Hewlett-Packard whipped back the curtain Feb. 9 on a new family of devices it hopes will not only compete against Apple's iPad and iPhone, but begin fulfilling new CEO Leo Apotheker's mission of making the company "cool."
The centerpiece of HP's San Francisco presentation, the 9.7-inch TouchPad, will hit store shelves this summer at an undisclosed price. As with the two smartphones introduced alongside it, the TouchPad utilizes the webOS operating system, part of the assets inherited during HP's $1.2 billion purchase of Palm last summer.
The TouchPad weighs 1.5 pounds, offers either 16GB or 32GB of built-in memory, and is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, faster than many of the tablets currently scheduled to hit the market. As with other tablets, the TouchPad is being marketed as an all-in-one device, capable of running apps and games, displaying e-books and periodicals, and Web-cruising with Adobe Flash 10.1 and HTML5 support.
The TouchPad will also boast integration with smartphones running webOS, along with video calling. HP executives at the conference also demonstrated HP's two new webOS smartphones, the Pre 3 and the Veer. The latter is an ultra-slim device with a rounded shape reminiscent of the original Palm Pre, and equipped with a 2.6-inch touch-screen. Despite that size, it includes some full-size features including a 5-megapixel camera and 8GB of built-in memory.
The Pre 3 is heavily reminiscent of the Palm Pre, with a 3.6-inch screen, sliding QWERTY keyboard and a notably powerful 1.4GHz Qualcomm processor. HP plans on offering the device in HSPA+ and EVDO.
Although the acquisition of Palm and integration of webOS began before Apotheker stepped in as CEO, the new devices play into his assertion that HP needs to figure out ways to appeal to consumers. "I hope one day people will say -this is as cool as HP,' not -as cool as Apple,'" he told the BBC earlier in February.
The TouchPad faces a dynamic and competitive marketplace for tablets. In addition to the Apple iPad, which continues its massive sales run, a number of HP rivals seem intent on flooding the market with Android-based tablets such as the Dell Streak 7 and Motorola Xoom. Unlike Apple or Google, however, HP faces the additional challenge of building a substantial apps ecosystem, in order to compete with the Apple's App Store and Google's Android Marketplace. The latter two online bazaars each feature hundreds of thousands of apps.