What's Behind HP's 'PalmPad' Trademark Application?
One of the recurring rumors surrounding the reasons behind Hewlett-Packard's $1.2 billion purchase of Palm was that it might make an iPad tablet competitor using the Palm webOS. That rumor just got a little more solid.
HP has filed an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for the term "PalmPad." The filing date was July 9 and the application is pending legal review. HP's description doesn't offer any indication of what it's for; HP (NYSE: HPQ) just gives a string of product terms, like "portable computers, handheld and mobile computers, PDAs, electronic notepads, mobile digital electronic devices."
HP said at the time of the acquisition in late April that it planned to migrate the webOS software used in the Palm Pre to other platforms. webOS is a slick, easy to use operating system based on Linux and it runs on the ARM processor, making it ideal for a tablet.
Almost immediately after HP bought Palm, it killed a Windows 7 tablet it had in development. This left Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) with egg on its face, as CEO Steve Ballmer had shown off the HP device at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year. HP also had an Android-based tablet in the works but killed that, too.
A few weeks later came an article in the Los Angeles edition of The Examiner that said HP had a webOS-based tablet in the works, something it inherited from Palm with the acquisition. The article claimed that the device would ship in the third quarter of this year, which technically is now.
HP declined to comment on the rumor then, and did not respond to a request for comment now.
webOS and an ARM processor would give HP a much more power-efficient OS and processor than a Windows/Intel combination and something it will need to compete with the iPad. Interestingly, the patent application was made by an HP office in Houston, Texas, not the Silicon Valley, where HP is headquartered and Palm also resides. HP's Houston campus was formerly the headquarters of Compaq (which HP bought years ago) where much of HP's PC product development takes place.