HP planning a new Android tablet? Good luck with that

Having burned through two prior mobile platforms, HP(s hpq) is said to be looking at a third and will use Google Android(s goog) for an upcoming tablet and possibly a future phone. Taylor Wimberly of ReadWrite reported the development with information from two sources familiar with the matter. The new Android tablet could be announced from HP within a few weeks; potentially at this month’s Mobile World Congress Event in Barcelona.

touchpad-1Wimberly’s sources indicate an HP tablet has been in the works since Thanksgiving and is likely to run on Nvidia’s(s nvda) Tegra 4 chip. Nvidia officially announced Tegra 4 at last month’s Consumer Electronics Show but had no mobile partners on stage to announce new products or designs with the chip. Instead, Nvidia showed off its own hardware, a handheld gaming console called Project Shield.

I’m not too skeptical of HP actually re-entering the tablet market. After all, the PC business is giving way to fast-growing sales of tablets and smartphones. Plus, HP was already in the tablet market once before: It bought Palm and its webOS platform for $1.2 billion in 2010 and built the HP TouchPad tablet around webOS. Unfortunately, the device was a sales flop and HP quickly killed the tablet as well as its whole investment in Palm and ended up giving much of the platform to the open source community.

HP’s mobile history goes back even further, however. More than a decade ago, I carried an HP iPaq handheld running on Microsoft’s(s msft) Windows Mobile software. HP eventually got out of that market too, prior to smartphone adoption really taking off. So it makes sense to me that HP could be making another mobile play here, even though HP CEO Meg Whitman has gone on record to say no new smartphones will be coming from HP this year.

galaxy-tab-7-plusI’m more skeptical that HP can be successful in this market. The problem as I see it is that HP has no other choice but to use Android at this point. And assuming it does, it’s now competing against Samsung, the top seller of smartphones and the only company that’s figured out how to make a profit by using Android. Then there’s Amazon(s amzn), which uses Android for its Kindle Fire line of tablets. It makes money by selling content to the devices; something that HP doesn’t have to offer.

For HP to be successful in the already established Android market it needs to offer something significantly different and innovative. Those aren’t qualities that I equate with HP these days, but perhaps as they say, “third time’s a charm.”

This story was corrected at 1:47pm with the correct source site of ReadWrite.