HP Wields WebOS Against Apple

PALO ALTO, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- Verizon ( VZ) and Apple ( AAPL) were not the only companies making waves in the mobile device market last week. HP ( HPQ) showed off a slew of new devices at a launch event in San Francisco, upping the ante in its battle with heavily entrenched rivals such as Motorola ( MMI) and Apple.

HP's event marked the eagerly-awaited debut of its TouchPad tablet, which runs WebOS software from the company's $1.2 billion Palm acquisition. The tech giant also unveiled two WebOS smartphones,, the Pre3 and the Veer.

The stakes for the new WebOS products are extremely high. The tablet market continues to be dominated by Apple's iPad, while HP's pre-Palm attempts to tap the smartphone market barely registered a ripple.

"It's easy to be skeptical as HP enters the tablet market with its own operating system (Palm) and a relatively limited developer community," wrote Jayson Noland, an analyst at Robert W. Baird, in a recent note. "That said, we walked out of HP's webOS launch event incrementally positive on its ability to draw developers, build an ecosystem, and ultimately generate user demand."

Read on for more details on HP's new tablet and smartphone offerings.

TouchPad Tablet

The first HP tablet based on Palm's software, the TouchPad contains a 1.2-Ghz Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm ( QCOM) and has already earned favorable comparisons to Motorola's Xoom.

Unlike the iPad, the TouchPad offers support for Adobe's ( ADBE) Flash Player, and also comes with a front-facing Web camera that can be used for video calling.

HP is also exploiting the multitasking capabilities of Palm's WebOS, an area where Apple lagged until the launch of iOS 4.0 last year. WebOS uses a "card-based system," which lets users quickly scroll though applications, and can also stack multiple apps, capabilities which HP demoed on the TouchPad to rave reviews last week.

The TouchPad is not HP's first foray into the tablet market, and the tech bellwether is playing catch up to Apple, which has built up a massive lead over its rival. The consumer tech giant has already sold more than 14.77 million iPads, and is expected to sell almost double that number in 2011.

In addition to Apple's iPad, the TouchPad will also be competing with a host of Google ( GOOG) Android tablets from the likes of Dell ( DELL) and Toshiba.

Pre3 Phone

Also powered by WebOS, the Pre3 is cast as a business smartphone. With a 3.58-inch touchscreen and a slide-out keyboard, HP describes the device as the "ideal smartphone for multitasking professionals."

The Pre3 also contains a 1.4-Ghz Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm, making it the fastest Pre device on the market from HP/Palm.

HP also unveiled the latest version of its Touchstone software last week, which lets users pass information between a Touchpad and the Pre3. URLs can be shared between the two devices by tapping them together, according to the tech giant, which means that users can start reading a blog or a Web site on the TouchPad and continue their reading on the Pre3.

Available during their summer, the Pre3 will nonetheless face stiff competition from Apple's iPhone 5, which is expected to debut during the same time frame.

Veer Phone

The smallest WebOS phone on the market, the Veer is the size of a credit card and no thicker than a pack of cards, according to HP. Offering a touchscreen and a slide-out keyboard, the device is said to fit easily into a pocket or purse.

Weighing just 103 grams, the Veer is powered by an 800-Mhz Qualcomm processor, and has a 2.57 inch display. HP says that the device also has access to thousands of WebOS apps, highlighting its desire to raise the profile of Palm's acclaimed mobile OS.

The big challenge for HP, however, will be its ability to woo developers away from Apple's iOS and Google's increasingly popular Android operating system, although Robert W. Baird analyst Noland thinks that the company's broad technology reach could boost WebOS.

"HP is obviously lacking the sheer application breadth of Apple iOS and Google Android, though porting WebOS over to the notebook and printer portfolio should go a long way in attracting talented developers and ultimately meaningful carrier relationships," he said.

The Veer will be available in the early spring.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/jamesjrogers.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

If you liked this article you might like

Cramer: There's More to Tech Than FAANG

Cramer: There's More to Tech Than FAANG

Western Digital Stock Could Soar Another 27%

Western Digital Stock Could Soar Another 27%

Mixed Messages Mangle Markets: Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap (Thursday 3/15/18)

Mixed Messages Mangle Markets: Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap (Thursday 3/15/18)

Alibaba Pops on Possible China Listing; Cyber Security Deal Buzz Ramps -- ICYMI

Alibaba Pops on Possible China Listing; Cyber Security Deal Buzz Ramps -- ICYMI

Tariffs Won't Sink Us: Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap (Monday 3/5/18)

Tariffs Won't Sink Us: Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap (Monday 3/5/18)