HP has trademarked the name "PalmPad," a signal that the computing giant is prepping a tablet computer to rival the Apple iPad using the fruits of its acquisition of Palm earlier this year.
According to the PalmPad trademark filing, HP will use the PalmPad name for "computers, computer hardware, computer software, computer peripherals, portable computers, handheld and mobile computers, PDAs, electronic notepads, mobile digital electronic devices."
Industry watchers are speculating that the PalmPad trademark is a sure sign that HP will build a touch-screen tablet based on Palm's webOS mobile operating system, which Palm introduced on the Palm Pre smartphone last year.
The name PalmPad also signifies that HP has its tablet guns trained on the Apple iPad, the touch-screen tablet to beat. The iPad has already sold more than 3 million units since it hit the market in April.
But the trademark may be premature. If history is any indicator, HP has been fickle with its tablet plans. HP has already delayed its "Slate" tablet, an iPad-like device the computer maker was trumpeting just months ago. When HP first showcased the Slate at CES in January, the company said it would run Windows 7. Later, HP was rumored to be working on a tablet based on the Google Android operating system. Both projects have apparently been delayed in favor of webOS.
Leveraging webOS in a tablet would be the first major move HP has made since acquiring struggling Sunnyvale, Calif.-based smartphone maker Palm in late April. The $1.2 billion Palm acquisition closed on July 1. At the time the deal closed, HP hinted that it would back off of Windows 7 in favor of webOS.
"Palm will be responsible for webOS software development and webOS-based hardware products, from a robust smartphone roadmap to future slate PCs and netbooks," HP said in a statement at the time.