It's still sinking in that Hewlett-Packard (of all companies) acquired
Palm, and while the finalization has yet to occur, it's assumed that the paperwork will be only a formality. Once the companies came out about the news, the biggest question people had was about the future of WebOS, Palm's own mobile OS. WebOS was one of the first major mobile operating systems to support native multi-tasking (using a "cards" approach), and the Palm Pre was actually a fairly important phone for the company.
Some say the exclusive deal with Sprint really killed all hopes of the phone ever truly taking off, but that's all water under the bridge at this point. Now, on HP's first conference call regarding financials since the news of the acquisition broke, we learned a couple of important things regarding that very question. First, HP had thrown out a vague promise to "double down" on WebOS, but no one really knew or understood what exactly that meant. Speculation raged about a WebOS tablet, but that was about all it ever was: speculation.
Now, HP CEO Mark Hurd is making it easier on everyone to speculate even harder. During the time of the quarterly call, he Tweeted that consumers could "expect [HP] to leverage WebOS
beyond smart phones into form factors such as slated and web-connected printers." And that's straight from the big man's mouse. So these two points are certainly intriguing. First off, we're super excited to hear the HP
CEO confirm that a WebOS slate is in the plans. That HP Hurricane
that was rumored earlier in the month may indeed be what's on the drawing board, and something like that may provide real, needed competition for the iPad. Second, the printer announcement is odd. Not unexpected, given just how powerful HP is in the printer business, but strange still. You wouldn't ever think of putting Android or iPhone OS onto a printer, so shoe-horning a mobile OS like WebOS onto one just feels like squeezing a square into a round hole. But maybe, just maybe, it'll work. Connected printers have the possibility to really revive an older technology, and being able to always print remotely or from the Web itself could get people in the habit of printing once again.
So, the wait is officially on. When will the first WebOS tablet and WebOS printer hit the market? Hopefully prior to the 2010 holiday shopping season, if only because we're impatient.