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HP's Bradley: We're not trying to be Apple

Todd Bradley, head of HP's consumer business, brushed aside suggestions that his company is trying to be like Apple with its purchase of Palm's WebOS.

SAN FRANCISCO--Hewlett-Packard is going through a lot of changes as it searches for a new CEO and digests Palm's Web OS, but don't expect it to follow Apple's lead.

HP Executive Vice President Todd Bradley HP

"Emulating Apple is not part of our strategy," said HP's Todd Bradley, executive vice president in charge of the company's consumer products division, at TechCrunch Disrupt 2010. Bradley was being asked about whether or not its purchase of Palm's WebOS earlier this year was done in hopes of creating a portfolio of portable devices with unique packages of hardware and software, much like what Apple has done with the Mac, iPhone, and now iPad.

It's different for HP, Bradley said, given its need to satisfy a broad range of enterprise customers who have different needs and may require more custom products. He pointed out that five years ago people were calling for HP to emulate Dell's low-cost hardware strategy, but HP focused more on differentiating itself from Dell through product quality and design, eroding its rival's lead in the PC market.

That being said, HP is taking at least one page from Apple's book by ruling out plans to license WebOS for other hardware makers to use, Bradley said. That was apparently a hard lesson learned: Bradley led Palm's hardware division back when Palm decided to split into two companies, one focused on hardware and one focused on licensing operating system software. It didn't work.

Bradley wants to use WebOS in smartphones, tablets, and other devices such as printers. HP has built a Windows-based tablet, he said, but it's not clear whether or not there will be a market for such a device.

In the meantime, HP is devoting a lot of resources toward improving the availability of WebOS applications and software-development kits. Since the acquisition, HP has increased the number of available WebOS applications by 50 percent, he said.