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HP ready to make a new push with consumer tablets

The company is forming a new Mobility division to handle consumer tablets and other items, according to an internal memo by a top executive.

Hewlett-Packard is apparently diving back into the consumer tablet business.

The company is apparently developing a new Mobility unit to concentrate on consumer tablets, says an internal memo first published by the Verge. An HP representative confirmed the memo's authenticity, though he declined to comment on its substance. The memo is the work of Todd Bradley, head of the company's Printing and Personal Systems Group.

Beyond handling tablets, the new mobility unit will also be responsible for "additional segments and categories where we believe we can offer differentiated value to our customers," according to the memo. The unit itself will be headed by Alberto Torres, who joined HP after exiting Nokia. Torres is due to start his new post on Sept. 3, suggesting the new unit is ramping up quickly.

This is the second unit reportedly on HP's refresh list this week. An internal memo obtained by CNET earlier this week revealed that HP is spinning out its WebOS unit as a new company called Gram.

HP tried to crack into the consumer tablet market last year with its TouchPad. But that device proved a hard sell to consumers, eventually forcing the company to liquidate its unsold stock. By the end of the year, HP had dropped the price to $99 for the 16GB model and $149 for the 32GB model and was reduced to selling the tablet on eBay.

Will this second attempt prove more fruitful? The burden will be on Torres and his new division to make it happen.

Like many other PC vendors, HP is hoping for a boost from Windows 8. The company is planning a full Intel-based Windows 8 tablet. But it isn't expected to roll out a Windows RT tablet, which will be priced cheaper than its Intel-powered counterparts.

Here's the full text of the memo, via The Verge:

As the world's largest PC and printing business, we make it matter for hundreds of millions of people each and every day. Today we are taking an important step to serve even more customers in new and exciting ways.

I am pleased to announce that we are creating a team dedicated to delivering the best mobility solutions in the industry. With this move, we are building on our commitment to re-invest in mobility via dedicated leadership, focused research and development, amazing new products and a growing suite of applications and services.

Our new Mobility Global Business Unit initially will focus on consumer tablets and will expand to additional segments and categories where we believe we can offer differentiated value to our customers. Our existing notebook teams, including our soon-to-be launched commercial tablet, will remain within the PC GBU under James Mouton at this time.

To lead the Mobility GBU, I am thrilled to announce that we have recruited a proven executive from the mobile-device industry. Alberto Torres, who most recently oversaw the MeeGo products and platform at Nokia as Executive Vice President, will join HP as Senior Vice President of Mobility, reporting to me.

I am excited to have Alberto join us. During his seven years at Nokia, he held a variety of critical leadership positions, including two years on the company's Executive Board. In earlier roles at Nokia, Alberto ran the company's premium brand, its accessory and CDMA businesses and corporate strategy. Prior to Nokia, he was a partner at McKinsey and Company, where he worked with industry leaders in mobile devices, consumer technologies, software and Internet services. A Ph.D in computer science from Stanford University, Alberto currently holds vice chairman roles with the firms Bang & Olufsen and Opera Software.

Alberto's first order of business will be to accelerate our tablet strategy and begin to execute products against our consumer/SMB target. The exact structure of his team will follow that strategy.

Alberto's start date will be September 3. Please join me in welcoming Alberto to HP and in supporting him and his team in their important work.



Update, 9:24 a.m. PT: Adds response from HP.