HP’s rumored slate that will run off of Palm’s WebOS is in fact coming in “early 2011″ according to remarks from Phil McKinney, HP’s vice president and chief technology officer for the company’s personal systems group. According to HP Developer Relations Exec Peter Helm, HP’s upcoming smartphones and tablets – – tipped off to be “similar to Apple’s iPad” – – will be running their now-owned Palm WebOS operating system. HP’s tablet has so far been rumored to be coming sometime in Q1 2010, while HP’s VP & CTO Phil McKinney said that the tablet could be releasing anytime in “early 2011.”
Helm’s comments are likely more to give developers a frame of reference for the experience of the tablets, but they show the company at least conscious of Apple’s effect on developers. HP has been conscious of Apple’s tablet plans since even before the iPad was unveiled as it had a prototype of the Windows 7 Slate ready as a preemptive gesture. Since then, it acquired Palm partly for tablets and just today launched a printer with an Android tablet as a hybrid control interface and media device.
Now that we are officially part of HP, we are going full speed ahead with our applications initiative. Our proprietary operating system, webOS, is now the OS that will be used in HP’s mobile devices. This includes mobile handsets as well as tablet-style devices similar to the iPad. We will accordingly leverage Palm’s ability to innovate and the scale of HP’s vast install base and distribution network previously unavailable to us,” he said, in a Palm Developer Community memo.
It has also talked about putting webOS into web-enabled printers, and some of those themes have coalesced in its new, and somewhat unexpected, launch of the Photosmart eStation printer, designed for the living room rather than the office, complete with detachable 7-inch tablet to act mainly as a browser and organizer.
HP originally announced it was working on a Windows 7 slate at the Consumer Electronics Show back in January, and Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer even demoed it on stage. Months went by without any additional news, and after the company announced it was acquiring Palm, it appeared as if the project had been put on the back burner. Then, in late July, the company was granted a trademark for the name “PalmPad” that brought the product back into the spotlight.
Besides computing devices, McKinney elaborated on the company’s plans to bring WebOS to printers in the near future. “Everybody asks ‘why printers?’ Well, we’ve got a new set of printers running little apps like printing out confirmations for your boarding pass,” he said. MicKinney says that eventually your printer will be able to do more advanced print jobs from within specially designed WebOS printer apps to print out things like coupons.