A hot HP webOS tablet in Q3? Could be. The first fruits of HP's acquisition of Palm might be only a few months down the line, and could be in the form of a new HP tablet-style computer powered by webOS, Palm's proprietary mobile operating system.
If the rumors pan out, the new tablet, supposedly code-named HP Hurricane, could be a major product launch for HP in the third quarter -- and a potential wedge driven between longtime partners HP and Microsoft.
That was the word from Examiner.com, which over the weekend referenced an unnamed HP source as saying the HP Hurricane webOS tablet is very real and will likely be released in Q3.
HP did not respond to Sunday requests to confirm the existence of a webOS tablet in development.
HP's acquisition of Palm beget rumors that it would move to focus on Palm's webOS, currently seen in Palm handsets like the Palm Pre and Palm Pixi, for new mobile devices.
That suggestion went hand in hand with reports that HP would shift gears away from a HP tablet that would run on Microsoft's Windows 7 OS. But HP has said several times that the rumors it would abandon Microsoft operating systems were "speculation."
Depending on how much of the Palm smartphone portfolio it intends to keep, however, HP will already have a range of mobile devices that compete with Microsoft's Windows Mobile and forthcoming Windows Phone 7.
HP also made a big name hire recently in former Microsoft executive Bill Veghte, who will run HP's $3.6 billion Software and Solutions business unit. Veghte will start work at HP on May 17, and at the time of his hiring, HP Enterprise Business Executive Vice President Ann Livermore said that expanding that group is "critical to HP."
HP announced plans to acquire struggling Palm for about $1.2 billion on April 28. According to high-ranking HP executives, HP partners will see tremendous opportunity thanks to the acquisition, including a potential way in for partners to the enterprise smartphone channel.
At the HP Americas Partner Conference in Las Vegas in late April, many HP partners were equally excited about the possibilities, saying Palm would help further bolster what HP can offer in mobile devices and in certain vertical markets.