HP to Release a webOS Mobile Computing Tablet in Q3?

Just weeks after Hewlett-Packard bought mobile device pioneer Palm in a $1.2 billion deal and put its own Windows 7 tablet on the shelf, a new rumor claims the company now has a similar product in the works running Palm's webOS, the operating system used in the Palm Pre/Pixi phones.

The story came from a rather unlikely source: the gadget section in the Los Angeles edition of The Examiner. The Examiner is a national Web chain with staffs of writers and freelancers around the country and focused on various news segments.

LA Examine gadgets editor Darly Deino wrote that "an insider at HP" told him of a tablet codenamed "Hurricane" running webOS and potentially on track for release in the third quarter of this year. Other than that, details were spare.

HP (NYSE: HPQ) officials did not return requests for comment.

The company has said all along it plans to take the webOS beyond the Pre but this would be an extremely fast turnaround, even for HP.

That's assuming that HP may use one of its previously announced designs as a basis for a new tablet. HP has announced an ARM-based Android netbook, which was shown at CES in January and introduced at the Mobile World Congress show in February.

But using either the Android netbook or its abandoned Windows 7 tablet as a basis for a new webOS-based tablet could still prove tight on timing. The Android netbook runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, an ARM derivative, while the scrapped Windows 7 tablet, known as the HP Slate, ran on an Intel Atom processor. The Palm Pre, meanwhile, runs an underclocked ARM Cortex A8 processor derivative, and even that would be hard to port in a short period, analyst Tim Bajarin argued.

"The Pre was written to a smartphone chip that doesn't translate well to a tablet metaphor. So what chip will they use to pull that off?" said Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies. "I don't think it's plausible, just based on that timeframe. I find it hard to believe they could do something that quick. We're fairly close to Palm and we never picked up [on a tablet design] once, not once. So that would be a big surprise."

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


Android, HP, Palm, webOS, mobile computing