Before the iPad was officially announced, Steve Ballmer took the stage at CES and unveiled the HP Slate, a Windows 7 running tablet PC to be released later this year. According to Ballmer, the device was proof that Microsoft could do a multitouch operating system just as well as Apple.
On their part, though, HP seems to disagree. Their recent acquisition of Palm puts them in control of webOS, a fantastic mobile operating system designed from the ground up for mobile phones and tablets. As a result, it looks like they’ve canceled Slate in favor of a forthcoming, webOS-based tablet codenamed the Hurricane.
According to The Examiner, the Hurricane could be released in Q3 of 2010. HP’s acquisition deal isn’t due to be finalized until July 31st, so that’s the earliest possible date we could see a webOS tablet.
It’s optimistic even then: HP can’t just take the existing Slate hardware and slap webOS on it, they need to build a device with an ARM core, and modify webOS to make more sense on tablets. With the Slate killed, that seems to me to indicate that HP won’t have a tablet to offer consumers until early next year, at the earliest… giving the iPad a year head start.
That’s a shame. HP makes good hardware, webOS is a fantastic operating system, and a strong competitor to Apple in the tablet space can only make the iPad better. I can’t wait to see what HP has planned for the Hurricane.