The HP phone is designed to use the Windows 10 continuum feature, which allows users to plug the phone into a monitor to get a traditional desktop view.
Hewlett-Packard’s latest smartphone could compete with one of the most ubiquitous, and expensive, pieces of technology in the modern office: the personal computer.
The HP Elite x3, running Windows 10 Mobile, is capable of using Microsoft’s new continuum feature, which projects a traditional desktop view when plugged into a monitor. It can also be paired with a keyboard and mouse.
The Palo Alto, Calif., company is betting that for workers frequently on the move, a single device might be able to replace both a company-issued smartphone and PC.
“This is a new category (of device) we’re talking about,” said Andy Nuttall, HP’s director of mobility strategy. HP introduced the device Sunday ahead of this week’s Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain.
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HP’s phone isn’t the first to come with the powerful processor and USB-C port required for using the continuum feature. Microsoft’s own Lumia 950 smartphones support the technology, as do Vaio’s Phone Biz and Acer’s Liquid Jade Premio.
But HP, the second-largest global PC seller behind Lenovo, is a giant supplier of computers to big companies. That puts the company in good position to test whether there’s a demand for a smartphone that can replace a worker’s PC.
Crawford Del Prete, chief research officer with IDC, says this device isn’t likely to be a big seller on its own.
“I don’t think that’s where the expectations are if you’re HP or Microsoft,” said Del Prete. “This is about learning. Fairly small-scale deployments. I don’t think this is the kind of (device) that Coca-Cola is going to drop their commercial notebook strategy for.”
Likely target customers include retail-store managers or forklift drivers, who can spend long stretches away from a desk but also require heavy-duty computer use from time to time, Del Prete said.
HP is offering a dock as an optional component for sale alongside the smartphone. The dock charges the device and connects to a monitor.
It’s also selling a lean, laptop-like device the Elite x3 can wirelessly project to in desktop mode.
The company hasn’t announced a price for the smartphone or its add-ons, and expects it to be available this summer.
HP said it has also built HP Workspace, a software tool for the Elite x3. It’s designed to let companies run business applications written for the desktop version of Windows.
That feature, Del Prete said, is designed to help address the lack of some common applications available for Microsoft’s Windows smartphone, as developers have for years favored creating programs for better-selling Apple and Google mobile devices.