Live from D9: HP CEO Leo Apotheker takes the stage

D9's rolling right along here in California, and HP's head honcho is on deck. With the Pre 3 and TouchPad just around the bend (right?), we're hoping to hear some pretty potent stuff surrounding the next iteration of webOS. Of course, we could be in for a solid hour of printer and blade server discussion. Either way, we'll be making the most of it. Join us after the break as we follow it live, won't you?

3:14PM Definitely ended on somewhat of a boring note, but hey, at least we know that Nokia handsets still have a chance to run webOS! Oh, wait...

In all seriousness, thanks for tuning in -- we'll be back later today with Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky and Nokia's Steven Elop!

3:13PM Leo: "It's not a big secret that HP wants to move more into software. We can disrupt established players with different business models in software. We'll be much bigger here, and you should see our margin profile becoming better than in the past."

3:13PM Leo: "HP's financial are actually pretty solid. Outperformed in Q2, generated more than $700b of free cash flow, grew our bottom line and gross margin, and our commercial business grew by eight percent. Our software performance was a lot better than in the past (up by 17 percent, while licenses grew by 28 - 29 percent). What's affecting our market cap is the fact that we need to do a lot of work in services -- that was stifled in the previous administration. Ouch, Hurd!

3:10PM Question: If I were HTC, and I came to you and wanted to make a webOS phone, what would you say?"

Leo: "We'd certainly have that conversation." Wild! Really wild! One has to wonder if that's just because there's no better way to get webOS traction at this point, or if a similar company has already approached HP asking for licensing permissions.

3:09PM Leo: "It's a great OS -- why wouldn't we want to offer it to other companies? Why wouldn't they want to use webOS? Appliance makers could use it to connect up normal home devices. We'd like to make webOS available to these people -- enterprises, SMBs, etc. Yes, webOS will be more than just a system that runs inside an HP product."

3:08PM Question about licensing webOS to partners -- does that put you in direct competition with Microsoft? Is this your vision? For another hardware maker to adopt webOS for their devices?

3:08PM Lance from just asked about lessons learned from the launch of the PlayBook.

Leo: "We will not release a product that isn't perfect." That's literally all he said.

3:06PM Walt points out just how odd that statement was. Leo just said that 100 percent of their PCs now use Windows, and in five years, it probably won't be unheard of. Bizarre.

3:06PM Leo: "It's a prediction that's very hard to make, but I don't believe that Windows will fade into irrelevance." Ha, yeah -- we're guessing Steve Jobs doesn't either. Nor Elmo.

3:05PM Leo: "We're number one in the server market." That's an odd response to a question about percentages of Windows-based PCs and webOS-based PCs in the future.

3:04PM Leo: "We're talking to companies about using webOS on their hardware. webOS is going to be adopted by many of our partners who provide services to SMBs, so there's a new third channel that's opening up for us."

3:03PM Leo was asked about getting webOS onto other manufacturers.

3:03PM Questions from the floor incoming!

3:03PM Leo: "Let's bear in mind that developers need an OS where there's traction. If you add our printers and our PCs, we're talking about 110m devices a year from HP." Something tells us that math isn't going to fly well with those already making ends meet on the Android Market and the App Store...

3:02PM Leo's saying that Palm couldn't make the great OS stick due to a lack of reach and distribution, things that are needed to create traction. He's saying that webOS is user-friendly to a whole new degree, and it's the only one in the market with bona fide multitasking.

3:01PM Walt: "I think iOS and Android are fairly similar looking. webOS is really quite different." Leo agrees, shocker!

3:00PM Leo: "We've got to first become number three, then get the coverage, get established globally, and then we'll go for the roses."

3:00PM Leo: "We're doing some good work, and when the TouchPad comes out, you'll see that we've gained some traction. But it's not about taking Apple head-on, it's about becoming the third alternative. Once we get there, the race is wide open, and we have to create an experience that's on par with or superior to Apple's experience."

2:59PM Walt's getting into the discussion of webOS development, asking Leo if he's in a race for "number three" behind Android and iOS. Good stuff will surely ensue.

2:58PM Leo: "I actually worry most about the people I don't yet know about. Those up-and-comers are what keep me awake at night." Smart man, smart man.

2:57PM Leo's confessing that HP competes with... pretty much everyone. He says that he "worries" about all of them. So Walt's now asking which he cars about "the most," and Leo says: "it depends on the day."

2:56PM Leo: "Tablets aren't for everyone. You still need larger machines to handle heavy-duty tasks."

Walt: "Now you aren't just making Microsoft nervous, but Intel!"

Leo: "Just stating a fact." And that, is that.

2:55PM Walt: "Are we going to see the laptop looking [dramatically] different than it looks now?"

Leo: "You'll see users demand different form factors." Kind of dodging the question, or maybe he just wasn't interested in it to begin with.

2:54PM Leo just agreed with Walt that the tablet market "is an iPad market." Poor TouchPad.

2:54PM Leo: "Let's talk about the PC industry a bit. It's changing rapidly -- just look at the ability to run Windows on ARM. With ARM, there's all new capabilities that'll open up, and new chances to innovate. Over the next three to four years, you'll see a whole new set of form factors coming out." Man, we'd love to see *those* mockups!

2:53PM Leo's making it crystal clear that Microsoft and HP are great partners, and that they don't plan to stop shipping Windows-based PCs even with an urge to get webOS out there. Sounds like a very intelligent decision, though Walt seems a bit flabbergasted by it all.

2:51PM Leo's trying to point out the obvous synergies between enterprise and consumer, with consumers able to bring their consumer handsets to work and have them operate sans fuss. Okay, we can dig that.

2:50PM Walt: "You sound a lot more like Apple now with the end-to-end solution."

Leo: "I sure hope so! You'll see a completely different HP emerge over the next three to four years."

2:50PM Leo just clarified that webOS will only be on every printer about $100. Super detailed printer talk. Crazy invigorating.

2:49PM Leo: "In the beginning, webOS on PC will sit atop Windows. One thing I've learned in this job is to never say never. The intention is to get webOS on every PC and printer we ship." Here goes the printer talk, seriously. It's happening.

2:48PM Evidently these "sheltered" employees don't have to subject themselves to the typical HP workspace. The TouchPad's still "on schedule" for a summer release... or about six months after it would've mattered. FOF.

2:47PM Leo: "The one thing I regret is that HP and Palm didn't take these products to market more quickly. I've tried to shelter these products from the 'bureaucracy,' though I don't really believe we have one. Laughs.

2:46PM Leo's giving the pitch of why webOS is the "best mobile OS out there." Not like we need any convincing that it's good!

2:46PM Walt: "You've got a pretty end-to-end setup. Is that what you're going for in the consumer realm?"

Leo: "Yes, yes we are, and we want to do the same in enterprise." Need some devs to believe you, Leo!

2:45PM Walt: "You went out and bought an operating system -- one that I think is very good -- but it was developed by a company lacking money. The good part is you have money, retail, engineers, and the ability to run a marketing campaign. The bad news is that you're a big bureaucracy. I'm curious about... what are your plans for webOS? It's on phones, it's going to be on tablets, and you're now in possession of an Apple-like situation."

2:44PM Walt: "Let's talk about webOS for a minute." Yes, let's!

2:43PM Leo: "We need to be in the cloud business." At this point, saying "cloud" is just about meaningless. But hey, we appreciate the gratuitous use of buzzwords.

2:42PM These two are knee-deep in enterprise talk. Seems like that "printer" guess wasn't too far off. Stay focused, guys!

2:41PM Walt: While speaking about changes in the enterprise, he talks about folks wanting to use their own phones. "I like my Android phone, I like my iPhone..."

Leo: "...I like my webOS phone!"

Walt: "Well, those aren't prevalent yet." Truth hurts, eh?

2:39PM Leo: "I think that's a good ratio -- we're very proud of being a big brand. There's a consumerization of IT. All of these things are driving change in the enterprise, and that's yet another advantage that HP has since we're both; we can capture innovation on the consumer side and bring it into the enterprise." Sounds awesome in theory, but we're guessing it's a lot less clear in practice.

2:38PM Leo: 26 percent of our business is consumer; all the rest is "non-consumer."

2:37PM HP's trying to be at the center of just about everything -- mobility, security, the works. He's suggesting that having "all of these capabilities" gives the company a distinct advantage when it comes to serving customers.

2:37PM Walt started off by asking Leo how his first few months at HP has been. Laughs from the crowd. Shaking it off like a pro, Leo smiles and admits that things have been great. One has to wonder what "great" means in this particular case...

2:35PM Leo's out! His opening line? HP's not just the world's largest PC company, it's the world's largest technology company. Bold!