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"It's a marathon, and this is only the beginning." -Leo Apotheker, Fortune Interview

Sometimes to get a better understanding of what HP plans on doing with webOS, you have to take what they offer as a whole, rather than focusing on the one or two devices that they've released since acquiring Palm last year. At least, that's what Leo Apotheker would have us believe as we look towards the inevitable releases this Summer, and whatever announcements they might make the second half of this year.

In his interview with Fortune Magazine Editor, Adam Lashinsky, Leo didn't just talk aboout PCs running webOS, but laid out a plan for webOS devices that he hopes will ease any worries from curious onlookers. But you'll have to jump over the break to catch the full run-down of what he had to say, and the accompanying video, if you want to know more.

If you were unsure whether HP was taking the Palm products and webOS seriously when compared to Google and Apple, Leo's statements should give you some solid ground to stand on while we wait. When asked specifically why HP is not at a huge disadvantage after being nearly a year behind the competition with device capabilities, and even further behind in market-share, he put it pretty bluntly in return; "Because we happen to be the world's largest PC maker and we happen to be the world's largest printer maker." It is HP's strength in those devices that he says gives proof to the potential they have in creating a self-sustaining webOS ecosystem for both enterprise customers and your every-day consumers. 

But what about Smartphones? With Apple and Google pulling further ahead in that market every day, where does HP's strength in PCs and printers come to play with the growing market of mobile devices? If Mark Hurd made a slip of the toungue last year when saying that HP was not buying Palm to get into the smartphone game, Apotheker has made a much more comfortable (but similar) statement this time. The smartphone is only one player in the game that he believes is still having the rules written - "connected devices" are where the concept of smartphones will inevitably lead, and HP is the first company to push so heavily beyond smartphones and into the connected future.

He listed two very interesting "connected devices" (along with smartphones, PCs and tablets) while explaining what the future of webOS looks like: TVs and home appliances. Is he saying that HP will win in smartphones because they plan on offering webOS-powered toasters? Perhaps that's stretching his comment a bit, but it doesn't seem that far-fetched once you begin looking at it. Not only will we be able to control our printers using a webOS smartphone from the other side of the world, but we may soon see this same interactivity with our TVs while we're on our way home, or our security system while on vacation, or maybe even our fridge as it reminds us to buy milk while we're out.

Again, that might be stretching things a bit, but the idea remains. HP has already beat Apple once to become to world's largest PC and printer maker in the world, even after Apple was the first major player in the market of personal computers, and it will beat them again to become the world's largest maker of "connected devices", even as Apple (and now Google) dominates the market of mobile devices. You can only keep making the "best" smartphone or tablet for so long before the masses start looking for something else. HP is betting on being that better "something else" before anyone else can.

While Apple and Google are going after your "every-day consumer", HP is going after the "pro-sumer" (professional consumer). They don't just want to create devices for the enterprise, or for the home, but for both worlds. As Apotheker says, that includes not just the devices they'll be releasing this summer, but also the "ensemble of devices that will follow" in the second half of 2011 and forward. By the way it sounds, we may also be seeing a wide range of devices announced at the same time as the releases this summer. 

If that's the case, we may be coming close to the end of days when you hear people say "HP releases devices too seldomly to beat the competition." That's something we're all looking forward to, yea?