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HP CEO: We'll 'ultimately' offer smartphones, too

HP's Meg Whitman says the company will eventually jump back into the smartphone market, but doesn't say when. HP ditched its webOS smartphone lineup last year.

HP bought Palm in 2010, but ditched the unit last year

HP chief executive Meg Whitman said during an interview with Fox Business Network that the PC giant is "working on" getting a new smartphone to market.

The firm previously had a range of Windows Mobile devices on offer for consumers and enterprises, but ditched the ailing operating system in favor of Palm, which was bought by HP in 2010. HP then ditched its Palm-based lineup last year.

But with a post-PC world future in which smartphones and tablets rule the roost, Whitman hinted that the company will build something from scratch.

"We have to ultimately offer a smartphone because in many countries of the world that would be your first computing device," reports Dow Jones wires. "We are a computing company."

You might think Research in Motion's BlackBerry would be a catch for the PC maker, given that the company is cheap and still pulls in strong sales in the emerging and developing markets. Not Whitman. Asked if RIM would be a suitable company to buy either in part or in full, she replied: "No, that is not a direction that we're going to head."

HP has not fared well with smartphones to date. Following slow sales and device releases that failed to compete with the iPhone and Android devices -- even, back then, BlackBerry handsets -- the previous leadership set about unravelling its PC and phone unit in a bid to generate profit once again.

Former HP CEO Léo Apotheker said it would sell off the firm's Personal Systems Group, the division that makes its PC products and webOS-based smartphones. The world's largest PC maker cut 500 jobs at its webOS division in 2011 following the news. 

HP ultimately reversed the decision, keeping its consumer electronics and PCs in-house. But it ditched Palm and webOS, tossing them onto the open-source scrapheap.

The PC giant also said earlier this year said it would cut 27,000 jobs -- or around 8 percent of its workforce -- in a bid to restructure the company. It plans to redirect $3 billion to 3.5 billion in savings into research and development.

Whitman said in the interview that HP was around 20 percent of the way through the five-year global restructuring plan, and expects flat business and slow growth for the coming fiscal year.

This item first appeared on ZDNet under the headline "HP's Whitman: 'We have to offer a smartphone eventually'."