Palm Chief Says HP's Apotheker 'Jazzed' About webOS

Anticipation is building within HP over the imminent arrival of the company's first webOS tablet, and even HP CEO Leo Apotheker is finding it hard to contain his excitement.

"Leo is really jazzed about having webOS," Jon Rubinstein, former Palm CEO and current head of HP's mobile devices business unit, said Tuesday at the D: Dive Into Mobile conference in San Francisco, as reported by Bloomberg.

HP plans to launch an "awesome tablet" next year that runs on webOS, Rubinstein said, although he didn't provide additional details. HP last month rolled out its Slate 500 tablet for businesses, but hasn't yet brought a consumer focused tablet to market. HP trademarked the name "PalmPad" last July, and there has been speculation that this will be the name of HP's answer to the iPad and Android tablets.

Palm was struggling to remain relevant in the mobile space before the acquisition, and the widely hyped Palm Pre smartphone didn't meet expectations, so HP clearly has a lot to prove when it comes to spinning webOS into a successful product line. However, Rubinstein's view is that companies with solid strategies still have a chance to succeed in the mobile space.

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"I think we still have the chance to become a major player if we do the right things," Rubinstein said at the event.

In addition to smartphone technology and webOS, the Palm deal brought HP a sizable base of developers and applications, along with a platform for delivering cloud-based services. Palm may have been teetering on the edge of oblivion as a standalone company, but HP sees Palm as the linchpin of its connected devices strategy. And as is usually the case with HP, channel partners will have a role here.

In April after the Palm acquisition was unveiled, Stephen DeWitt, senior vice president and general manager of HP's Personal Systems Group Americas, described the deal as "a continuation of what HP has done for years, wrapping technology around the opportunity with our partners, enabling our partners to take it to the market. We are absolutely going to do that."

As for Apotheker, he might be thrilled with the potential of webOS, but he's got bigger fish to fry at the moment and has already made building HP's software business -- which accounted for 3 percent of the company's $126 billion in revenue during FY2010 -- a top priority.