We just spoke with both Brian Humphries, HP's Senior VP of Strategy and Corporate Development, and Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein, and came away with a pretty positive picture for the future of Palm. The money quote is that HP plans to be "doubling down on webOS," and that was confirmed in speaking with Palm's honcho, who says that "that was the whole point." Not only that, but we've confirmed on both ends that Jon will be staying on with the company, along with much of the existing Palm hierarchy. There are plenty of transition details to work out, but Jon says there will be lots of time for all that during regulatory and shareholder approval. The word is that Palm's existing hardware roadmap is basically untouched at this point by this acquisition, but the good news on the HP end of things is that the company sees webOS as a "prized asset," and they intend to "scale it across multiple connected devices." That sounds like tablets to us, and HP didn't beat back that assumption. On the Palm hardware end, Jon is very fond of saying "scale," referring to the money and manufacturing resources at HP's disposal, but he also says that he sees Palm working hand in hand with HP on devices. One point that both companies were less clear on was the Palm branding itself -- you know, whether Palm will stay Palm. Both Brian and Jon said those kinds of details would be worked out as the acquisition went forward, but offered no concrete comment on it otherwise.
Money-wise we asked if Jon thought HP could provide the sort of "ammunition" to beat Apple, Google, and Microsoft at their own mobile game, and Jon says "I don't think HP would do this unless they were willing to make the kind of investment necessary to win." HP calls webOS a "compelling operating system," but that Palm didn't have the money to compete and "scale it across multiple form factors," and that it's exactly HP's financial wherewithal, brand, and corporate culture that it brings to the table. HP and Palm won't comment specifically on the forthcoming device roadmap, but HP did confirm that it had tested the platform "to make sure it scales." They keep saying "scale," but all we're hearing is "tablet."
Great news for Palm webOS users!