HP is buying Palm for $5.70 a share, or roughly $1.2 billion. Does this mean we can expect HP netbooks and tablets running webOS sooner rather than later? Sure would beat Windows 7 starter, wouldn't it?

Says Todd Bradley, executive vice president, Personal Systems Group, HP:

“Palm’s innovative operating system provides an ideal platform to expand HP’s mobility strategy and create a unique HP experience spanning multiple mobile connected devices. And, Palm possesses significant IP assets and has a highly skilled team. 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.”

Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein was also quoted:

“We’re thrilled by HP’s vote of confidence in Palm’s technological leadership, which delivered Palm webOS and iconic products such as the Palm Pre. HP’s longstanding culture of innovation, scale and global operating resources make it the perfect partner to rapidly accelerate the growth of webOS. We look forward to working with HP to continue to deliver industry-leading mobile experiences to our customers and business partners.”

The question remains, webOS or no, can HP fix the hardware and carrier issues that have plagued Palm since their re-invention, and can they do it fast enough for it to matter?

PreCentral.net is covering the Palm/HP merger story as it develops and will be following the conference call starting at 5pm. Head on over there for more...