Hewlett-Packard offers tablet PCs as part of its portfolio, and the company did have plans to offer what appeared to be a media tablet--the Slate, likely running Windows 7--but those plans seem to have been pre-empted by HP's recent $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm.
The upshot? "They've conceded that it's not an easy jump" from tablet PCs to media tablets, said ABI analyst Jeff Orr.
"There's some uncertainty in what they're doing," noted Sarah Rotman Epps of analyst firm Forrester. Indeed, HP CEO Mark Hurd raised a few eyebrows recently when he said HP didn't spend $1.2 billion to buy Palm so it could be in the smartphone business. The company quickly tried to clarify his remarks, explaining that HP acquired Palm and its webOS platform for "an array of interconnected devices, including tablets, printers and, of course, smartphones."
But simply sticking webOS into a tablet may not be as easy as the company suggests.
"It's very important" for HP to get into tablets, Epps noted, adding: "Either webOS or Windows will require modification to be applicable to tablets."
Concluded IDC analyst Susan Kevorkian: "It would be a stronger position for HP to combine a smartphone play with a tablet play."