Move is a surprising one, given HP's relative disinterest in mobile

Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ) has been struggling mightily over the last couple years with stock plunging from an early 2010 high of ~$52.50 USD/share to a late 2012 value of ~$12.50 USD/share.  Since that time, HP shares have more than doubled amid a general stock market surge and the steady leadership of new CEO Meg Whitman.  However, one central problem for HP remains -- the company lacks any cohesive strategy for mobility, even as the market shifts away from the traditional personal computer.  

HP has at times appeared defiant, insisting that it does not need mobile to survive.  In that light the news that HP has added Ray Ozzie -- former chief software architect of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) -- to its board may seem a surprising one.  Just last year HP had been countering claims by Mr. Ozzie that the market was entering a "post PC" era.  Now they appear to be tapping his insight.

However the move follows recent direction changes at the personal computer giant, as HP has begun to soften on its abandonment of the mobile space.  After dumping webOS in Aug. 2011, HP for a long time largely overlooked the tablet and smartphone sector.  But earlier this year reports began to trickle out indicating that it was preparing a new device campaign, leveraging Google Inc.'s (GOOG) popular mobile operating system Android.

Ray Ozzie at Microsoft
Ray Ozzie [Image Source: Software Development Times]
The first result of that new look was the Slate 7-inch Android tablet, which debuted at $170 USD in Feb. 2013.  Despite that attractive price point, the tablet's much lower spec than the Nexus 7 ($199) ASUSTek Computer, Inc. (TPE:2357) has made it a slower seller than HP hoped.  The tablet is #857 in, Inc.'s (AMZN) computer device rankings, following a price cut to $144 USD.

HP is also rumored to be preparing an Android smartphone offering.

In his new post, Mr. Ozzie will join the board's technology committee and the finance and investment committee.  Under those roles he's expected to guide HP in acquisitions and R&D to make the company more mobile.

The company also added a couple of other prominent names -- Robert Bennett, former CEO of Liberty Media Corp. (LMCA), and James Skinner, currently the chairman of Walgreen Comp. (WAG) and former CEO of McDonald's Corp. (MCD) -- to its board, as well.

Source: HP

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