HP/Palm has said it is preparing a tablet device running webOS, but it has been coy about when said device might debut. BMO Capital Markets believes it will arrive in March.
The idea of a webOS tablet has been floating around for a while now. Todd Bradley, the head of HP's Personal Systems Group, announced on August 20, "You'll see us with a Microsoft product in the near future, and a WebOS-based product in early 2011."
It wasn't long before HP launched the Slate 500, which runs Windows and is targeted at the enterprise. Since then, Palm hasn't said much else about webOS's future on tablets.
Keith Bachman, with BMO Capital Markets, suggests that the device will launch in March, which just barely qualifies it as debuting in "early 2011." Bachman's sources were component suppliers from Asia. He said, "Everyone we met with [on the Asia trip] is planning to build tablets… It will be a very crowded market in 2011."
Bachman is not bullish on Palm's chances of success with a webOS tablet. He said the device will have a niche market, but won't be a smash hit like the iPad. BMO forecasts that half of the 40 million tablets sold in 2011 will be Apple's iPad, and the remaining half will go to the rest of the market.
Other analysts concur with Bachman's predicted launch date, including Stifel Nicolaus analyst Doug Reid. By the time March rolls around, it will be 11 months since HP and Palm announced the acquisition and 8 months after the acquisition closed.
webOS is Palm's smartphone operating system. I like the user interface a lot, and think that it might scale well to the tablet form factor. A lot of variables, however, will play a role in determining whether or not such a product will be a success in the market.
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