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back to article HP boss Whitman: 'We have to offer a smartphone'

Hewlett Packard may have crashed and burned when it last tried to crack the mobile device market, but it isn't ready to give up yet. According to CEO Meg Whitman, a new smartphone from HP is not a matter of "if", but "when". Describing HP's bungled acquisition of Palm as "a detour into smartphones," Whitman told Fox Business …

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Bronze badge

HP was quietly selling the iPaq

for quite some time

http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport/TechSupport/SupportTaskIndex.jsp?lang=en&cc=us&taskId=110&prodTypeId=215348&prodSeriesId=3544499

Though I don't remember anyone mentioning the iPaq name since the early 00s.

If HP brought the brand back i wonder if apple would try to sue.. (wouldn't put it past them even if HP does own trademarks over the name).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: HP was quietly selling the iPaq

I would love HP to bring back the iPaq!

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MrT
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I still have...

...a 5550 with additional battery. There's what is clearly a SIM port built into it, covered by a nice shiny warranty void sticker, plus an unused third LED on the front panel which points to much earlier plans for some sort of phone capability on a touchscreen handset. They worked quite well using the MS Communicator software over Wi-Fi but it seems the idea of roaming about on mobile networks fell at literally the last hurdle. Rumours of a firmware to enable the SIM socket all led to dead ends at the time so I never got mine modded to that point before the whole smartphone thing took off. As soon as I started using the old T-Mo Vario line there was no need... but I still kept the old iPaq because it was a good device.

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Happy

Re: I still have...

I still have an hp hw6515c iPaq Messenger with Win Mobile 2003 SE, runnning fine and occaissionally in use as a phone and navigation device (it came with TomTom, a stroke of genius on hp's part as most people I know that bought them did it for the TomTom bundled with it). It had a digital camera, touchscreen, memory expansion slot, power and docked over a USB cable (with a proprietary connector), GPS, and had the Pocket Office versions of Word, Excel, Outlook, and a removeable battery, all long before Apple came up with the "innovative" iPhone. It worked either as a phone or as a smartphone or pocket PC. It even had rounded corners! True, it did only have GPRS rather than 3G, but the later iPhone 1 didn't have 3G either. I bought it for use as a personal phone and still used it even with a work Blackberry, but most people I know that had one got them through work as hp was geared up to sell via the channel, not consumer stores. Maybe this time hp will get the sales model right.

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Facepalm

Stupid

The whole webOS debacle was the height of stupidity on HP's part.

1. Price a tablet at $499, same as more established iPad. Watch as sales don't happen.

2. Discount it to $199, so that demand far outstrips the supply.

3. Lose over a billion dollars because of steps 1 & 2 and use that as a reason to discontinue the platform.

4. Dump the platform.

5. Announce you're planning to re-enter mobile phone market at some point in the future.

Is there some special moron CEO private school you have to attend to become an HP chairman?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Stupid

It would help if they employed someone who cared about phones and technology. Meg Whitman is your typical business school graduate much like Ballmer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is there some special moron CEO private school you have to attend

Scrapping a load of product and getting out of the market was stupid, trying to rectify the situation isn't.

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Facepalm

Re: Is there some special moron CEO private school you have to attend

Except they're not rectifying anything. Bandwagon's full. HP should catch another.

When TouchPad was released, it was the third player on the market and given the quality of Android tablets at that point, the most viable alternative to iPad. If HP got the pricing right from the beginning or at the very least took one on the chin with initial losses, pumping out cheap TouchPads to increase user base, they would've been #2 right now and #1 in corporate applications (if they offered the right management software). That would've given them a great springboard into phones as well.

Now it's too late. Period. They have nothing to offer to compete with Android, iOS, WinPho 8, Amazon, and RIM (ok, that one I didn't write with a straight face). All niche's been filled or are about to. This is doomed to failure. Jumping off the departing train was stupid. Running on the tracks after it is doubly so.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Stupid

I'm not sure if a company, being a conglomerate of persons (and beancounters), can be officially diagnosed with a mental illness, but it that's possible, it's obvious that HP is schizoid, bipolar or at least has suicidal tendencies.

There's no other way to explain this behavior: "we're going to enter into that market... no, it's not our thing... yes, we can do it... no, we're ditching that division... yes... no... yes"

I'd wish the company good luck with this idea, as more competitors is always a good thing for the market, but what's the point? when the first hardware fails to meet the expected sales, it will be killed off again, with extreme prejudice.

Anon because... I'm part of that schizophrenia

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Re: Stupid

Interesting metaphor. Truly unfortunate too. HP used to be great primarily due to the strong research base, but also because of great products. I fondly remember my TC1000 transformer tablet. It was great and ahead of its time. Unfortunately, like with many of its promising products, HP killed the form factor. 3-4 years later it became popular.

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Windows

Re: Stupid

"Is there some special moron CEO private school you have to attend to become an HP chairman?"

Yeah must be. Dunno where, but Elop was his classmate. Taught by Professor Basil Fawlty, perchance?

What's this BS about being a 'computing company?'. They were the best instrumentation company on the planet for decades, until one of the rudder cables snapped, and drove them onto the Agilent rocks.

Grief, I remember using an HP 141T spectrum analyser. Great machine.

Maybe that's what happens when a company sets its sights above its capabilities.....

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FAIL

Re: Stupid

"Is there some special moron CEO private school you have to attend to become an HP chairman?"

Yeah it's called Corporation USA - starring Ebay - Whitman's former celestial crash and burn of gross greed, stupidity and incompetence.

http://www.alternet.org/story/148629/how_meg_whitman_failed_her_way_to_the_top_at_ebay,_collecting_billions_while_nearly_destroying_the_company

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Paris Hilton

Re: Stupid

I will reiterate my prior-posted beliefs as: if HP *does* jump back into the smart-phone market, build it on WebOS and manufacture with QUALITY rather than that Fisher-Price bullshit it continued from Palm (with apologies to Fisher-Price) and I believe it will do well.

Otherwise HP will be producing YAWP or YAAP (Yet Another Windows/Android Phone) and be completely unable to distinguish itself from the rest of the field. Well, other than quality. Though not knowing what the Pre app catalog was like in the hey-day of WebOS, the thought strikes me that if HP can graft a bunch of WebOS-like features on top of Android it may have something there, particularly with the apps available for Android.

Yeah, I know, I'm starting to sound like a WebOS fan-boy. I went from a Sony-Ericsson whore (really loved Java Platform with all its short-comings, mainly SE-related) and need a new home.

Paris, like me, whore to homeless.

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Joke

Re: Stupid

"Taught by Professor Basil Fawlty"

I refuse to sit idly by while you ruthlessly attack the great Basil Fawlty. In my not-so-humble opinion his greatest mistakes were caused by not listening to his lovely wife.

Take it back this instant, sir.

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@Andus McCoatover

Actually that's Agilent now... and some of that business have been out sourced to yet another company Symetricon.

That's a classical business strategy, Siemens also did it. For example they outsourced their integrated circuit business to a company called "Infineon" because it is cyclic. Then Infineon outsourced their memory business, which is even more cyclic, to another company "Quimonda"... which then went bust.

That's a classical piece of textbook stupidity. Millions of business students have been indoctrinated that companies should focus on their core business and get rid of unprofitable side businesses. The consequence of that ideology is of course, that companies will not have the endurance to keep going through a recession in one area.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Stupid

Well, their roots are long gone. They've slipped into the market of largely producing boring business equipment, stuff that nobody gets excited about.

What really goes wrong is the post-acquisition strategy. They buy Palm and then try to fit Palm into their own eco-system. Except that HP isn't really famous for software, it has some other products it has acquired but unless you are a customer of those offerings you probably wouldn't even know they made any software.

So all of a sudden you have an OS to build as well as hardware. Both are costing a lot and neither is selling as many units as even your dullest printer.You can see the dilemma.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Stupid

That's always been the problem when employing women just to look modern instead of employing people on merit.

It's probably why the UK government has failed to do a good job in recent times, thanks to positive discrimination.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC 14:33 - you said that out loud, whoops

I doubt very much that HP's board appointed Whitman because she is a woman - there are other explanations for such a poor choice, I'm sure. But I wouldn't want to get between you and your hating.

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Facepalm

Re: Stupid

You missed a step:

1a. Announce that the tablet you released 4 days before (in Aus, 5 weeks before in USA) wouldn't be supported, and the O/S/ would be discontinued.

Which makes :

2. Discount it to US$ 99 as nobody was buying the (unsupported) stock.

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Silver badge

Re: Stupid

A Windows 8 tablet might work in the corporate market, because Android hasn't really established itself as the alternative to Apple yet, and having the same os as the desktop could have its attractions, but in the phone market, it is going to be very difficult to get application developers to support three or four platforms. In both the phone and tablet markets, there just isn't room for another single-vendor OS.

For the phone. market, HP should probably concentrate on the mobile worker market, handheld machines with barcode readers and optionally small thermal printers for people who need to collect data on the move -warehouse / stock control, delivery drivers, service engineers; that sort of thing. They have traditionally used Windows Mobile. Windows Phone doesn't really work for that model, but either Android or WebOS would, as the device will have one App which is custom developed for that business or sold off the shelf as part of a much bigger package.

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Paris Hilton

Re: @AC 14:33 - you said that out loud, whoops

"there are other explanations for such a poor choice"

Name one.

The fact is that even before the Carly fiasco, HP had been at the vanguard of political correct posturing for years.

It's all over their glossys and their website, you only have to look a little bit to find it.

Everywhere you look you are reminded about their equal opportunity and eco credentials.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC 14:33 - you said that out loud, whoops

Ok, how about a crashing lack of judgement coupled with a knee-jerk decision to get rid of an inept loose cannon with not much in the way of a strategy except "software, software, software, slash and burn the rest" and replace him with a new technology media darling with an MBA and little to do? The fact that said darling is female /could/ be a coincidence.

Not sure if you're the OP but the kind of broad brush generalisation found in the post - i.e. women exist and some of them are incompetent and there are positive discrimination policies and they don't work therefore any woman appointed anywhere is incompetent and has been positively discriminated - is irrational, crass and misogynistic.

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Re: you only have to look a little bit to find it

Like evidence of the illuminati in contemporary pop videos, easy to find, doesn't make it true...

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Thumb Down

Re: Stupid

@AC

You picked a poor example to use to push your political correctness theory. HP's leadership has been inept for over a decade regardless of gender. Both Hurd and Apotheker were terrible. While Hurd is widely considered to be an effective CEO, it's a paper-thin veneer. He simply cut enough jobs to make HP profitable - a strategy that carries with it certain long-term consequences. Like inability to write the fucking printer drivers properly.

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"There will be countries in the world where people will never own a tablet or a PC or a desktop. They will do everything on a smartphone."

w.t.f

can't tell if this is just stupid or slightly racist

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It's real

There are plenty of Africans who have to run businesses off mobile phones in places without landlines or reliable mains electricity.

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Re: It's real

...and many of these folk don't even have their own phone, but do have their own SIM. For farmers, being able to check market rates has really given them a bargaining tool to use against traders.

Nokia have traditionally dominated the market for phones in the developing world... does a strange market for HP to want to get into.

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Re: It's real

But I expect HP don't want to sell a phone for Africa (a phone that will run for a week on a charge, is not too expensive, email and banking is about as fancy as they need). What HP will want to sell is a $600 fashion phone, they drool over Apple's stock price.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's real

There are plenty of Africans who have to run businesses off mobile phones in places without landlines or reliable mains electricity.

Indeed. When I was in Africa a colleague had a ghetto blaster for sale and the first question everyone asked was "How many batteries does it take?"

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Anonymous Coward

Actually it's you who's being slightly stupid if you think this is something new or incredulous. Even in developed nations there has been a shift in recent years from performing activities that used to be done on a computer on a smartphone instead. Developing countries have a history of leapfrogging technology, missing out an initial, expensive generation and skipping straight to a cheaper, more advanced one. The most obvious example being the massive amount of sub-Saharan Africans that never had landline telephones or Internet but jumped straight to cellular (and satellite) instead.

It's a bit short-sighted of some as well to assume this isn't the market HP should be looking at, and instead concentrating on the high end. The high end is already pretty well sewn up and is going to be a diminishing sector as Moore's law catches up with most people's requirements (as happened with PC's already, I remember when I bought a "budget" laptop for £1400, now you get £300 ones that do everything most people want with no difficulty). We've just reached the stage where there are sub-£100 devices going around that are smoothly running ICS (and JellyBean unofficially), which is ultimately the future for the vast majority.

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Anonymous Coward

incredulous

It does not mean what you think it means

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Facepalm

...and when they finally get to walk the fine line between lumbering behemoth and fast-reaction mobile player, it will all be far too late ...

Another Kodak-Eastman moment staggering toward a 'too big to fail' global-Corporation near you

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Anonymous Coward

Another Kodak-Eastman moment

I totally agree. All I can hope for is that they don't crash and burn to a cinder like some bit of space junk re-entering the atmosphere until at least next August. I'll get my pension then and I'd like it to be worth more that the load of old tosh that Meg is currently spouting to all who will listen to her.

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Anonymous Coward

Entering a market dominated by one player?

Whitman is right about HP needing to go mobile, but I think the door is closed on the option.

Only the very brave or the very crazy enter a mature market with tight margins and dominated by one player.

Perhaps they plan to buy Apple?

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you watch...

...HP will sign a deal with Microsoft for Windows 8 Phone. It totally follows their behavior of hitching their wagon to a falling star. (Or in this case, a major extinction event.)

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Alien

Re: you watch...

While that is what I expected also, leaked benchmark app data suggest a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor running Android 4.0 and named "Bender". http://androidcommunity.com/hp-bender-android-smartphone-leaks-in-benchmarks-20120914/

That didn't take long.

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MrT
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Will it be...

...fueled by alcohol? And while they're at it, replace the awful synth-voice with something that has a healthy disdain for meatbags...

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2007 called

It wants its brain back.

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FAIL

Drugs are bad

Is she on drugs?

>"My view is we have to ultimately offer a smartphone, because in many countries of the world, that is your first computing device," Whitman said. "There will be countries in the world where people will never own a tablet or a PC or a desktop. They will do everything on a smartphone."

This is the same woman that bought Skype so that Ebay buyers and sellers could talk to each other!!! For what? The whole point of ecommerce is that you didn't need or want to talk to a shop keeper.

But take her comments - would someone like to tell her that the world is full of PCs and some are pretty cheap - cheaper than smartphones - and what about all the s/h PCs across the planet??? And what's a smart phone - £300+?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Drugs are bad

Whitman is an incompetent moron, but her comments on smartphones is common knowledge. A G300 costs £80 and does 90%+ of the same things that a £400 Samsung or HTC will do (only thing I can think of where it would struggle is 3D gaming). Unless there's some unforeseen developments on the software side of things that necessitates big leaps in hardware requirements (which I can't see happening) then hardware progress is going to outpace user requirements and result in "good-enough" £40 smartphones a few years from now.

It's not just price that's a factor either; a smartphone is smaller, more portable, uses less electricity (to the point where it could be charged from a small solar panel or hand-wound generator), lasts much longer on a single charge, generally more rugged, etc. All important factors for people in developing nations.

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Anonymous Coward

hp need to have their heads examined.

Or rather, the way where they select them. This latest... curiosity is one in a long string, and it isn't limited to "mobile". I'm not sure it started with Carly, but that certainly was a low point, and it's still hurting them.

About the only thing they do well is printers. Or rather, did. Now-a-days the toners are too small and the artificial crippling too blatant and the drivers are a giant-as-in-size pile of crap and all that extra "helpful" software bent solely on pushing you to buy their supplies and argh just give me an old printer already. I'm still happy with the boring old one that does postscript and has an unchipped toner but I dread the day I'll have to replace it. So I'm a bit lost as to what they bring to the party except for inertia and sweeping antics that end up looking like throwing toys out of the pram, literally.

Just what is it that makes hp tick? Perhaps something for Andrew to dive in and do a nice little series about?

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Silver badge

Whats the betting....

They buy Nokia ?

And then decide to invent their own OS.......

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Silver badge

Re: Whats the betting....

"They buy Nokia ?"

Yes, but they'd stick with WP8, because the common factor for HP, MS and Nokia is "enter the smartphone market, don't quite achieve what you want, shit on your customers on the way out".

Maybe three losers make one winner?

Trouble is, does the world need another "me too" smartphone from yet another a company that doesn't have a plan, other than "Wooohoo! Look at the growth in that sector!".

Having bought and shat on Autonomy, HP continue their Shitas touch. So I'm expecting their smartphone to to be brown, glossy, and possessing remarkably smooth contours, with a neatly crimped end.

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P_0

Meg Whitman's Plan To Rebuild HP:

Phase 1:

Make cheap smartphone.

Phase 2:

Sell it at low price with razor thin margins to third world countries.

Phase 3:

???

Phase 4:

Profits

Another graduate of Leo Apotheker's School Of Magic Bean Economics

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Just for one time in your life, be pragmatic and realist

Deal with google, a full deal, nothing like phone makers and ship webOS devices with full, certified, guaranteed Android compatibility along with google apps with added enterprise layer from Hp.

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Anonymous Coward

Mobile ...... PRINTERS!! Yeah

Dear Meg, forget the phone, unless you plan to make a mobile phone which uses TTL chips so people can solder on them, don't laugh, I bet tech's would eat it up! Maybe a HP-KIT phone?? Ya know like heathkit, but with a new catchy name?

Most of your business lay in printers, perhaps head over to Staples (since they don't carry DVD burners) I hear they have a few empty rows for more printers to be displayed. Most of the HP people I've ran into were ex CIA, heavy drug users, trying to get into printer servicing scam biz. An alternative is to figure out how they print money and make Benjamin Burnbankie a deal.

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Facepalm

Would I buy another phone from HP?

Hmmm. I bought a Pre2 just two months before HP junked it all. Whilst it was a great phone and the OS makes iOS/Android look a bit retarded it was a tad annoying being just dumped.

Well sh*the happens in tech and you move on. But all I can say is that in order for me and many others to think about buying another HP phone it would have to come bundled with a free car or a sexy maid.

I just cannot see it happening.

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Linux

If Only..

they would buy Nokia, ditch WP8, and resurrect Maemo.

I can dream.. :P

IMO if the Ballmer Boys hadn't come in and drowned it at birth in attempt to perpetuate their own pile of crud, Maemo would've saved Nokia as a company.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If Only..

There's quite a lot of people interested in the Nokia Lumia 920 and I'm happy with my Lumia 800.

If you want Maemo then try a Tizen phone:

http://www.phonearena.com/news/Samsungs-TIZEN-phone-might-be-the-one-using-Super-AMOLED-HD-Plus-screen-with-RGB-matrix_id30058

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Re: If Only..

The only thing that stood between Nokia and another decade or two of success was a business school and an undeserved executive qualification. They held the future in their hands and then went to lunch.

The UN identified a decade or so ago the move to portable personal computing devices, either because of a lack of demand or infrastructure for PC's (Africa) or a lack of space or privacy in the house (Asia). HP claim to be a computing company, there is a market niche not being met by the consumer smart phone solutions currently on offer - a niche last served by WinMob6. Give us a computer that is also a phone. No need to root, sensible fully featured operating system (I vote for Debian/Qt) none of that MS rubbish, no hidden hardware api's, no spyware, no closed crap markets, decent high res screen, decent HID support, maybe a keyboard, something that when I buy it it is mine. Get it right and I may suspend judgement on the shoddy build quality of value engineered American products and buy one.

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