HP Eyes 7-Inch webOS TouchPad for August: Report

Taiwanese company Inventec is reportedly teaming with HP to release a 7-inch tablet device.

As technology giant Hewlett-Packard gears up to release its 9.7-inch TouchPad tablet on July 1, a report from a Taiwanese news agency suggests the company is also prepping a 7-inch tablet device that could also run the company's webOS operating system, which will power the TouchPad. The publication reported an unnamed subcontractor for Inventec Corp., a contract manufacturer of PCs in Taiwan, saying HP had placed a large order for tablet devices from Inventec.

Starting out as a manufacturer of electronic calculators, Inventec moved into the design and manufacturing of high-tech products such as notebooks, enterprise servers, storage products, wireless communications, network applications, consumer mobile devices, consumer electronic devices, and wireless solutions. Currently, the annual production capacity of notebooks exceeds 30 million units, over 3 million servers and 5 million smartphones, according to the company.

webOS is a proprietary mobile operating system running on the Linux kernel, initially developed by Palm, which was later acquired by HP. In March 2011, HP announced plans for a version of webOS by the end of 2011 to run within the Microsoft Windows operating system, and to be installed on all HP desktop and notebook computers in 2012. The platform uses multi-touch gestures to navigate on the touchscreen, but does not natively include a virtual keyboard application as the devices include slide-out keyboards. Users can obtain virtual keyboards through patching.

The WiFi version of TouchPad will be available in stores and online in the U.S. with the option of either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage for $499.99 and $599.99, respectively. The TouchPad will be available in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and Germany on July 2 and in Canada on July 15, with availability scheduled to follow later this year in Australia, Hong Kong, Italy, New Zealand, Singapore and Spain, according to a company release.

The company also recently announced the launch of webOS Pivot, which is designed to provide users with an "entertaining and informative editorial resource" for discovering webOS 3.0 applications for the TouchPad. Designed to complement the HP webOS App Catalog, Pivot will showcase a broad range of applications - and the developers who create them - by providing customers the ability to explore based on their interests and lifestyles. The release is one of HP's efforts to enhance the webOS Developer Program and invest further in the success of the growing ecosystem.

Content will be catered to the specific interests and requirements of a given region and the company said it is designed to appeal to a range of international customers. The webOS Developer Program enhancements also include a new discount structure. Developers will have access to this pricing model based on their years in the Palm developer program and active applications in the webOS App Catalog.

A recent survey of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) found owners are accelerating the shift away from desktops and laptops and moving toward the latest technology and gadgets such as smartphones and tablets. When asked about iPads and applications, nine percent responded that they have used an iPad, and 31 percent responded that they used applications for business. SMB owners have decreased their use of desktops, notebooks/netbooks and laptops from last year, the survey also found.