Rumor: HP planning 7-inch Touchpad

HP hasn’t even released is first entry into the tablet market and it’s already sparking new rumors.

The 9.7-inch Touchpad, which will introduce yet another new operating system into the increasingly muddled tablet market, is due to hit stores on Friday.

But HP apparently isn’t going to just sit around and wait to see if the Touchpad is a success. The Taiwan Economic News is reporting that HP has already begun ordering new panel displays for what would likely be a smaller, 7-inch version of the device.

In this still-nascent product category, it seems two markets have emerged – one for full-size, two-hands-required tablets like the iPad, and one for more compact devices, like the Blackberry Playbook, that users can operate with just one hand.

Some companies, like Samsung, have introduced multiple tablet models to cater to both of these groups, and now HP is going to try that strategy.

The Touchpad will be powered by WebOS, the operating system introduced in January 2009, which was acquired and updated by HP when it bought Palm.

That means it’s a brand new mobile OS to compete with Android and iOS. It is a daunting task for sure, but HP has the connections to gain support for the platform.

“We love the TouchPad and the webOS platform for game development,” said Fearless Studios CTO Cedrick Collomb in an HP press release.

The Touchpad is slated for release on July 1.