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HP Has a webOS Tablet, You Just Can’t Buy It

It wasn’t definite about pricing saying merely that it would be competitive with the iPad

HP unveiled its expected Palm webOS 2.1-based tablet Wednesday but won't be able to deliver the very Apple-y 9.7-inch "TouchPad" until summer sometime, putting HP and its ambitions that much behind the master, which should be delivering the iPad 2 by April, and behind the throngs that by then should be hawking Android 3.0 gismos, not to mention the RIM Playbook.

HP wasn't definite about pricing saying merely that it would be competitive with the iPad, which starts at $499.

The TouchPad can do some cute tricks like syncing content with one of HP's new webOS smartphones - which also aren't available - just by touching, or answer a test message on the phone, but consumers are unlikely to buy it for those features. (Obviously HP is hoping to sell bundles.)

The tablet multitasks though. That's a reason. And it has fancy Beats sound and gesture-based interaction.

The 1.5lb widget offers a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon chip, the Apple-loathed Adobe Flash, 16GB or 32GB of memory and supports video conferencing.

It'll only have Wi-Fi to start, graduating to 3G and 4G later. Whose 3G is unclear.

Amazon's got a free Kindle e-reader app for the thing and Time Inc will sell subscriptions to Time, Sports Illustrated and People.

It still needs to develop an application ecosystem. It reportedly has a few thousand apps in the can. Apple and Google are tens or hundreds of thousands of apps ahead.

HP means to put webOS on its printers.

It also means to put it on its laptop and netbooks later this year evidently as a customized UI that complements Windows but was hazy about its exact plans.

Whether that enlarged universe buys it developers remains to be seen. Goldman Sachs wonders if PC users would care.

HP said it was announcing early in a bid for developer attention. It has also hired the CTO of Lucasfilm Richard Kerris as VP, worldwide developer relations, the kind of job he used to do at Apple.

There are two new webOS phones, the Pre3 for business, due this summer, and credit card-sized one called Veer, due this spring.

HP paid $1.2 billion for Palm last year. It needs to get its money's worth.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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