HP Promises New Tablet, Could It Be Windows 8?

HP says a non-webOS tablet is on its way, and the PC business will only spin off if it makes it stronger

Hewlett-Packard will launch new tablets in future, despite cancelling the webOS-based TouchPad, and is evaluating Windows 8 for the purpose, executives have said.

HP was being tightlipped about its tablet plans at the Canalys Channel Forum in Barcelona, but executive vice president Ann Livermore assured the conference that HP would only sell off the PC business – a prospect announced by former CEO Leo Apotheker in August – if it made the division stronger.

‘Uncertainty is bad’

“If we decide to spin off PSG [HP’s personal systems group], it will only be because we believe it will be even stronger,” said Livermore. The company is analysing this very carefully, and is trying to accelerate that process because, she said, “uncertainty is bad”.

The uncertainty began, and HP’s share price fell, when Apotheker announced the possibility of the spin-off, at the same time as revealing that the company’s webOS phones and tablets would be cancelled, and HP would buy Autonomy for $10 billion.

Announcing the possibilty of a deal may have looked bad, but was the only thing to do, said Livermore (pictured). “We chose to announce it, because we were getting input from too many people to keep it confidential.”

Even if the business is spun off, it will still have strong links, and HP will keep its channel focus, she assured the audience of IT channel companies. “No other company does a higher percentage of its business in the channel,” she said.

Her mention of the tablet was tantalising, merely assuring the audience that HP would have a product in that space. Earlier in the day, speaking to eWEEK Europe, Andre Bodson, vice president of the commercial channel, for the personal systems group, was a little more forthcoming.

“We will still have tablet solutions,” said Bodson. “Our charter is to make connected devices for mobile and secure access.” Given the withdrawal of the webOS line, the only options seem to be Android, or to wait for Windows 8, but Bodson would not be drawn on which way it would go.

“We are evaluating Windows 8, but it is a few months away,” he said.