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HP Mobility Unit To Make Consumer Tablets Under Ex-Nokia Exec

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No WebOS role confirmed, and Alberto Torres’ last job was running Meego

Hewlett-Packard (HP) has hired former Nokia executive Alberto Torres to head a new HP Mobility Global Business Unit, which is to focus initially on consumer tablets, according to an internal HP memo leaked via technology website The Verge on Friday.

The announcement comes a year after HP axed its webOS-based TouchPad, under then-chief executive Leo Apotheker.

webOS spin-off

Two weeks ago HP announced to employees a quasi-independent subsidiary called Gram created to exploit webOS, according to a report from webOS-oriented news website webOS Nation, which cited internal sources at HP. Gram will not itself produce hardware, however, according to the report. HP acquired webOS when it bought Palm for $1.2bn (£760m) in 2010.

The new HP Mobility unit, by contrast, will produce “mobility solutions” beginning with consumer tablets and expanding to include unspecified “additional segments and categories”, according to the HP memo. HP has not yet specified what operating system or systems these products might use.

Aside from hardware, HP said the unit’s activities will include research and development and applications and services.

The new unit will be exclusively focused on the consumer market segment – the company said its existing laptops and a planned business-oriented tablet will remain with its PC business unit for the time being. In July HP indicated it was planning a Windows 8 tablet running on x86 hardware, and other leaks have indicated possible specifications for a Windows 8 tablet.

MeeGo experience

Opinion: HP beats its head against consumers again

Torres most recently oversaw Nokia’s MeeGo operations as executive vice president at that company, and will become HP’s senior vice president of mobility, reporting to Todd Bradley, who runs HP’s Printing and Personal Systems Group.

Nokia last year dropped its products based on the MeeGo operating system in favour of Windows devices, but a startup was formed by ex-Nokia engineers earlier this year to continue developing MeeGo.

Torres’ initial focus will be to “accelerate” HP’s tablet strategy and to focus the company’s consumer and small-business efforts, according to the memo. He will reportedly join the company beginning on 3 September.

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