HP bets on Android and Chrome: What happens to Windows?

Long-time Microsoft partner HP is turning to Android and Chrome for new mobile devices. With one of its biggest partners looking to other operating systems in mobile, what does this mean for Microsoft?

ReadWrite reports that HP will be launching a series of mobile devices based on Android. The first, it says, will be "will be a high-end tablet that is powered by NVIDIA’s Tegra 4 chip."

In addition, ReadWrite says that HP is considering developing Android-based smartphones, although none will likely released this year. This comes on the heels of HP releasing a Chromebook.

This is all bad news for Microsoft. Ben Bajarin, Principal analyst covering consumer market intelligence and trends for Creative Strategies, told ReadWrite that during the days of PC growth, HP turned to Windows as did other hardware vendors. But those days, he says, are gone:

"That is no longer the case when it comes to mobile computing where Android is the leading licensable mobile OS platform. The reality is that if HP, or any vendor for that matter, wants to have a relevant tablet/mobile strategy, it has to include Android."

The corollary to that is that it does not necessarily have to include Windows or Windows Phone. HP has committed to Windows 8 tablets, and is already selling some. But it's not clear if it will ever release a Windows RT tablet. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols believes HP won't be releasing Windows RT tablets. He cites Todd Bradley, the head of HP's PC business, said of the Surface RT, telling CITEWorld:

"I'd hardly call Surface competition...It tends to be slow and a little kludgey as you use it .... It's expensive. Holistically, the press has made a bigger deal out of Surface than what the world has chosen to believe."

The upshot? Expect to see HP bet big on Android. It has to, if it wants to get serious about mobile. As for Chrome, that's likely more a bet than anything else, to see whether it sells. HP will still sell Windows machines, and plenty of them. But don't be surprised if in the growth area of mobile, it focuses more on Android than Windows.

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