In a word: printers.  When Hewlett-Packard announced a few weeks ago that it was buying Palm, every tech writer in the world, including yours truly, speculated this was about HP's desire to get serious about smartphones and get an iPad competitor out there in the market place.

Without a doubt, Palm's WebOS will soon be coming to a HP mobile device near you (including a tablet of some sort). But who knew? Apparantly, HP's plan also includes using Palm's WebOS in printers. In case you're wondering, this comes directly from the horse's mouth. HP's CEO Mark Hurd revealed the new strategy over an earnings call this week.

Interesting! (And I do mean it in the same way my second mama, ZC, means it - as in interesting with eyebrows in the upright position).

I should have seen this one coming. HP declared a few years back it wants to be the official printer of the Internet. At the time, I thought that wasn't very eco-friendly of them, as in shouldn't we be getting people away from killing trees?

About a year ago, HP came out with its first printer that connects directly to the Internet (meaning no need to fire up a PC and use its connection). HP's vision; that people will print their theater tickets, metered postage labels, etc. right off the printer and again directly from the Internet. Handy!

Downloading such items onto our PCs and then printing them off at home or in the office is not new. What is new, again, is not needing the PC to do it.

Now imagine how handy it would be to have Palm's WebOS loaded on that printer with a moviefone app, a FedEx app, an Intuit app for invoices, an American Airlines app for boarding passes, etc. making hard copies available with literally the touch of a couple of buttons (there's the touchscreen part, by the way)?

I could see this being especially handy for home office workers and small businesses.

HP could be on to something. But if all else fails, no worries. They stlll have a pretty decent operating system for their own line of mobile devices.