HP WebOS Netbook Planned, Along with Tablet and Smartphone: Report

HP is reportedly planning to introduce a netbook running Palm's WebOS, in addition to tablets and smartphones.

Hewlett-Packard is expected to soon introduce a tablet running WebOS, as well as a smartphone. But a netbook? According to Jan. 17 report from Ars Technica, netbooks are among the planned HP devices that will not only run the company's prized new mobile OS, but will seamlessly interact.

HP reportedly includes netbooks in a discovered set of training materials that it developed to help educate its mobile carriers' salespeople, according to the tech site.

"One of the advantages of WebOS that is briefly highlighted in the training is the platform's ability to run on multiple devices that can easily communicate with each other over the Internet," writes Ars Technica. "The specific form factors listed in the training are phones, tablets and netbooks."

On Jan. 5 HP sent out invitations to members of the press, inviting them to an event Feb. 9. Besides including a WebOS announcement, the invitation offered few details about the event, beyond the teaser line: "Think big. Think small. Think beyond." This prompted speculation that HP perhaps plans to show off tablets of various sizes, or additionally a number of form factors.

Speaking to CNBC interviewer Maria Bartiromo at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show Jan. 7, HP Executive Vice President Todd Bradley confirmed that a variety of WebOS-running form factors are planned-at one point even seeming to suggest that a television is in the works.

"It's the only true multitasking operating system, where you actually can have 20 different applications open simultaneously," Bradley told Bartiromo. "So as we think about how that enables everything from smartphones to tablets to PCs to potentially other large-screen devices"-and here he spread his hands apart quite wide-"we see an enormous opportunity for both ourselves and our customers to get the best Web experience, the best content experience that they can."

Bradley added that WebOS was HP's "strategic reason" for its $1.2 billion purchase of smartphone maker Palm in mid-2010-a fact of which HP has made no secret. In a July 1, 2010, statement announcing the completion of the acquisition, Bradley said the purchase would enable Palm to "participate more aggressively in the highly profitable, $100 billion smartphone and connected mobile devices markets." He added that with WebOS, HP planned to deliver "a unique and compelling experience across smartphones and other products."

These products, however, have been slower to come to market than expected, and even as late as December 2009, Jon Rubinstein, the former CEO of Palm and the man now in charge of the Palm brand for HP, would only offer a vague "early 2011" as a time frame. Since HP first hinted at a fleet of WebOS-running devices, a number of competitors have already introduced tablets-including, most notably, Samsung.

By Bradley's count, 96 tablets were on display at CES, which prompted Bartiromo to suggest that a lot of vendors were "playing catch-up to the Apple iPad"-the device that created the media tablet market-and ask how HP plans to compete.

"You and I will talk about that on the 9th," answered Bradley.