If you were to turn back the calendar eighteen months, you would find yourself in March 2011. It was a heady time for the webOS community. The Pre3, Veer, and TouchPad had been announced just a month earlier, but none of the three were yet available to the public. So while we waited, the head honchos of HP were out in full force, touting the upcoming webOS tablet (and occasionally mentioning the smartphones too). HP recognized that they needed a tablet, a 'post-PC' device, if you will, not just to compete with Apple's iPad, but to have something ready for when HP's computer business wasn't what people wanted anymore.'
One of those HP honchos was none other than Todd Bradley, then the Executive Vice President in charge of the computer-making and webOS Global Business Unit-containing Personal Systems Group. Bradley had experience in mobile, having been CEO of PalmOne back in the day. As such, his word carried weight, and at least publicly he was all-in on webOS. Said Bradley at one point, "We're totally focused on the tablet market; totally focused on enabling that with webOS".
But if you were to replay that quote for Mr. Bradley today (now head of the merged Printing and Personal Systems division), he'd likely scoff. In an interview with PCWorld this week, Bradley responded to a question about technology being in the 'post-PC era' as such: "Look, it’s just wrong. Just think of the decision when your child is going off to college. What’s a requirement? A PC. Or you run a business and need your employees to be productive. You need a PC. The size of the global PC business is huge, and I think some people are trying to be dramatic. That said, there is a growing role for tablets, and we will absolutely be a significant force in that space."
With all that tablets are capable of these days, it's actually perfectly conceivable for somebody to replace their personal computer with a tablet. It's not for everybody, at least not yet, but more and more people are making that switch. A generation is growing up today where tablets will be considered by and large the only computer that they need when they hit the age where they can buy their own computing devices. The 'post-PC era' doesn't completely obviate the PC, but it is on a downward trend, and HP was right to buy Palm to help set themselves up for the future. You know, a future where HP stays committed to their multi-billion investment and doesn't dump it when things don't go as awesomely as you'd hoped.
As for HP's position in the "growing role for tablets", they've got their new Mobility Global Business Unit and an upcoming Windows 8 tablet. Oh, and Open webOS too, not that you'd know it if you talked to anybody outside of the webOS GBU.
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