HP has announced plans to purchase Palm for a cool $1.2 billion. Few additional details are available at the moment, but HP will be conducting a live audio webcast at 2:00pm PDT to discuss the acquisition. Based on this snippet from the official press release, it looks like HP is keen on using Palm's webOS for smartphones and potentially other devices.
“Palm’s innovative operating system provides an ideal platform to expand HP’s mobility strategy and create a unique HP experience spanning multiple mobile connected devices,” said Todd Bradley, executive vice president, Personal Systems Group, HP. “And, Palm possesses significant IP assets and has a highly skilled team. The smartphone market is large, profitable and rapidly growing, and companies that can provide an integrated device and experience command a higher share. Advances in mobility are offering significant opportunities, and HP intends to be a leader in this market.”
HP has employed Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform in the past, but with the Palm acquisition, it may have no need for Redmond's upcoming Windows Phone 7 OS. Or Android, for that matter.
Early reports suggest that HP's Slate alternative to the iPad will run Windows 7 Home Premium. That OS choice makes sense given the Slate's netbook-class Atom underpinnings. However, with webOS at its disposal, HP will have considerable flexibility when developing other "mobile connected devices." WebOS supports true multitasking, as well, making it a particularly intriguing alternative to the iPhone OS for devices that blur the line between smartphones, PDAs, and netbooks.