HP returns to smart phones: Is Android the only option?

It's time for HP to decide whether to adopt Android as it prepares for a second crack at phones and tablets.

There's another player coming into the smart phone game. It's time for HP to decide whether to adopt Android for a second crack at phones and tablets.

"HP has to be in the game," HP exec Yam Su Yin told the Indian Times, signalling a return to the market after the failure of HP's first foray into phones and tablets a few years ago.

HP took a bath with the HP TouchPad tablet in 2011, after buying manufacturer Palm and investing billions of dollars in the WebOS operating system.

After the TouchPad went pear-shaped, HP eventually sold WebOS to LG. That means when returning to the phone fray it'll have to come up with an alternative platform.

The obvious candidate is Android, already familiar to consumers -- but also established as the driving force behind an array of rivals, from HTC to Sony, and most of all Samsung.

Android well and truly rules the smart phone market, with Apple a distant second, while Windows Phone and BlackBerry scrabble for scraps in third place. If HP were to buy into Windows Phone or come up with its own software it would have quite the battle -- but if opting to adopt Android, HP would have to fight to stand out from the pack.

Not everyone returning to the phone market is successful: Panasonic recently had a go with the waterproof Eluga Android phone, which sank without trace.

There's no indication yet of when HP will launch its new devices. 

Can HP avoid the mistakes of last time? Is there room for another Android manufacturer, or should HP come up with something completely different? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook wall.

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