NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- With word of an upcoming PalmPad, Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ - Get Report) shined a little daylight on its Palm plans and its response to Apple's ( AAPL - Get Report) iPad.

Speaking at Hewlett-Packard's analysts meeting Tuesday, personal device chief Todd Bradley said a tablet device called PalmPad is in the works and will run on Palm's WebOS software. The PalmPad will be available early next year through retail stores, according to analysts.
HP and Palm

Palm effectively vanished earlier this year when HP acquired the struggling phone maker for $1.2 billion.

Word of a PalmPad comes as more than a dozen tech sector players including giants like Dell ( DELL) gear up for a tablet sales boom. Apple's iPad has had the market to itself this year, but would-be rivals like Samsung's Galaxy, Research In Motion's ( RIMM) PlayBook and even Cisco's ( CSCO - Get Report) Cius will enter the ring in a big way next year.

As the no. 1 computer maker, HP's entry into the tablet market won't go unnoticed. Clearly the Palm WebOS-powered PalmPad will be among a variety of tablet type devices produced by HP. The company has dabbled in Google ( GOOG) Android tablets in its printer division and it will likely revive its Slate tablet effort using Microsoft's ( MSFT) Windows 7 system.

Addressing concerns that Palm was being neglected under HP, Bradley said 200 people have been hired since the Palm deal closed in July, according to Bloomberg. Bradley predicted that HP would hold 17% of the total tablet market in 2013.

Bradley expects big things to happen in the new tablet market. On Monday, in an interview with TechCrunch, he estimated that the total tablet market would grow to about $40 billion in a few years.

One major problem for HP investors: The rise of tablets comes at the sacrifice of PCs -- specifically netbooks and notebooks. These are two of HP's biggest growth segments.

The emerging tablet story is starting to sound a lot like the sequel to the netbook drama that cannibalized the PC industry just two years ago.

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.

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