HP fires Microsoft?

Todd Bradley, HP executive vice president, and Jon Rubenstein, of Palm

One of the shockers at the HP event is that these two guys (Todd Bradley and Jon Rubenstein) fired Microsoft.

Whoa?

Well, they announced that the WebOS behind the TouchPad and other devices is being ported to laptops and other form factors.

Imagine telling me 10 years ago that HP would announce a family of products that aren’t running on Windows.

Whoa!

So, as soon as I got together with HP’s CTO, Phil McKinney, after the demos were over that’s what I asked about. His answers are telling.

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HP makes Google Android look even more creaky (and RIM, Nokia, Microsoft not in the game)

Jon Rubenstein introduces new HP TouchPad

HP’s Jon Rubenstein just showed off the HP TouchPad.

I’m so glad that I told my readers to wait before they bought a tablet until at least today.

What did HP just do?

1. Showed it can bring some innovations (especially in power charging and multitasking) that Apple hasn’t yet shipped.

2. Totally made the other, non-Apple, players on the board look lame.

3. Further weakened Microsoft’s stance in the marketplace. If you told me 10 years ago that HP would introduce a major new consumer product that’s not based on Windows I would have said you are totally crazy.

4. Made a major Apple fan (me) think twice about buying another iPad.

5. Helped keep Adobe Flash relevant. The movie they showed in Flash and games makes Apple’s anti-Flash stance look lamer than when just Google was pointing that out.

6. Showed off how to compete with Apple: have better cross-app communication. They showed how you could search or tweet all from one interface, which is quite nice.

So, where does the HP effort fall short?

1. Not many apps. That’s one reason it’s going to be hard to rip me away from the Apple ecosystem (I’ve now spent about $300 on apps). Plus, most new cool apps are coming out on iPad, not on Android or HP or RIM.

2. They are making us wait until summer to get one, with wifi, or later with 3G. In that time it’s expected that Apple will have iPad 2 out and we haven’t yet seen how Apple will refresh its OS to add some of the capabilities.

3. As of this moment they haven’t announced a price. If it’s less than $500 it will be a sizable winner, if more, we’ll quickly forget it like we are forgetting about the Motorola Xoom. I’ll update this post as soon as they introduce the price (within seconds).

Short? HP has a winner that other players MUST consider now. That is a major winner and, so, we must name this man a genius:

One on One with Phil McKinney

Who is he? Phil McKinney, HP’s CTO. He’s the one who spent three years building his own tablet, but decided it wasn’t good enough, so went and bought Palm.

UPDATE: I just interviewed Phil after the demos were done. He gave me some details behind HP’s purchase of Palm and plans to use Palm’s WebOS in other, laptop devices.

That looked like a strange decision at the time, but look at what it did for HP:

1. Put it on the innovator’s table.
2. Got it out from under Microsoft’s thumb.
3. Made HP cool again and made it something that RIM, Google, and Nokia needs to pay attention to (just when they thought they had figured out the game they were going to have to play in 2011).

Why do I say RIM isn’t in the game? They weren’t even the coolest tablet at CES (Motorola Xoom won that title) and app developers just aren’t taking them seriously. At least with HP’s effort they are betting big time on web apps, and their developer tools are easy to develop for and, even, loved by developers who have tried them. Microsoft? Sorry, not in the game at all. Neither is Nokia.

Congrats Phil and Jon. I can’t wait to get my hands on one.

Preview of HP launch today: smartphone so small it is cool

HP/Palm announcement

I really hated Palm’s devices the past couple of years. Why? I wrote I hated their small screens. I still do.

But recently I got a look at the smartphone that HP will be announcing in an hour and a half. More on that later today.

What is it? The smallest little phone I’ve ever seen. It’s like a large pebble in your hand. Smooth and really nice to hold.

This still sucks as a competitor for the iPhone or Android.

But they’ve made it so small now that the thing I hated (small screen, which isn’t good for really doing work) is now an attribute.

Why?

Because I could see owning this as a second phone. A “date” phone.

Why?

Because it’s so small it helps me keep my online addiction at bay. But it still lets me tweet or look at the web in an emergency.

It’s fashionable.

It’s cute.

Women are gonna love it.

People who don’t want to look like a geek on their nights out will love it.

That’s the “small” thing HP/Palm is announcing today. I’ll get you some video and photos.

Congrats to HP/Palm on turning around my objection to your crappy small screens and making that a real product attribute.

That’s what they mean in the announcement by “small.” The “big” is their 10-inch tablet. I haven’t seen that or the services that will power all these things. More later today.

I got that image over on the Everything Pre website. Watch that and Techmeme for more.