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Category: Palm

HP reportedly talking with other manufacturers to make HP WebOS devices

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Hewlett-Packard Co. wants its HP WebOS platform to be the next big smartphone and tablet operating system to rival Google's Android and Apple's iOS systems. And HP could end up licensing the software out to other hardware makers such as Samsung to try and make that happen.

"We are talking to a number of companies," HP's CEO, Leo Apotheker, told Bloomberg in a recent interview in Beijing.

One of the companies that HP has been in talks with about taking on WebOS is Samsung, Bloomberg reported, citing unnamed sources.

Samsung currently makes phones and the Galaxy Tab line of tablets that run on Google's Android operating system, as well as laptops running Google's stripped-down ChromeOS.

Getting other consumer electronics makers on board with WebOS could help HP's chances of succeeding with the operating system it bought when it paid $1.2 billion in 2010 to take over the financially struggling Palm.

Palm now runs as a division of HP, working on WebOS products. But Apotheker and other HP execs didn't think enough of the brand they bought to keep Palm's name and logos around when designing its line of HP-built WebOS devices.

Apotheker was vague about HP's plans and didn't offer much detail on whom the company was talking to or what types of devices it is looking to get WebOS running on from outside manufacturers.

But Apotheker and HP have said in the past that the plan is to sell PCs with WebOS running alongside Microsoft's Windows, as well as its line of WebOS phones and tablets -- such as the Pre smartphones and the HP TouchPad, which debuts in stores Friday.

"I can share with you that a number of companies have expressed interest," Apotheker told Bloomberg. "We are continuing our conversations."

Apotheker refused to disclose any timeframes on getting WebOS on non-HP hardware, telling Bloomberg that "there is no time pressure to do this."

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Photo: Leo Apotheker, Hewlett-Packard's CEO, attends a media event Wednesday in Beijing. Credit: Keith Bedford/Bloomberg

Apple's iPhone passes RIM's BlackBerry for second place in U.S. smartphone market

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Research in Motion's BlackBerry line fell to the third spot in the U.S. smartphone market in April as Apple's iPhone moved into the No. 2 position behind Google's Android phones, according to a new report.

BlackBerry phones have been the second-most-popular smartphone platform in the U.S. since January, according to research firm ComScore. RIM was in the top spot before that, but dethroned as the smartphone platform leader by Google's Android.

Over the three-month period ended April 30, Android nabbed a 36.4% share of the market, while the iPhone took a 26% share and RIM fell to third place with a 25.7% share, down from 30.4% in the three-month period ended Jan. 31, according to the ComScore report released Friday.

About 74.6 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones during the three-month period ended in April, up 13% from the previous three-month period, ComScore said.

Behind Google, Apple and RIM comes Microsoft's Windows Phone handsets with a 6.7% share during the period ended in April, down from 8% during the previous period, and HP's Palm line of phones with a 2.6% share in the latest period, down from 3.2% in the previous period.

ComScore's report largely lines up with the market share split as determined by the Nielsen research firm, which also reported a top three of Android, iPhone and BlackBerry this week.

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Photo: Michael Lazaridis, president, co-chief executive and co-founder of Research in Motion, speaks at the BlackBerry World conference in Orlando, Fla., on May 3. Credit: Phelan M. Ebenhack / Bloomberg

HP TouchPad might beat Android and BlackBerry tablets, but not the iPad, analyst says

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The HP TouchPad, running WebOS, could be slick enough to attract more consumers than any individual Android tablets or the BlackBerry PlayBook -- but it has no shot at dethroning the Apple iPad, an analyst said Wednesday.

"Collectively, Android tablets are huge; the market is already flooded with them. But if you're looking not at the whole platform, but rather a one-to-one comparison, the TouchPad could make a good case for the No. 2 spot behind the iPad," said Sarah Rotman Epps, a tech analyst at Forrester Research. "The TouchPad could outsell the Motorola Xoom or the Samsung Galaxy Tab or the BlackBerry PlayBook."

A major advantage that Hewlett-Packard's TouchPad could have over tablets running Google's Android operating system is its screen size, Rotman Epps said.

"Every Android tablet is slightly different, and Honeycomb, the first version of Android optimized for tablets, isn't out yet," she said. "So what you've had so far is a smart-phone operating system on a bunch of tablets and not many Android apps actually built for tablet use."

HPTouchPadfront The mix of inconsistent specs for Android tablets has made it tougher for developers looking to make tablet apps on Android, Rotman Epps said.

"What HP has to overcome is that the only apps out there built for tablets right now are really built for the iPad," she said. "If your tablet is going to succeed, it needs apps, and making the screen on the TouchPad the same size as the iPad should make it easier for developers to port apps over. If developers start doing that, then HP can build an app ecosystem which will attract consumers."

The screen size isn't the only specification that matches the iPad, she noted. Both the iPad and the TouchPad run on Wi-Fi and 3G Internet service, weigh 1.6 pounds and have processors running at about 1 GHz.

The TouchPad features a front-facing camera for video chat, and the next-generation iPad, which should hit retail sometime this year, is widely expected to also feature a camera on the front to utilize Apple's FaceTime video-chat standard.

"It is not at all a mistake on HP's part that the TouchPad and the iPad are so similar," Rotman Epps said. "HP is explicitly trying to compete with Apple in having its own hardware and having its own operating system. So far, Apple has been by far the most successful in the tablet space, and HP is looking to replicate that success on its own. Not with Android and not with Windows."

It's noteworthy, she said, that HP isn't offering its first consumer tablet with Microsoft's Windows 7 -- the same operating system that runs on its HP 500 Slate tablet aimed at business users.

"If you're making boxes that run Android or Windows, you have the problem of competing with all the other boxes that run Android of Windows," Rotman Epps said."But it does say something about the failure of Microsoft to position Windows 7 as a winning operating system for tablets that HP is willing to go out on its own with WebOS. This is really another missed opportunity for Microsoft in tablets."

Nothing HP announced on Wednesday puts it ahead of Apple, but the TouchPad running WebOS is a bet that its brand strength and retail channels are strong enough to compete with Apple, she said.

With HP attempting to build WebOS up as a major operating system for tablets and smart phones, the trimming of the Palm brand from the name and marketing of the new WebOS devices isn't a mistake either, the analyst said.

"People love Windows, and HP now has the challenge of convincing consumers to want HP devices that don't run Windows," Rotman Epps said. "HP is trying to differentiate itself and unbundle itself from Microsoft, and that means they're losing a bit of the Microsoft brand and marketing power that could have helped their tablets, but keeping the Palm name around wouldn't help them."

HPTouhPadBack HP is a high-ranking brand and a name consumers trust, she said.

"Palm is not," Rottman Epps said. "In our studies, HP ranks pretty high and Palm always ranks pretty low. HP recognizes that in the U.S. and globally, it has a much stronger brand than Palm to try and build a tablet ecosystem on."

HP made a big deal of getting apps for Netflix and Amazon's Kindle on its WebOS phones and on the TouchPad when it announced the new devices on Wednesday during a news conference in San Francisco. Having an app for Netflix does put WebOS ahead of Android -- which still doesn't have an app that can stream video from the popular movie-and-TV-show subscription service.

But such apps are expected by consumers at this point, she said.

"Kindle and Netflix is not a differentiator, but it's necessary, and having them on board is what HP needs to do to gain serious consideration from consumers," Rottman Epps said.

And if HP can do that, then spending $1.2 billion to buy Palm last April could pay off.

Forrester has forecast that more than 24 million tablets will be sold in the U.S. in 2011, with the lion's share of them being the iPad. Apple sold more than 14 million iPad's last year, with 7.33 million units sold last quarter.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

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Photo: HP Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein, shows off the new HP TouchPad tablet during a Hewlett Packard WebOS press conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, Feb. 9. Credit: Associated Press

Images: (Middle) The front of the HP TouchPad tablet and (bottom) the back of the device. Credit: Hewlett-Packard

HP announces TouchPad tablet, and Veer and Pre3 smartphones -- all running WebOS

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Hewlett-Packard unveiled the TouchPad tablet Wednesday in San Francisco, along with two new smartphones -- the Veer and Pre3.

The company touted the new devices as delivering the HP WebOS mobile operating system in "three new flavors: small, medium, and large."

The three products also mark a shift in branding for Palm devices under HP's ownership. The Palm name is being cut back to a product line under the larger HP umbrella -- a move foreshadowed by the renaming of Palm's WebOS to HP WebOS in October. HPPre3

HP bought the struggling Palm last April for $1.2 billion.

The first tablet from Palm, now a division of HP, is formally being called the HP TouchPad -- not the HP Palm TouchPad or Palm TouchPad or the Palm TouchPad from HP.

The device even sports a silver HP logo on its shiny-black plastic back with the Palm name nowhere to be found.

The TouchPad's spec sheet is a similar to that of Apple's iPad. The touch screen on the TouchPad is 9.7 inches diagonally and it weighs 1.6 pounds -- the same as the 3G iPad.

The TouchPad also is, for now, only going to be offered in a 3G flavor, either with 16GB or 32GB of memory. No Wi-Fi-only model was announced.

The HP tablet, however, will be capable of being used for video chatting -- a feature notoriously left off of the iPad but expected on the iPad 2 and found on many other tablets, including the slow-selling Samsung Galaxy Tab.

The TouchPad will feature a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera and 1.2-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.

Unlike the Galaxy Tab, the TouchPad will have no camera on the back for shooting photos or video with.

HP is bringing over its Beats Audio technology, developed with Monster Audio and rap-producer Dr. Dre for HP laptops, to the TouchPad promising "great sound through the built-in stereo speakers."

The TouchPad is set to release this summer and it could end up being HP's first consumer tablet to make it to the market.

HP released its $800 HP 500 Slate last fall, running Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system, but has only sold the device to businesses through its website and has not released the tablet to electronics stores or mobile carriers. The Slate also was limited to Wi-Fi-only Internet connectivity.

The TouchPad is set to release "this summer," HP said, offering no details on price as of yet.

The HP Pre3 is the Palm division's "medium"-sized smartphone, which is growing in size from its Palm Pre and Palm Pre2 forefathers. HPVeer

The Pre3 will feature a 3.58-inch touchscreen with a 480 x 800 resolution, up from the previous two Pre's 3.1-inch displays.

The new Pre smartphone will run on a 1.4-GHz Qualcomm processor and also have a forward-facing camera for video calls, a first for a Palm phone.

The third Pre will also come equipped with a 5-megapixel autofocus camera capable of shooting high-definition video, paired with an LED flash.

It and the "small" HP Veer, both runing the HP WebOS, both are set to release this summer and haven't been given a price yet.

Both phones, like the TouchPad, also are absent the Palm name and again are stamped with HP logos on back.

The HP Veer is about size of a credit card at 3.25 inches tall with a 2.6-inch touchscreen and slide-out keyboard. The Veer will come with 8 GB of storage -- the same as the Pre2.

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Top Photo: Paul Jacobs (left), CEO of Qualcomm, Jon Rubinstein (middle), senior vice president and general manager for HP Palm, and Todd Bradley, executive vice president of HP Palm's personal systems group, stand onstage during an HP WebOS press conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. Jacobs is holding the HP Veer smart phone, Rubinstein is holding the HP Pre3 smart phone and Bradley is holding the HP TouchPad. Credit: Beck Diefenbach/Reuters

Images: HP Pre2, top, HP Veer, middle, and HP TouchPad, bottom. Credit: Hewlett-Packard

Samsung Galaxy Tab is on sale from Verizon and T-Mobile, Sprint on Sunday [Updated]

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After about seven months with the nascent tablet computer market largely to itself, Apple's iPad has a new challenger arriving in stores Thursday: the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

The much hyped Galaxy Tab is available from Verizon for $599.99. The mobile carrier is also offering optional 3G data plans for the Galaxy Tab starting at 1 gigabyte of data for $20 a month.

On Sunday, Sprint will start selling the Galaxy Tab, too, for $399.99. But Sprint is selling the tablet with mandatory 3G data plans starting at $29.99 a month for 2 gigabytes of data.

AT&T is supposed to start selling the Samsung tablet as well, but the carrier has yet to say when the device will arrive in its stores or pricing.

The Galaxy Tab's $599.99 Verizon price-point comes in just $30 less that Apple's starting price for its 3G iPad. Samsung's new gadget is also smaller physically, with dimensions that make the Galaxy Tab feel very much like a thin paperback book in the hand.

The device, which runs on Google's Android operating system designed for smart phones, features a 7-inch touch screen and a weight of just 0.84 of a pound. The 3G iPad has a 9.7-inch touch screen and weighs 1.6 pounds.

Samsung's new tablet also features a front-facing camera, which can be used for video chatting, and a camera and flash on the back for shooting photos and video. The iPad has no cameras.

Samsung said it will offer a Wi-Fi only version of the Galaxy Tab, but hasn't said when such an option, which will likely be priced less than the current Wi-Fi and 3G capable model, will arrive in stores.

The Galaxy Tab's arrival is just the beginning of increased competition in the tablet market. The BlackBerry Playbook will arrive next year for less than $500 and Hewlett-Packard will release its HP Slate running a tablet modified version of Palm's WebOS operating system.

The appetite for tablet computers seems to be real. Apple said it has sold 7.5 million iPads since April.

[Updated 2:49 p.m. Nov. 5] The Galaxy Tab arrived in T-Mobile stores on Wednesday, selling for $399.99, after a $50 mail-in rebate. T-Mobile is selling the Galaxy Tab for $399.99 online with the $50 already knocked off, allowing consumers to skip the rebate process. Both in-store and online $399.99 price points through the carrier require a 2-year data plan, which start at about $30 a month.

T-Mobile is also selling the Galaxy Tab for $599.99 without a data plan and the company is allows Galaxy Tab owners to use their tablets as Wi-Fi hot spots at no extra charge. Sprint charges $30 per month for the ability to use the Galaxy Tab as a Wi-Fi hot spot.

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Image: Samsung Galaxy Tabs. Credit: Samsung Electronics.

HP unveils Palm Pre 2 and Web OS 2.0

Hewlett-Packard Co. unveiled the Palm Pre 2 and an upgraded version of Palm's WebOS smart phone operating system Tuesday.

The Palm Pre 2 and the updated operating system, officially dubbed HP WebOS 2.0, are the first new product releases since HP bought Palm in April for $1.2 billionWhy-go_2

The new handset will come equipped with WebOS 2.0. It will hit stores in France on Friday through mobile carrier SFR, but North America will have to wait a bit longer.

The Palm Pre 2 will make its way to the U.S. and Canada in "coming months," HP said in a statement. Users of the first Palm Pre, the Palm Pre Plus, the Pixi and the Pixi Plus will also have to wait a few months before they receive a free upgrade to WebOS 2.0.

The new Palm handset will be exclusive to Verizon customers in the U.S. A Canadian carrier has yet to be announced.

The Pre 2 doesn't depart much from the formula of the original Pre, which hit U.S. retailers about 16 months ago. It will run on 3G networks, and there are no major new features such as a front-facing camera. The screen still measures 3.1 inches diagonally.

The new handset features a 5-megapixel camera that can shoot both photos and video. It will also come with 16 GB of memory -- the same amount as the Pre Plus and 8 GB more than the original Pre. The Pre 2's processor speed will jump to 1 GHz from the Pre and Pre Plus' 600 MHz. 

A black band and rounded edges around the phone's touch screen look similar to those of its predecessors, and a vertical slide-out keyboard underneath the screen returns too. Webos_touchstone

WebOS 2.0 isn't much of a departure from the first iteration of WebOS either. The new software will improve management of multitasking between applications, grouping together related tasks, HP said.

WebOS collected contacts from Microsoft Exchange, Facebook, LinkedIn and other services in one place, and WebOS 2.0 will do the same with calendars and instant-messaging services as well. 

And WebOS 2.0 will be able to support Flash 10.1 to render websites and video running on the Adobe software application.

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Photos: Palm Pre 2. Credit: Hewlett-Packard Co.

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