On July 1, Hewlett-Packard finally launched its long-awaited TouchPad tablet. The device, like the iPad 2, comes with a 9.7-inch display. However, it has HP's own webOS operating system running on it, making it one of the unique options in a market dominated by Apple's iOS platform and a glut of Android-based tablets. Aside from that, HP is offering models with storage options of 16GB and 32GB, which retail for $499 and $599, respectively.
With the TouchPad now on store shelves, consumers and enterprise customers have the chance to decide if that tablet or Apple's iPad 2 is a better purchase. For its part, HP has tried to distance its tablet from those comparisons, saying that it doesn't view the iPad 2 as a real competitor. But as a tablet maker, it should, since consumers and enterprise customers will undoubtedly compare the two platforms.
When they do so, they will quickly find that Apple's iPad 2 easily bests the HP TouchPad. On many levels, the iPad 2 delivers a more beneficial experience to any customer.
Read on to find out why:
1. App support
HP's TouchPad launches with support for the company's HP App Catalog, a marketplace for third-party applications. The only issue is, that App Catalog doesn't have anywhere near the number of apps available to the iPad 2, which at last count, stands at 90,000. Since many consumers want to extend the usability of their tablets with third-party apps and considering the TouchPad will likely never catch up to the iPad in terms of available programs, those seeking software enhancements will want to go for Apple's tablet.
HP's decision to price its 16GB TouchPad at $499 and the 32GB model at $599 surprised many industry observers. The TouchPad is coming into the tablet market as an underdog against an entrenched competitor. It would have made more sense if the company priced the TouchPad lower than the iPad 2, rather than in line with Apple's tablet for the same amount of storage. By charging the same price as the iPad 2 for the TouchPad, HP is leaving itself no advantage to capitalize on customers who are on a budget.
Apple's iPad 2 currently allows customers to connect to the Web via WiFi or 3G. HP's TouchPad, on the other hand, only offers WiFi connectivity. HP says that the 4G-capable TouchPad will be launching later this summer, but until then the company's tablet is at a major disadvantage. Tablets are mobile products, which means they need mobile connectivity. Leaving even 3G out of the TouchPad is a huge mistake on HP's part that will hurt its tablet's sales.
4. Where's the display lead?
One of the easiest ways for HP to best Apple's iPad 2 was through its display. Apple's tablet features a nice, big, 9.7-inch screen. However, it's facing off against competitors that have 10.1-inch displays. And as Apple CEO Steve Jobs himself has acknowledged, in the tablet market, big displays are important. However, rather than offer a 10.1-inch screen in its TouchPad, HP is delivering a 9.7-inch display. That makes the TouchPad seem awfully iPad-like, and when compared, it leaves HP with no advantage when it comes to the display. That could prove to hurt the tablet's sales.