While everyone at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is watching the Nokia-Microsoft partnership kick off there is other news worth watching: HP’s WebOS strategy.
Ever since HP bought Palm Computing in April last year everyone has been waiting for HP to make a move with Palm’s WebOS. Now the company, the world’s largest hardware maker, has done just that, and it couldn’t come at a better time.
On the one hand Google’s Android is growing exponentially in popularity and Apple’s iOS continues its upward growth. On the other hand Nokia looks to be in the death throes as it partners with Microsoft to boost its flagging sales – and everyone is waiting for a third option. WebOS could just be it.
Last week HP announced not one but two new WebOS-based phones, successors to its Palm Pre devices.
The Pre 3 runs a 1.4GHz processor, includes a front-facing camera and packs a lot of power into a small package. The 3.6 inch display is relatively small by smartphone standards but HP seems intent on going after the market for small devices with good performance.
Also announced was the 800MHz Veer, a smaller phone with just a 2.6 inch touchscreen. The Veer sports only a rear-facing camera and while it doesn’t have SD expansion slots it does have a mini-USB port for external storage/connectivity.
Both of the new HP phones feature slide-out keyboards and a full set of onboard entertainment applications.
Neither device is likely to grab much attention away from the Android-Apple hype but for a growing portion of the market which is just getting into smartphones these two new phones are sure to be a hit.
HP has also announced a tablet PC based on its WebOS. The HP TouchPad runs on a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor and has a 9.7-inch multi-touch display.
The HP TouchPad is the first tablet PC running WebOS, a Linux-based OS for mobile devices. The initial release will be WiFi only but its successor will add 3G support.
The TouchPad includes a 1.3-megapixel camera on the front for video calling and includes either 16GB or 32GB of storage. However, like the WebOS phones, the TouchPad doesn’t include an SD expansion slot.
This foray into the world of tablet PCs and smartphones may not grab headlines as a new Apple iPad would but HP’s slow and steady progress might well pay off, particularly as the company has many advantages.
One of its advantages is that it has not just a phone and a tablet PC in the market now but also printers, PCs, laptops and screens. Connecting all of these together would give its WebOS some extra appeal.
Already it looks likely that HP is going down the all-connected route. The new phones and the HP TouchPad can already send one another links and the like with just a screen tap, and incoming calls and text messages can be routed to both devices if needed.
WebOS also has support for HP’s wireless printers which adds an another dimension to the capabilities of both the phones and tablet PC.
HP has been rather slow in turning its acquisition of Palm Computing into new products but it now looks like the hardware giant is ready to start its attack on the mobile space.
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