to analysts.

"I can see why they would go down this route instead of sticking with Microsoft for everything," said Ben Bajarin, a principal at Creative Strategies.

That may be putting it charitably. "[PC makers] are pissed off at Microsoft. That's the general mood," said Roger Kay, principal analyst at Endpoint Technologies, referring to Microsoft's entry into the PC/tablet market with Surface.

Surface practically precluded HP from coming out with a Windows RT tablet based on an ARM chip -- the same silicon used for Android devices -- Kay said.

In fact, HP scuttled plans last year to bring out an RT tablet and then dissed Microsoft's device publicly, calling it "slow...kludgy" and "expensive."

But that of course isn't the only reason HP would do an Android tablet. It could, for instance, try to take the lead in bringing Android tablets to large corporate customers, Bajarin said.

To some extent, Samsung is doing that in phones now, but HP, being the largest PC maker in the world, could spearhead Android for business, according to Bajarin. "They could see that as a big opportunity," he said.

And being late to the Android market isn't all bad. "All the development in Android up to this point accrues so they can claim to be on board without a whole lot of development that they have to do independently," Kay said.

This would come about two years after HP's WebOS tablet debacle . In August of 2011, the company terminated its TouchPad only a month and a half after the device's introduction.

It also ended plans for a WebOS-based phone at that time.

HP currently offers the Windows 8-based ElitePad 900 tablet and a Windows 8 hybrid tablet-laptop: the Envy x2. Both are based on Intel's power-efficient -- and relatively slow -- Atom processor.

And it already has one product based on a Google operating system. It's selling a Chromebook for $330.

HP declined to comment.

Remember the WebOS-based HP TouchPad? This time HP will adopt Android.  The company already has a Windows 8 tablet.
Remember the WebOS-based HP TouchPad? This time HP will adopt Android. The company already has a Windows 8 tablet. Hewlett-Packard
About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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