Hewlett-Packard on Tuesday signaled that it is beginning to execute on its grand plans for Palm as the company launched webOS 2.0.
In a statement, HP billed the launch as "the most significant update to the platform" since it launched in 2009. The OS will make its debut on the Palm Pre 2, which is available in France on carrier SFR and later on Verizon Wireless in the U.S. The Palm Pre 2 has a 1 Ghz processor and sleeker design.
What remains to be seen is whether HP can play catch-up with the webOS. The platform was groundbreaking at launch, but lost momentum as Apple and Android devices kept innovating. The smartphone market is really a game decided by developers and the Android and Apple ecosystems are much larger than what Palm can cobble together.
Earlier this month, HP showed some interest in Palm as it hired key executives for the unit. HP acquired Palm in April, but hasn't done much since. Meanwhile, HP's printer unit has an Android console that doubles as a tablet and talks up Apple's iOS.
Jon Rubinstein, general manager of HP's Palm unit, said the latest webOS will be good for consumers, enterprises and developers. Not that second item. Palm probably wouldn't have given a nod to the enterprise right away if it weren't owned by HP.
Among the key features in webOS 2.0:
- Multitasking so you can switch between apps and stack tasks.
- Type to start an email or message before opening an app.
- HP Synergy will allow you to connect with multiple services such as Facebook, Exchange and LinkedIn.
- Support for Flash 10.1.
- QuickOffice Connect for mobile.
- Unified messaging.
- Improved App catalog.
Simply put, HP is giving Palm some love to show what it can do. The real future for the webOS, however, may be on HP tablets.