updated 11:25 am EST, Wed November 30, 2011
HP sees Apple with chance of becoming tops
Apple could overtake HP in the computing space in 2012, HP chief Meg Whitman said in a new interview late Tuesday. Referring to a Canalys estimate that had Apple as the top computer builder next year if the iPad was included, she told France's Le Figaro that it was possible. The company would try to get back to the top spot in 2013, but Whitman herself was so recent that her impact wouldn't be felt for some time.
"Apple has made an incredible effort," she said. "We need to improve our game and our products to retake the leadership position."
On webOS, the CEO hinted that the delayed decision on the the group was itself still on track and would be settled within the next two weeks. It "wasn't an easy decision" with 600 jobs on the line, she said. WebOS tablets were still dead, Whitman emphasized, but HP would "come back" in earnest in 2012 with its Windows 8 tablets.
She took a pragmatic approach to the future of tablets that was more sympathetic to Microsoft's absolutist PC point of view but left the door open. Tablets were still primarily for apps and media consumption, and you "couldn't" use productivity apps, the executive said. In spite of contrary evidence, most of HP's studies showed that it was a secondary purchase and wasn't treading on PCs. However, she admitted it was an "important domain" for HP and thought it was only incomparable to a PC "at the moment."
The company has had a troubled history in tablets. It first trusted Microsoft with the Slate 500's direction in the hopes of having a preemptive iPad rival but, after Apple's success, quickly shunted the Slate from its ambitions in the home to Windows tablets' usual small niche of enterprise workers. A decision to buy Palm was spurred by wanting an equivalent to the iPad using webOS, but delays and a poor reaction led to the resulting HP TouchPad being killed just six weeks into its life. The Slate 2 is limited to the same audience as its predecessor.