Palm’s Foleo appeared to be a misguided attempt to add value to PalmOS phones. It had an ARM CPU, instant on capability, and ran a custom version of linux. The offering was canceled just shortly before it would have become available. Looking back on this effort now, it has some similarity to the expected Android tablet. If it weren’t for the Palm fixation with a hardware keyboard, one might imagine the keyboard removed from this effort to make it a true tablet.
Now HP has announced the acquisition of Palm and almost simultaneously canceled their Windows 7 slate computer. This is the same computer Steve Balmer was proudly showing at CES.
The HP slate could be made to run WebOS. The CPU, a z530, comes from the part of the Intel lineup that is intended for UMPC computers. This puts its performance at the slow end of Atom processors but also provides integrated hardware for video decoding, making it a good choice if you need a tablet to have x86 compatibility. It’s thought that the Atom CPU might not be the ideal fit for an operating system like WebOS that can run on ARM, but it is not a bad choice from the x86 column. The WebOS emulator is already running natively on x86, so it’s not a difficult leap to make the production OS run there too.
On the smaller side of things, the iPaq Glisten is currently an also-ran model with WM 6.5. This particular model might be doomed to stick with WM since WebOS hasn’t made an appearance on a 320×240 screen. The upcoming Windows Mobile migration to version 7 would be a great point in time for HP to leap off the Windows Mobile bandwagon and make their next model much more interesting to everyone. The windows change represents a painful transition for WM developers and a significant challenge for OEMs and vendors. The fledgling WebOS will look positively mature in comparison.
Here’s to seeing something interesting coming from HP.