Although HP is gearing up to produce a tablet based off Windows 7, Executive Vice President Todd Bradley has told CNBC that they will "exclusively use its webOS" software for their forthcoming line of new smartphones.
With HP's purchase of Palm in April of this year, many have speculated on just what HP plans to do with the former mobile giant. WebOS, found on the Palm Pre, made waves when it was introduced and was seen by many as a last hurrah by Palm before fading into potential obscurity. When the company was put up for sale, HP snapped up assets and IP and has yet to produce anything from their quick purchase.
Previously, HP has explained that it had planned on using webOS in a line of smart-printers and that they would potentially maintain their current mobile relationship with Microsoft. Instead, HP has Apple and Google in their sights and is aiming to also be a top-shelf competitor in the continuously developing smartphone market.
Hardware giants Dell and HP have typically utilized Microsoft's offerings on their previous line of mobile devices. With Dell hopping on the Googlewagon and HP insistent on not allowing webOS to fade into obscurity, Microsoft will rely on its Asian hardware partners (LG, et al) even more.
iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7, webOS and even RIM with OS6, are all fighting for dominance in an already crowded market. It remains to be seen whether Microsoft has any tricks left in those perpetually long sleeves to shove WP7 into the spotlight, rather than slipping into the second tier.
Also interesting, this announcement completely reverses HP's earlier stance on smartphones. From CEO Mark Hurd:
"We didn’t buy Palm to be in the smartphone business. And I tell people that, but it doesn’t seem to resonate well. We bought it for the IP. The WebOS is one of the two ground-up pieces of software that is built as a web operating environment…We have tens of millions of HP small form factor web-connected devices…Now imagine that being a web-connected environment where now you can get a common look and feel and a common set of services laid against that environment. That is a very value proposition."