Well, I’m sure HP and Palm have known each other pretty well for a while now, since the days of Pocket PCs and PDA devices early last decade (the 2000’s) and today they finally got together via HP’s acquisition for Palm. Alright, forget the financial stuff and hoo’s and haa’s to this pretty sudden and shocking piece of news – we’ve already got enough of that around the internet, what we’re gonna look at is what could potentially happen out of this, and how/what changes could be done…
Phone OS Strategy
Well, once they get off their butts and release a couple of new (hopefully, droolworthy) phones for the world, HP is likely to support and use two different mobile operating systems for their phones – Web OS (or whatever they call it if they decide to change the name) and Windows Phone 7 (because they’ve already been confirmed as one of the companies on the list at Microsoft’s various Windows Phone 7 launches, parties, events and conferences). Three would be possible – adding Android into the mix – but unlikely, at least for now, in my opinion. First off, if HP were to further develop Web OS as their “in-house” OS and re-establish their presence in the mobile device arena, they would need quite a bit of horsepower and work done in order to maintain what Palm created while pushing it forward and/or HP-izing Web OS. Remember, they not only need to run their own OS show now, but also the things that come along with it – such as the Palm’s app store. Next, they already will have their hands full (or filled up) because of Windows Phone 7 as well. A gut feeling tells me that HP will be one of the first, if not the first, manufacturer to launch a Windows Phone 7 device – due to their new-found motivation today (you should see the various statements on how they’re gonna get back into the phone/mobile device game) and also because of their close ties with the big M (Microsoft). Adding a third OS would not only cause problems for support, but also require HP to either channel in more funds or move people from the other 2 teams towards doing up an Android-based phone – and remember, we don’t want quantity, we want quality (anyone seen what HP’s been doing with their iPAQ phones over the last 3 years?!)
What goes where?
We’re likely to see HP bring out one or two Windows Phone 7 devices, which will also likely be their ‘flagship’ products, and release a couple of consumer-level phones running Web OS. For the latter plan, it’s either they will just release/rush out a new Web OS phone “as is and as made/developed by Palm” (I’m sure they’re bound to have something designed somewhere before today’s acquisition) which would tell everyone “hey, we really wanna do this!” or take their time, make everyone wait and wonder, and boom, suddenly release something new or completely new that’s based off Palm’s legacy.
Why not the reverse? Why not Windows Phone 7 devices for the masses/consumer-level and a Web OS phone as their flagship? Well, in time I’m sure that will happen, but not now I think. HP would probably want to HP-fy Web OS before doing that, which will probably take a while.
Spillover to Touchsmart, Slate and beyond
Assuming HP makes good use of Palm’s resources and existing know-how, we could jolly well see UI elements, or even the whole Web OS itself, moved and used on HP’s other products such as their Touchsmart line or in their tablets (Slate) line. When this would happen is unknown – HP could upscale the OS and use it as an option to run on their to-be-launched-soon HP Slate… but it’s also equally likely that they would want to make tweaks, launch it for their phones, check out market reaction and then only put it on other products.
New HP iPAQs… soon?!
HP hasn’t released any new additions to their iPAQ line for over a year and a half now… while I’m sure they are/should be brewing up something good by now, I wonder if they’re gonna release any new phones between now and Windows Phone 7’s release later this year, to you know, remind everyone “we still make phones!”