Google Wins as HP Loses

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Only the truly special get to be the life of a party they don't show up to. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) has this sort of I'm-too-cool-to-be-bothered cachet. Amid the 3-D TVs, set top boxes, touchscreens, and live TV receivers for your car (I'm not joking), Google's Android is already the talk of this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Motorola (NYSE: MOT  ) just announced an Android tablet in concert with AT&T (NYSE: T  ) at a press conference 100 feet from where I am now. Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) will discuss an Android smartphone for its 4G LTE network. And Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) last night offered its own limited version of an Android tablet/printer as an example of its innovative prowess.

Paging Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard ...
Called the PhotoSmart eStation, the $399 inkjet printer was actually introduced months ago. An embedded 7-inch tablet supports Android 2.1, but not the Android Market because it fails to meet some minimum specifications. This is what passes for innovation at HP these days? Color me comfortable in my October short call.

But it's actually worse than that. As unimpressive as the product was, the positioning was even worse. A spokesperson called it for upscale, early adopter families that wouldn't mind paying a little more. Really? Then why not make a fully functional tablet? Why not build it around Palm's WebOS, which HP paid billions to acquire? Make it a whole product, make it a laser printer, and price it for more than the cost of a netbook.

In a night that featured new 3-D TVs and new multi-point touchscreen technology from 3M (NYSE: MMM  ) that made the iPhone screen feel like a toy, HP lost an opportunity to position itself as the innovator we've all known it to be in years past.

And Google, by not showing up, let others demonstrate just how dependent they are on The Big G's Android OS. CES is a Google-y world; we're just living in it.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. What do you think of the CES news you've seen so far? Is Google becoming the king of the digital world? Use the comments box below to let us know what you think, and be sure to check back here daily as we report on other CES stories as they emerge.

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Interested in more info on the stocks mentioned in this story? Add Google, Motorola, Verizon, Hewlett-Packard, or 3M to your watchlist.

Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. 3M and Google are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy has Wall Street in the palm of its virtual hands.

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