HP plans webOS announcement after CES

Amid all the tablet news from CES, HP seems to be planning its own media event to unveil webOS tablets.

Tablets may be the big story at CES this year, but HP is playing it cool when it comes to detailing its webOS tablet plans. Yesterday, the company sent out invitations to a media event scheduled for February 9.

The move is reminiscent of Apple's strategy of hosting its own press events outside of major trade shows. Apple doesn’t participate in CES or the Mobile World Congress (to be held next month in Barcelona) shows, for example. Apple even pulled out of the MacWorld Expo show last year, opting to rely entirely on its own events. The strategy has worked well for Apple – avoiding competing announcements and creating hype about potential new products at the same time.

Palm appears to be copying the strategy pretty closely. The invitations from HP simply feature the HP logo and the text "Thing big. Think small. Think beyond." followed by "Please join HP on February 9 for an exciting webOS announcement." That's it except for details about the time (10 a.m. PST) and location.

With CES being filled with tablet introductions (virtually all running Android and Windows 7), HP's self-contained event will give the company a lot more power to stand out. webOS has frequently been overshadowed by other mobile operating systems and creating an event around the platform could work out well for HP... that is unless Apple schedules its anticipated Verizon iPhone (and potentially iPad) announcement around the same time.

The text of the invitation seems to confirm that HP will announce a webOS tablet (think big) and possibly more webOS phones in addition to the Palm Pre 2 (think small). Of course the text could also refer to webOS tablets in multiple form factors. The phrase "think beyond" is a little more vague. HP has introduced web-enabled printers and has said it planned to use some of the intellectual property it acquired with Palm in next-generation printing solutions. However, I'm more inclined to believe this might refer to some type of cloud service for webOS users. That would fit with both the webOS philosophy as well as the general trend in mobile computing.

Whatever, HP's plans, we only have a few weeks to wait before they become public.

What do you think? Is this event about webOS tablets, a cloud service, or something else entirely. Share your speculation in the comments.

Ryan Faas writes about personal technology for ITworld. Learn more about Faas' published works and training and consulting services at www.ryanfaas.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanfaas.

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