HP demonstrates how not to launch smartphones

The smartphone business has not only become hugely competitive, but achieving success has become critical to the survival of the vendors involved. Apple, HTC and Samsung are setting the benchmark, while others struggle to keep up in the ferocious battle to gain the attention and loyalty of consumers.

To succeed requires the very latest technology, top-level design and imaginative marketing. Apple has been able to outperform in all of these sectors, while creating that elusive aura of invincibility. Altogether, Apple's execution is something to behold, and should serve as the guidebook for those that want to enter the smartphone or tablet business.

However, it appears that Hewlett-Packard didn't bother to even open the pages of the marketing guidebook with regard to its Pre 3 smartphone, which it launched last week in the UK.

The launch--if it can be called this--was described by the blog Mobile Burn "as the laziest launch of a top-tier smartphone in recent history," with H-P appearing to have done little more than make the device available through its EuroStore website.

The company had not even managed to convince any of the five UK operators to stock the Pre 3 handset, after publicly introducing it seven months ago. This lazy and careless approach should have served as a warning to the few that were aware of, or bothered to care about, HP's attempt to break into the smartphone market.

With appropriate timing, the company announced late last week that it would no longer make handsets or tablets based upon the webOS operating system, thereby effectively killing the Pre 3 smartphone and TouchPad tablet in a single move.

In an effort to somehow remain involved in the device business, HP's webOS chief, Stephen DeWitt, insists that the company intends to continue development work with the idea of licensing the OS. "We are not walking away from webOS," was DeWitt's rallying cry, according to This is my next.

However, while DeWitt failed to say who might want to license webOS, he did admit that the company had been using uninspiring hardware, and that H-P needed to stop trying to force uncompetitive products into the market.

At least someone is being honest. But the company now has to recompense the UK distributors and resellers that have stocked the Pre 3 in anticipation that a company the size of HP would know how to launch a smartphone.--Paul