HP is readying the first webOS smartphone to ditch the physical keyboard in favor of a touchscreen-only form factor, according to photos leaked to Palm enthusiast blog PreCentral. And, in a separate leak, the upcoming Pre 3 world phone” will purportedly launch on the Verizon Wireless network first. HP has the opportunity now to make webOS into a contender, but key to that will be carrier partnerships, marketing and smart form-factor development all aspects for which these leaks provide very interesting insight.
The leaked photo shows a sleek smartphone apparently code-named Stingray” that has a front-facing camera and a 480X800 screen resolution.
The device would be a departure from the hybrid niche that the Pre has been carving out for itself to date. The original Palm Pre offered both types of keyboards the better to cast a wide net when it comes to users. Business users used to BlackBerry devices enjoy a physical keyboard, while savvy consumers prefer the tech-wow factor of a touchscreen. Since HP purchased Palm earlier in 2010, it has continued the theme, with the HP Pre 2 and upcoming HP Pre 3 both combining a physical QWERTY keyboard with a touchscreen.
Speaking of the Pre 3, a tipster also told PreCentral and supplied photos to the effect that the phone will operate on the Verizon network. If thats the case, the phone a dual-mode GSM/CDMA world phone will follow the existing Pre 2 to the carrier.
webOS devices have had a long and winding road. After generating early buzz when Palm announced its revamped operating system, the first devices to run webOS the Palm Pre and the Palm Pixi came to Sprint-Nextel Corp. last year in a move that was widely seen to have the potential to supercharge both companies mobile standing. For Palm, the Pre line was a last-ditch effort to salvage its once-dominate place in the mobile data realm by dragging itself into the smartphone future. The Palm Pilot, after all, remains synonymous with the term “PDA.” As for Sprint, it was looking for a hot device to help combat the iPhone-wielding AT&T, and the Droid-happy Verizon. When the Pre failed to take off the way the companies hoped, Palm was sold to HP and Sprint turned its attention to the Evo.