Report: HP to build Android tablet, maybe a smartphone as well

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Hewlett-Packard is working on a high-end tablet running Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform and may also produce an Android smartphone, according to a report from ReadWrite.

The report, which cited two unnamed sources, said the tablet will run on Nvidia's new Tegra 4 chipset and could be announced soon. The report also said that HP is exploring the idea of an Android smartphone. The report was backed up by The Verge, which, citing its own unnamed sources, said that HP is building Android tablets and is considering a smartphone as well.

HP declined to comment.

If true, the shift in mobile strategy would mark a major reversal for HP, which spent $1.2 billion to acquire Palm and its webOS software in 2010 only to shutter its webOS device division, turn webOS into an open source platform and write down its Palm investment for $1.67 billion in the span of about a year. The company's previous efforts to produce a tablet, the HP TouchPad running webOS, fell flat.

If HP were to get into the Android market, it would go up against entrenched competitors including Samsung Electronics, Motorola and others. Few Android OEMs have made money selling Android devices. Further, many PC makers, including Acer, Dell and Lenovo, have tried to break into the smartphone market, so far with little success. 

A return to the smartphone market for HP would not exactly be a surprise. In September HP CEO Meg Whitman said the computer maker will ultimately get back into the smartphone business, but she did not give a specific timeframe for when it would do so. "We are working on this," Whitman said at the time. "We did take a detour into smartphones and we have to get it right this time. My mantra to the team is 'better right than faster than we should be there.' So we're working to make sure that when we do this it will be right thing for Hewlett-Packard and we will be successful."

For more:
- see this ReadWrite article
- see this The Verge article
- see this GigaOM article

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