Back in the pre-smartphone days of PDAs it spent a large amount of coin developing its Jornada line of handhelds, before deciding that they weren't up to the job and abandoned its customer base (with obsolete and unsupported devices) by buying Compaq and switching allegiance to its high flying iPaq line.
Within a few years HP had taken that premium brand and driven it into the ground, releasing less and less attractive devices with no market appeal and finally killing the line of handhelds altogether in 2009.
Not satisfied with having killed two product lines HP did it again, this time buying out ailing Palm in 2010, delivering a handful of meagre upgrades and then within days of launching its all new product line announced it was getting out of the hardware business and shutting the whole shooting match down.
Now the company's lining up for another attack at the market. In fact a senior executive claimed that being late into the market would be a virtue for the company. Well I suppose it can't be any worse than the strategies its already failed to deliver on.
So what OS would a new HP smartphone run? WebOS? After all HP did spend more than a billion dollars to acquire it. Probably not, as the OS has been open sourced and its technical resource spun off as Gram. Android? With the strength of Samsung, a resurgent Sony, lively HTC and the Chinese competing strongly, that doesn't seem a sensible path. There's always Windows Phone, although Nokia's strength there and low overall market penetration make that a less than likely choice,
No I'm pretty sure HP are hoping to revert back to their iPod deal with Apple from the mid-2000s and sell a version of the iPhone with HP branding - iPhone+HP perhaps. More of a sponsorship deal than a manufacturing deal. HP pays Apple a bounty for every iPhone shipped with a HP badge on the back. At the current rate of iPhone sales it'll take HP about the same amount of time to burn through its billion dollars as it did with Palm, only this time without all those messy acquisition and separation costs.
You heard it here first folks!