HP is planning to reveal an iPad rival next month which will run the mobile operating system called webOS, the primary asset HP gained when it merged with Palm last summer. At least, that's our take in listening to the statements made by HP exec Todd Bradley, an executive VP in the company's Personal Systems Group, who spoke about webOS's future in a recent CNBC interview.
But according to Bradley, tablets aren't all HP has in store for webOS. He spoke of the operating system coming to more devices, "everything from smartphones to tablets to PCs to potentially other large screen devices." PCs? TVs? What does HP have planned?
HP's webOS Plans
When asked how HP will differentiate itself from its competitors like the iPad, Bradley said "you and I will talk about that on the 9th," referring to the February press conference the company will soon hold in San Francisco where the focus will be on webOS.
The statement also practically confirms that the announcement will involve the unveiling of HP's new tablet computer.
And that won't be all, says Bradley. "We're totally focused on the tablet market... but the tablet is one piece of that ecosystem, one piece of that connected experience we're going to create," he said.
So how does the PC fit into HP's plans? Are we moving away from the PC?, the interviewer asked.
"I would say that we're not moving away from the PC," said Bradley. "I would say that our focus...is really connected devices - it's mobile, it's portable...how do we create that connected experience that allows you to safely, seamlessly access that content that is so important to you?"
He then explained how tablets are great for content consumption, and PCs are great for content creation, and that the tablet market was not cannibalizing the PC market - it was adjacent to it. It comes down to the purpose of what you need the product for: consumption or creation. "It's not a generational shift," Bradley said, responding to a question about the demographics of tablet users, "it's optimization of usage."
Last week, HP invited select press to attend "an exciting webOS announcement" scheduled for Feb. 9 in San Francisco. The tagline for the event - "Think Big. Think Small. Think Beyond." - makes even more sense in light of Bradley's comments about the mobile operating system's multi-platform future.
While it's expected that an iPad rival is top on the list as to what's being revealed next month, it's clear that HP has much more planned for webOS. Given Bradley's hints about "other devices," we're interested in learning how exactly HP has integrated webOS components into its PC line, for example. Will there be a webOS layer that can run on top of Windows? Will you have dual-booting machines? Will webOS power small screens embedded in a notebook's shell? Will there actually be desktop or notebook PCs running just webOS?
And what's this about webOS on other large screen devices? Larger than a PC? Well that means TV, of course. What's HP working on there? Its own Apple TV/Google TV rival?
Dropping broad hints about HP's iPad rival, a known entity at this point, almost throws us off course from the bigger news here. HP's most exciting reveal may be its webOS ecosystem plans, not the webOS tablet itself. This news is bound to shake up the industry - a Windows OEM pushing a new operating system throughout its product line, from tablets to PCs and more, instead of just building a tablet alone? Very interesting.
You can watch the video for yourself here: