I’m at The Big Money’s Untethered conference–an event about tablets and the future of publishing–in New York. One of the speakers this morning was Phil McKinney, CTO of HP’s Personal Systems Group. The Big Money’s James Ledbetter interviewed him about tablets, and he talked about the downsides of using existing operating systems for new types of devices. (He didn’t mention Windows explicitly, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t talking about OS/2.) He also extolled the virtues of WebOS, which HP will own assuming its acquisition of Palm goes through.
But he didn’t mention HP’s Windows-based “slate PC.” The one which was the single highest-profile product at CES in January, but which rumors in April (which I doubted at the time) said had been killed.
So when Q&A time came, I asked him about the state of that slate. He cheerfully refused to talk about unreleased slates at all until the Palm buyout was a done deal, and noted that his PR folks would be happy with him for remembering to stay mum.
Of course, refusing to talk about unreleased products is standard industry practice–except, of course, when companies do talk about unreleased products, which they do all the time. (Even Apple has done so occasionally–it preannounced the Apple TV as “iTV.”) And in the case of the Windows-based slate, HP has talked about it. A lot. Actually, back in March, I saw McKinney brandishing one at another New York publishing conference. And here’s a video HP released later that month:
So in the case of the Windows slate PC, HP has done something unusual: It’s gone from hyping a product to refusing to talk about it. And McKinney’s explanation that he can’t say anything until the Palm deal is official doesn’t explain everything. For one thing, an HP Windows slate and an HP WebOS slate aren’t mutually exclusive concepts: The company could make both. And the fact that the Palm acquisition is still a work in progress didn’t prevent McKinney from saying that HP does intend to make WebOS tablets.
I see only one possibility here: HP’s Windows slate PC is dead. Doesn’t mean that there won’t be some sort of Windows-powered HP tablet someday, but this one isn’t happening.