HP Inc. — the PC and printer side of the recently split HP – is trying to get back into the phone game with an interesting approach.
At Mobile World Congress, HP announced the Elite x3, a phablet (3.29 x 0.31 x 6.36 inches) designed for enterprise customers. But it’s not just a big smartphone – the device can be paired with two accessories that turn the device into either a desktop computer or laptop.
The phone will run Microsoft’s Windows 10 Mobile operating system and will take advantage of Microsoft’s Continuum feature, which lets developers make universal apps that run on any screen size: PCs, phones, tablet, Xbox One and even HoloLens, Microsoft’s foray into augmented reality headsets.
There are three parts to HP’s Elite x3. First is the phone equipped with Qualcomm’s latest high-end mobile “system on a chip,” the Snapdragon 820. The chip will have all the processing power to turn it into a PC. “For the first time, mobile chips can rival PC workloads,” said Michael Park, the vice president and general manager of HP’s mobility division, in an interview.
To turn the phone into a desktop PC, HP is creating the “Desk Dock” that supports an external monitor. Plug the phablet into this docking station and hook it up to a larger screen. For a laptop experience, HP has a 12.5-inch diagonal high-definition display that folds up with a keyboard and trackpad. Inside the laptop is just WiFi radio and a big battery — about two and a half times larger than a normal laptop battery. The phablet will connect to the laptop through WiFi direct or a USB cable.
For apps that can’t run on the phone — many of the traditional workplace apps were developed on Intel’s x86 chip architecture and built for traditional mouse and keyboard interactions — HP is offering a catalog of these apps that can be virtualized. HP plans to start selling the Elite x3 this summer and pricing hasn’t been determined yet.
HP hasn’t had much luck in mobile so far. The company killed off its phone division for the most part in 2011, after having spent $1 billion acquiring Palm. Palm isn’t likely to have much luck in the consumer smartphone market, as that segment has matured and the dominant players have mostly been set. Attempts at introducing a new smartphone brand for consumers is close to impossible at this point. But HP thinks the business market has plenty of openings left. HP is jumping back into the phone game because it thinks it has a chance to address the growing need for business-specific phones that integrate with legacy enterprise software made for the PC era.
“For us, it’s difficult to lead on the consumer side,” Park said. “The real pain point is in commercial. All the x86 apps are trapped in the PC world. What we’re doing is building a bridge to the future. We think HP can really differentiate there.”
This new mobile effort from HP provides a pretty compelling answer for what Microsoft’s future mobile strategy could be. Another phone that supported the continuum feature is the Lumia 950, which relied on a weaker Qualcomm processor. Now a company like HP is willing to try out this approach and run with it. “This is the best implementation of Continuum I’ve seen so far,” said technology analyst Patrick Moorhead, who has had a chance to get a hands-on demo of the phone.
“Windows 10 was built for an era of more personal computing, one in which your experiences, content and data are mobile with you,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a statement. “Together with partners including HP andQualcomm, we are focused on enabling customers to be productive wherever they are, furthering our mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”
“You’re going to see a lot more phones like this in the future,” Moorhead said. “Smartphone growth has been leveling out. People are looking for ways to make smartphones do more.”
Source: Forbs Magazine