HP’s First WebOS-based Smartphones Slated for Early 2011 Release

by Jeff Wiener on October 7, 2010

To steal a clever paraphrasing of a famous Mark Twain quote, “The rumours of the death of WebOS have been greatly exaggerated.”

Over the course of the past year I have watched with interest the soap opera-like drama that surrounded the decline, demise, purchase, and rejuvenation of Palm, with most of my recent interest stemming from the question of whether or not Hewlett Packard (HP) will have more success creating and marketing webOS based smartphones than Palm ever did on its own.

Last month I was surprised to hear that HP had released a beta version of the newly upgraded webOS v 2.0 to select developers, a sure sign in my mind that HP had a line of webOS phones in the works. Turns out I was right, as a report issued by Reuters earlier this week indicates that HP webOS smartphones are slated for release in early 2011.

Already a giant in the computer, printer, server and tech services markets, it’ll be interesting to see what HP is able to pull off here. If it’s able to produce a capable business oriented smartphone that seamlessly integrates with its extensive tech and telecom portfolio, HP’s webOS devices may spell the end for fledgling mobile and tablet offerings from the likes of Cisco, Avaya, and Research in Motion (RIM)…but that’s a big ‘if.’

There’s no question that companies like HP, Dell, and Microsoft know computers, its where all three have found the majority of their corporate success. But truth be told, I have yet to see any tech company effectively transition from creating personal computers to creating competitive and innovative smartphones; with one very notable exception of course being Apple.

For me, success in the computer market does little to guarantee success in the mobile market, even as smartphones increasingly become portable handheld PCs. This means that while I’m sure HP has a lot of good ideas for how to market Palm’s webOS, I know I’m going to be taking a wait-and-see approach to any smartphone hype that starts rolling out of its marketing department.

But on the flip side, I’m relieved to see the revival of Palm’s innovative webOS operating system. While I have long speculated that HP would utilize one of Palm’s primary assets, HP had been relatively tight lipped about any of its future plans for Palm’s mobile brand, OS, or its portfolio of patents and technologies. So while the press release gives little detail about what any HP webOS devices will look like, it’s some relief to know that they’re on their way.

Further, it doesn’t take a fortune teller to see that the future of HP’s deployment of webOS will soon translate into the burgeoning tablet market as well, a move that will see HP as one of the only companies able to provide complete business communications packages from beginning to end, your one-stop tech and telecom solution.

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