Hewlett-Packard has been saying for quite some time now that it has big plans for the tablet space. And earlier this year, it took the first step in proving that with the announcement of its TouchPad tablet. The device will include the company’s new WebOS platform, a 9.7-inch display and several other features that HP says will make it a force to be reckoned with in the tablet market.
Of course, Apple fans who currently enjoy running their iPads disagree. They see HP as yet another in a long line of companies that doesn’t understand what today’s tablet buyer is after. As a result, they believe in no uncertain terms that the TouchPad will die an early death as it tries and fails to compete with their beloved iPad.
However, those folks might be wrong. There are undoubtedly several devices in the tablet space that won’t be able to match the iPad 2. But the TouchPad might prove to be different. In fact, the TouchPad might just be Apple’s top competitor in the mobile market when it launches over the summer.
Read on to find out why:
1. HP understands the value of hardware design
Though it might have taken it too long to get there,HP eventually realized the value of a good hardware design in the computing space after Apple’s MacBooks started flying off store shelves. Now, HP’s laptops are among some of the better-designed PCs on the market. Building upon that, HP has delivered an appealing design with the 9.7-inch TouchPad. The device has a nice, black bezel, it’s thin and lightweight, and it appears to have the kind of design points that consumers are looking for in a tablet design. That alone gives it an advantage over uglier competitors.
2. HP controls software design
The secret to Apple’s success has been control over its mobile operating system, iOS. Other companies, like Motorola and Samsung, have been using Google’s Android. HP is a different story. Like Apple, the tech giant has its own, unique operating system that it controls, WebOS, which it acquired in its buyout of Palm. That should help it deliver more unique features and offer updates more quickly than tablet makers that rely upon Android. WebOS could prove to be central to the TouchPad competing well against the iPad 2.
3. PC plans are important
HP has also said it plans to bring WebOS to its line of PCs. Considering the company sells millions of PCs every year, that simple addition could prove integral to its ability to compete against Apple in the tablet market. After all, if consumers and enterprise customers try out WebOS on a laptop and like what they find, they might be far more willing to buy a tablet running the operating system.Bringing WebOS to PCs is a smart move on HP’s part.
4. The device has the must-have big display
Part of the reason for Apple’s success in the tablet market has been the iPad’s big, 9.7-inch display. Too many other companies, like Samsung and Dell, have delivered devices with small, 7-inch screens that fail to deliver an experience that consumers want. HP has gone with a 9.7-inch screen of its own in the TouchPad. It might not be a major addition, but it at least removes one advantage Apple has enjoyed against many of its other competitors.
HP Puts Its PC Experience to Work
5. The HP brand will help
Like Apple, HP has become a well-respected brand in the technology industry. IT decision-makers are deploying HP machines in their organizations because of their reliability and affordability. Employees who like using those devicesbuy HP machines for their own home use. HP is a highly regarded brand in the computing market, and that should help it as it attempts to take on Apple in the tablet space.
6. The enterprise will listen
As mentioned, HP has a strong presence in the enterprise. And although the TouchPad is a more consumer-focused option than, say, the RIM BlackBerry PlayBook, WebOS isn’t necessarily a bad option for companies that don’t want iOS and are looking to stay away from RIM’s alternative. According to HP, WebOS will ship with full multitasking support, a full browser with Flash and HTML5 support, and perhaps most importantly for enterprise customers, unique integration with HP’s smartphones. With the TouchPad and HP Pre 3 in-hand, users can tap the two devices together and share content between them. There’s a convenience factor there that enterprise users especially like.
7. HP’s market share matters
When one considers the popularity of Apple’s current competitors in the tablet space, including Motorola and Samsung, they don’t have the same market appeal in the computing space as HP. Although some debate whether a tablet can be considered a fully functional personal computer, consumers are increasingly debating whether to buy a new, lightweight PC or a tablet. Considering this factor as well as HP’s dominance in the PC space, the company shouldn’t have much trouble persuading customers to buy these highly compact, thin and lightweight tablets. HP’s overall PC success should translate well into tablet success. And after all, HP is hardly new to the tablet space. It has been selling tablets for years for specialized applications.
8. Developers will support it
As Apple pointed out at the unveiling of the iPad 2 earlier this year, it’s currently leading the way quite handily when it comes to application support in the tablet market. Android-based devices are still lagging far behind. But HP might not have as much trouble catching up to Apple’s App Store as some might think. As noted, HP plans to bring WebOS to PCs and other devices. That means the operating system will have a huge installed base. And with a huge installed base comes developers. After all, app development is a money-making business. And the best way to make money is to bring programs to as many customers as possible. HP should be able to deliver an awfully appealing market for developers to capitalize on.
9. It has the cash to invest
According to HP’s latest balance sheet, it has nearly $13 billion in cash on hand. That gives it more than enough cash to do what it wants in the tablet market. So, if that means the TouchPad isn’t cutting it, no one should be surprised if the company tries again shortly thereafter with something better. If it feels it needs to acquire another firm to get it right, HP can afford to do it. The more cash a company has, the better its chances of taking on Apple, another company that’s flush with capital.
10. The timing is perfect
Some companies that are competing against Apple have been timing their product launches all wrong. Motorola launched its Xoom before the iPad 2 hit store shelves. The RIM BlackBerry PlayBook came out too soon after the iPad 2 launch. HP, on the other hand, isplanning the perfect launch time for the TouchPad. During the summer, the iPad 2’s allure has worn off a bit. Plus, the iPad 3’s launch will still be months away. The timing on the TouchPad’s launch is perfect. That should help it compete well against Apple.