Folks, the train has left the station: HP this week released a series of videos about its upcoming Elite x3 Windows phone, eliminating any doubt that it plans to re-enter the smart phone market with Microsoft’s failed platform.
I think this strategy is a mistake, though as I noted exclusively in my article With Elite x3, HP Takes Windows Phone to the Enterprise, it’s not like HP had much choice. With Google unwilling or unable to adapt Android to HP’s security and manageability needs, and Intel still years away from delivering an acceptable smart phone hardware platform, HP could either go to market with an ARM-based Windows phone offering or continue to ignore the single biggest personal computing platform on earth.
So it’s diving in, and it’s doing so in a way that is both measured—by focusing only on businesses, which is smart—and audacious, by making the lackluster Windows phone platform shine as brightly as possible with beautiful and powerful hardware, truly interesting accessories, and smart supporting services. Say what you will, but HP are really going for it here.
To help promote and support this new offering, HP has released a series of videos featuring high-level executives from inside and outside the company. And their short testimonials offer an interesting peek at how HP and Microsoft are collectively positioning the Elite x3 specifically, and Windows 10 Mobile generally, going forward.
First up, Microsoft’s Terry Myerson.
In this video, Terry never utters the words “Windows 10 Mobile,” opting instead for just “Windows 10,” which is smart. “The Elite x3 brings to life our vision for the future of computing,” he says, “where Continuum enables true mobility of experience and the phone can give you the full power of the PC.” Terry also specifically mentions “security and manageability,” which isn’t coincidental, as noted above.
Next up is Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf, who pushes the business focus of the x3, not to mention the power efficiency of his firm’s chipsets, which are making Intel look silly (again, see above), so much so that Intel just canceled its chips for phones.
Then we turn to HP president and CEO Dion Weisler, who puts on a brave face and notes that the convergence of “mobility and computing” will accelerate business productivity. “Work is less a place you go to and more a thing you do,” he says, reflecting current trends accurately. He also pushes past the notion of smart phones, which is smart given how poorly Windows phone meets the needs of the typical smart phone user. “It’s far grander than a mobile phone … this is the next generation of computing.” I think this is good positioning for Windows phones, in general: From a mobile perspective, Windows phones are just feature phones. But if you position them as tiny PCs that can also make phone calls, they make a bit more sense.
Weisler also reiterates that this solution is “specifically for business.” That’s HP’s (and Microsoft’s) bread and butter.
Finally, we see Michael Park, who oversees the development of the x3 and HP’s other business mobility products. The Elite x3 was “built grounds-up for the needs of business users,” he says, reiterating the key theme of the device. “This is not just a phone, it’s a next-gen computing device.”
HP’s vision for the Elite x3 is solid, even a bit exciting … or it would be, if it weren’t for that Windows 10 Mobile ankle-weight. It’s odd to me that none of these videos explain the challenges of running Win32 apps remotely on an ARM device, nor HP’s admittedly interesting ways of solving those problems. And that is the crux of the Elite x3 as a business solution, I think. No businesses care about the future of computing, they care about the present. And HP—and Microsoft—should focus on what these solutions can do to transform businessesnow. Assuming of course that they can do that. All I see are a handful of UWP apps.
I’m trying to be open-minded here, but I’m just not convinced. That said, I give HP credit for making the most of the hand they’ve been dealt. It’s not their fault that Windows phone has failed, or that Intel can’t figure out mobile. But they’re doing what they can, and the hardware and services really do looking amazing. Maybe someday they won’t be dragged down by their partners.