SmartphoneMag’s Nate Adcock recently posted an article called “What happened to the iPAQ”. His core point is that iPAQ’s look boring compared to devices like the HTC boxen, and that HP should spice up its graphics department to make its handhelds “cool” again.

Even though HP had some excellent consumer handhelds like my beloved rx4240, Nate IMHO still missed the point. HP is a B2B company that caters to businesses – and corporate IT departments couldn’t care less about stuff like TouchFLO. For them, every extra app is more support hassle…and the more an app looks like Windows 2000, the better.

The lack of upgrades has actually surprised me to some extent, as Compaq has traditionally had long model cycles with excellent spare/software update supplies (sometimes lasting over ten years). The reason why HP eventually stopped to offer WM upgrades IMHO was a sort of stand-still at Microsoft’s…the changes in WM 6 were not considered important enough by many to warrant the hassle of an effortful upgrade.

Thus, a generation or two went by without upgrades…and HP fell into the same mind set when Windows Mobile 6.1 hit the scene. But: WM 6.1 is completely different. Even though it looks bland from the outside, IT departments love it due to the addition of a central management server that allows WM devices to be managed remotely with ease.

And this is where the hare is buried. IT departments don’t care about design, coolness or duffergile – for them, a device must be easy to maintain. WM 6.1 gives competitors devices a real advantage here…an advantage that HP IMHO will not be able to ignore on the long run…

As for the current devices: I am sorry, but I don’t think that HP will offer upgrades for these unless huge movements happen in the market. However, I am pretty sure that the boys in blue will eventually rediscover old (IBM-American) values – it (hopefully) is a question of time…

What do you think?

P.S. In case anyone feels like asking about entertainment iPAQ’s – these probably are done for good. The competition is way to intense here…

Related posts:

  1. Re-Run: Do you speak iPaq
  2. Do you speak Windows Mobile
  3. HP speaks iPAQ – the Rudolf Gruber interview
  4. The hp ipaq 514 voice messenger review – Part 5: UI(aka the hp ipaq 514 screenshot gallery)
  5. NVidia and TI speak up on mobile dual cores

  2 Responses to “Do you speak iPAQ?”

  1. Maybe “cool” is not the only aspect I was searching for, but your points are well spoken, and well taken. You did answer my central question, and shed light on the issue for me. Not why didn’t HP create a “cool” device, but why didn’t it do a lot of things to keep their once-leading mobile device line more relevant? As a hobbyist user of the iPAQ, I admit to not being particularly educated about the corporate implementation issues for HP handhelds. On the consumer front, major chain outlets like Staples (at least the ones in my area), that used to feature HP products have dropped most of the line altogether, save for the GPS companions (really a PDA with GPS). That said, I know a few users in the corporate realm that wish they weren’t business users of HP mobile phone products either. This can’t be considered a good trend, regardless of HP focusing only on IT administrators. IT rarely has the only voice in these matters. Comes round to part of my original point about stability/usability. Why didn’t a company as large as HP, with what I would imagine would be serious innovation skills, cook more of that magic into their ROM? As you point out, MS did improve some of these aspects after WM5. However, not all WM devices are created equal in this regard, even with similar hardware specs (ARM processor, etc), which really boils down to the ROM. End users are even cooking their own ROMs these days, so the hassle to do so is trivial comparatively to offering upgrades, vs. brand new device configurations. I suspect many users would even pay for the upgrades, if available. I appreciate the answers to my questions, and share your hope for HP, even if I may have “missed the point”, as it were. Which I admit I probably did, and is what prompted my questions. You are correct that the HP entertainment PDA appears to be truly dead. Unless Apple creates one…oh yeah, it’s called the iPod Touch…;)

  2. Hi,
    thank you so much for talking back!

    All the best
    Tam Hanna

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