HP's Melodeo Acquisition: Not a Consumer Play, Just Part of Its Mobile-Services Expansion

Last Updated Jun 25, 2010 7:00 AM EDT

After the purchase of Palm, HP (HPQ) seemed on track to continue its long focus on corporate markets. The announcement that HP would buy Melodeo, which makes mobile music delivery systems for wireless operators, doesn't change a thing. The company is still determined to become a player in mobile infrastructure.

It's easy to make the mistake -- I did on catching the first headline -- that HP wanted to deliver services to consumers. However, look at the Melodeo site and you see it partners with mobile sector companies, licensing its capabilities to them. It might seem like a departure for HP, but it's not when you look at the purchase of Palm to integrate the webOS operating system into devices of all kinds, including printers.

HP's strategy reminds me of the one IBM (IBM) plans for this space:

IBM's strategy is to let partners create the end user software and electronics. It just wants to make money from being in the middle of everything.
Given the recent acquisitions, I think HP wants the same thing. The strategic advantage goes to companies that find ways to provide infrastructure services that are both useful and outside what traditional players offer.

HP's strategy seems focused on creating a supra-infrastructure -- something that exists at the extremes of what is considered the normal mobile infrastructure. Look at it that way, and it makes sense:

  • devices of all sorts running the Palm mobile operating system, webOS
  • "smart" printers that can accept print jobs without the direction of an intervening computer
  • music (and, presumably, other e-media) distribution services for mobile
You can see the building blocks forming around conventional concepts of mobile communications and computing, delivering and enabling services that vendors can't provide themselves. Should further acquisitions and developments fall in line, then we'll see HP continue to build a shell around mobile, getting a solid entry into the space while largely dodging the slugfest in handsets and carrier services.


Shell, antenna images, RGBStock.com users hisks and dlritter, site standard license.
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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.