The first shipments of HP's initial webOS tablet will begin in March 2011, though it's unlikely to reach consumers straight away, according to the latest whispers out of Taipei. DigiTimes' sources claim Inventec will begin ODM production of the first webOS slate at the end of Q3 2011, whereupon it will head to HP for software testing.
HP has an announcement to make regarding webOS on February 9th. The tagline "Something big, Something small, Something beyond" had many people trying to guess what the company had to show off, with plenty of fingers being pointed at a tablet device. HP and Palm haven't been coy with their tablet talk, though, and have confirmed that a tablet device is on its way featuring Palm's webOS mobile Operating System (OS). As many high-profile devices generally do, it seems that at least one of the tablet devices has found its way into the Internet, in internal render form, well before the official unveiling of the device.
HP has suggested that webOS-based netbooks may be in the pipeline, along with smartphones and tablets. According to a webOS carrier training site, HP's master plan for the Palm-sourced platform is a single OS running on phone, slate and netbook, which "all talked to each other and shared information."
HP VP Todd Bradley has been laying down some teasers for the upcoming February 9 event, telling CNBC that the company has "announced February 9th we have a broad public set of announcements, broadly about the future of webOS and the breadth of products that it’ll enable." While a tablet is not specifically confirmed, Bradley later goes on suggest that HP is "focused" on the tablet market and that HP will show during the event how it plans to differentiate its slate from the iPad.
Everyone's favorite news source FoxNews.com has obtained a spec sheet for a forthcoming PalmTablet today from "a trusted source." They've revealed that HP will introduce three models of a PalmPad at CES at the beginning of 2011, each of them with only minor hardware differences inside. Each of these tablets will run WebOS 2.5.1 and will represent a sort of spin-off of the magical mystical never-saw-daylight HP Slate. Also included in this upcoming series will be a fourth tablet (that won't be seen at CES) but will be "custom made for university students to prove how versatile the machines can be."
Amazon has quietly announced that ex-Palm CEO and current HP SVP Jon Rubinstein has joined as a director. The news, part of a security and exchange commission filing, does not suggest that Rubinstein's role as director will include, but it's possible that he could assist in Amazon's development of a Kindle-brand tablet to better compete with the iPad and Barnes & Noble NOOKcolor.
Speculation regarding an Amazon tablet has been circulating for some time, though the company has resolutely stuck to the party line that it is focused on its Kindle range of dedicated ebook readers. Nonetheless, the Kindles have become more functional as the line has matured; Amazon now offers third-party applications, and the most recent Kindle has a WebKit based browser like the latest smartphones.
HP's first webOS-based tablet has found itself a launch window, though the timings are guesstimates from analyst digging rather than any official word from the company itself. Having met with Asian tech sources recently, BMO Capital Markets analyst Keith Bachman believes the webOS tablet will arrive in March 2011; so far, HP has only confirmed that the slate is on track for release sometime in 2011.
A few tablet tidbits seeping out of Taipei today, with reports that Inventec is on track to secure a deal with HP for a Palm webOS tablet in Q1 2011. According to DigiTimes' industry sources, HP plans to order 6-7 million Inventec-made webOS tablets; it's unclear whether this is a different model to the webOS tablet Foxconn was tipped to be producing, or if HP has switched its OEM allegiances. Meanwhile, Intel-based ASUS, Acer, Dell, Samsung and Toshiba tablets - including high-end Core i5 machines - are also tipped as incoming, potentially as early as the end of this year.
HP teased us all for a while with the Slate tablet computer. We started to wonder if the thing would turn out to be nothing more than vaporware. HP finally put the Slate up for sale and the demand from consumers quickly resulted in a wait of 6-weeks according to HP when it announced the delay in November.