Hewlett-Packard has put its plans for an Android-running tablet on hold, All Things D reported July 15, citing “sources in position to know.” While the device was expected to ship during the fourth quarter, the site reports that consumers now shouldn’t expect it by year’s end.
One explanation could be that HP is focusing its efforts on a tablet running WebOS, the mobile operating system it acquired in its $1.2 billion acquisition of smartphone-maker Palm. HP has made no secret of its interest in WebOS or its plans to expand it beyond smartphones.
“With webOS, HP will deliver its customers a unique and compelling experience across smartphones and other mobility products,” HP Executive Vice President Todd Bradley said in a July 1 statement on the completion of HP’s Palm acquisition.
Former Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein added, in regard to WebOS, “This agreement will accelerate the development of this incredible platform with new resources, scale and support from a world-respected brand.”
There have been media reports that such a tablet would be called the HP Hurricane, would include Adobe Flash – giving it an advantage over the anti-Flash Apple iPad – and could arrive as soon as the third quarter of this year. HP, however, has offered no comment on the reports.
Also keeping HP’s plate full is the Slate, a long-planned tablet running Microsoft’s Windows 7 OS. Still more rumors, again citing HP insiders, suggested that an HP Hurricane could replace the Slate all together, but according to a May 21 report from DigiTimes, HP’s vice president of personal computing systems in Taiwan, Monty Wong, confirmed that the Slate is still a go and will debut toward the end of HP’s fiscal year in October.
Whichever operating systems it does eventually launch on a tablet, HP – like fellow PC-maker Dell – will face some tough competition in Apple’s iPad, analyst Ben Ritzes, with Barclays Capital, told investors in a July 7 research note.
“HP knows it needs to be big in this category, given the iPad seems to be cannibalizing its notebook market after just 3 months of sales,” Reitzes wrote. “HP is opting to emulate Apple (albeit a bit late) and clearly sees synergies with Palm that could help drive sales of tablets and printers as well as smartphones.”
Reitzes added that HP’s scale and considerable retail channel will work to its advantage – and that should a webOS-powered HP tablet prove successful, it will make the going that much tougher for Dell.
Barclays expects Apple to sell 20 million iPads in 2011, and research firm IDC expects total tablet shipments to reach 46 million in 2014.