Hewlett-Packard planned acquisition of Palm immediately puts the PC-centric company knee-deep in the smart phone race, but perhaps more importantly positions the company to compete in the burgeoning tablet market, says iSuppli.
According to the research firm, the acquisition gives HP the means to use Palm’s WebOS platform to release a tablet device that will compete against Apple’s iPad as well as whatever arises from the relationship between Nokia and Intel.
iSuppli forecasts worldwide tablet shipments will expand to 11.0 million units in 2010, up from just 2.0 million units in 2009 and 1.8 million units in 2008. Most of the shipments in 2010 will be made up by sales of the iPad, and sales will continue to expand in the coming years as a range of competitors enters the tablet market.
iSuppli believes that a key component in HP’s strategy will be to utilize its common WebOS operating system as a basis for developing a tablet that can use the same applications and services being employed by the company’s existing smart phone product line.
According to the analysts, the challenge for HP is to develop an ecosystem around a platform that will be able to compete with the centralized apps store Apple has created. That also means garnering support from leading developers in order to get the right apps and features available for multi-platform mobilized devices.
What this means is that there are now three major competitors positioning for a fully interoperable, multi-device platform: Nokia/Intel, Apple and now HP with its Palm purchase.
“Even so, this doesn’t even address the number of Taiwanese and other vendors that are developing their own tablet PCs in what will surely be a highly competitive market in years to come,” as iSuppli claims.