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When HP announced that it was buying Palm (news, site), everyone wondered when and what it would do to recoup some of the US$ 1.2bn it paid for the ailing smartphone maker. On Friday, we will get the first look at Palm WebOS v2.0 as the operating system of the Palm Pre 2 handset.

New Smartphone, New Features, New Goodies

Going by the HP (news, site) announcement earlier this week, the new smartphone will come with a whole list of new features including a favourites option for tagging contacts, Skype-to-Skype support for calls and messaging from the US to anywhere in the world, the redesigned Palm App Catalog and a whole pile of goodies for developers.

Other features include a beta of Adobe Flash Player 10.1 in the browser, giving users access to rich, Flash-based web content, as well as an exhibition feature that turns on automatically when the phone is in the dock and enables users to access apps designed specifically for the Palm.

Palm Pre 2.jpg

Palm Pre 2

HP, WebOS and Palm Pre 2

Needless to say, HP has been talking up a storm around the launch, particularly around the first public outing of Web OS 2.0 which, with incremental upgrades, will probably carry it into future editions of the Palm Pre or some other ‘must-have Palm phone.

That said, Palm Pre 2 is quite an attractive little number that should have universal appeal, even though Palm has tried marketing to women. The Palm Pre 2 portal says that this new version has a 3.1-inch multitouch display, a black enclosure, exchange support, built-in GPS, ambient light/proximity sensors, WiFi, Bluetooth, 16GB of inbuilt storage space and a long lasting battery, good for 5.5 hours of talking.

With this, HP says, it’s going to be a lot easier to get a lot more things done.

With WebOS 2.0, we’re advancing the innovations we introduced 16 months ago [and] expanding the features that make WebOS great . . .we’re taking our biggest leap forward with powerful new features that make it easier to get more things done . . . ,” said Jon Rubinstein, of Palm Global Business Unit, HP.

While France will be the first to get their hands on it, HP says it will be available in the US and Canada in the coming months, but doesn’t say whether that will be before Christmas or not. Existing customers will get an update to WebOS at some point in the future, but again, no exact date has been announced.

HP’s Mobile Ambitions

WebOS has been good and bad for Palm. By the time it had developed and released WebOS last year, it was clear that it had fallen behind Apple and other rivals in this space, with revenues coming in well below expectations and a buy-out needed to ensure its survival.

At the time the HP deal was signed-off, HP outlined their plans in the mobility market, which have been apparent for some time, but confirmed during the time of the acquisition announcement.

The smartphone market is large, profitable and rapidly growing, and companies that can provide an integrated device and experience command a higher share …Advances in mobility are offering significant opportunities, and HP intends to be a leader in this market,” it said.

Bradley indicated that WebOS is a key element in its bid to be the biggest. The combination of HP’s global scale and financial strength with Palm’s WebOS platform will enhance HP’s ability to participate more aggressively in the fast-growing, highly profitable smartphone and connected mobile device markets.