The rumor mills are churning around Hewlett-Packard and Android. Could it be a match made in mobile? After HP announced a Chromebook earlier this month, speculation is growing that the PC maker is moving deeper into Google's world with plans to launch Android-powered tablets.
Of course, it's just a rumor based on speculation in various news reports. HP was not immediately available for comment. But CEO Meg Whitman has changed up HP's playbook since she took the reins and has signaled that the mobile device business is important for HP.
According to the rumors, HP will push out an Android device that sports an Nvidia Tegra 4 chip, Nvidia's latest processor. For the record, this would not be the first time HP put Android on a mobile device. After failing miserably with its webOS-based TouchPad tablet, the company sold Android-based TouchPads. But those didn't fare much better.
The Microsoft Hardware Effect
HP needs to have a presence in mobile, what with the PC business declining. Worldwide PC shipments totaled 89.8 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012. That's down 6.4 percent compared with the same quarter in 2011 and worse than the forecast decline of 4.4 percent, according to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker.
Although the quarter marked the beginning of a new stage in the PC industry with the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft's much-hyped operating system did not immediately bring an upward shift in PC demand. In fact, the PC market continued to take a back seat to competing devices and sustained economic woes.
"Some of the PC vendors were really hoping that Windows 8 and Windows RT would jump-start new sales the way previous new versions of Windows did. But they are not seeing that," said Avi Greengart, an analyst at Current Analysis. "Beyond all the talk about being in a post-PC world, the other thread that runs through this is the fact that Microsoft has decided that it needs to compete with its hardware vendors with Surface."
Rumors Could Be True
Against this backdrop, it is not surprising to hear rumors that traditional PC vendors are looking for alternatives to Windows. And that wouldn't be anything new, either. PC makers have long searched for Windows alternatives to avoid being over-reliant-on Microsoft. Linux was a beneficiary and HP made its billion-dollar bet on webOS.
"These rumors that HP is looking to introduced Android tablets are credible," Greengart said. "You would expect PC vendors to work with Google -- not just with Android but also with Chrome OS -- and looking at other forms of Linux to see if there is anything they can do to help them grow outside their traditional Windows PC base."