At a special event unveiling the future of its WebOS plans on Feb. 9, HP showed off the TouchPad, its answer to other tablets on the market, including Apple’s iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. For now, details about the device are sketchy, but it’s expected to be made available over the summer. Pricing is still unknown.
So far, critics, analysts, and HP lovers are excited to see what the company has planned for its tablet. They believe that its feature-set could totally change HP’s standing in the marketplace and cement its position as a go-to provider for tablets. They especially point to the updates HP has brought to WebOS, including the way in which users can move from one program to another to increase productivity while using the mobile operating system. For sure, it’s an interesting update.
But all the excitement surrounding the TouchPad seems extremely premature. The device could very well be a serious contender as a top iPad killer, but it might also be a loser. For now, it’s important to maintain a sense of reality.
So, read on to find out why some of the potential issues that the TouchPad will suffer from could be enough to dampen the excitement the market is feeling right now for HP’s tablet.
1. The apps problem
HP was quick to point out that the TouchPad will feature application support, which is extremely important to its chances of succeeding. But WebOS is still far behind Apple’s iOS operating system when it comes to available apps. And considering the popularity of the iPad, that isn’t likely to change any time in the next few months. If consumers are looking for the best selection of apps, the iPad will deliver that; HP’s TouchPad won’t.
2. There is a lot of time before it’s released
It’s rather odd that folks are so excited about a device that won’t even be available until the summer. In other words, it could be released any time between late June and early September–putting it at least four months away from consumers’ hands. Between now and then, quite a bit can happen. By September, the device could very well look obsolete as more products hit the market. Excitement makes sense a month or so away from a launch, not several months.
3. No one knows what the iPad 2 will offer
As customers continue to think that the HP TouchPad could be the device that will finally supplant the iPad as the top tablet, they seem to forget that Apple will almost undoubtedly launch the iPad 2 later this year. When it does so, it could feature many improvements, including front- and rear-facing cameras, along with a better display-all of which could put the TouchPad in the rear-view mirror. Remember:the TouchPad is competing against the iPad 2, not the iPad.
4. Android 3.0 Honeycomb shouldn’t be forgotten
Although WebOS running on the TouchPad will feature a slew of interesting features, including the aforementioned application-management solution, all the excitement over the tablet seems to forget that Android 3.0 Honeycomb could very well be the best mobile operating system to hit this year. That platform comes with a desktop-like browsing experience, thanks to Mobile Chrome, and will offer 3D capability. It also comes with an application bar for more productivity. Getting so excited about the TouchPad seems to sell Honeycomb short.
TouchPad Could Get Lost in Tablet Tidal Wave
5. The hardware design isn’t all that special
Admittedly, it’s rather difficult for companies in today’s tablet space to do something special with the design. By definition, their designs are dominated by a larger display. But with a 9.7-inch screen and a black bezel surrounding it, HP’s TouchPad seems awfully iPad-like. Whether that will help or hurt sales of the tablet remains to be seen. But some consumers would have undoubtedly liked to see a bit more innovative hardware design.
6. It’s running WebOS
As mentioned,the HP TouchPad is running WebOS. To current owners of the Palm Pre, that might not be such a problem. But to the vast majority of customers that are either using Android or iOS, it undoubtedly is. WebOS just doesn’t have the same market appeal as Google’s or Apple’s competing platforms. Trying to get customers to switch to that operating system when versions of their favored platforms are running on tablets could be a tall order. Simply put: HP might have to do more work than competitors do just to entice customers to opt for its tablet.
7. The display could be a liability
The HP TouchPad features a 9.7-inch display with 1024 x 768 resolution. If that sounds familiar, it’s because the iPad currently has the same size and resolution-and that could be a liability for HP.The upcoming Motorola Xoom features a 10.1-inch display with 1280 x 800 resolution. Many rumors suggest Apple will offer better resolution-and potentially its Retina Display-with the next version of the iPad 2. If that happens, HP could find its display behind its top two competitors.
8. The market will be inundated with competition
Why everyone is getting excited over a single device at this time is somewhat surprising. At the Consumer Electronics Show, in January, a number of companies, including LG, Vizio, and others, announced plans to offer tablets to customers in 2011. By the end of the year, the market could be flooded with devices, and the HP TouchPad is just another in the crowd. Unless HP can find a way to differentiate its product, it could get lost in the shuffle.
9. It hasn’t been put to the test
Excitement over a device is especially premature when folks have yet to even take it for a spin. At the event HP held on Feb. 9, the company let some people have a hands-on with the tablet, but actual reviews of the TouchPad and its functionality won’t happen for months from now. Some say that will only give HP time to improve its offering, which could be true. But until the final reviews are in and it’s nearly universally acclaimed, thinking the TouchPad could be a top iPad killer is premature.
10. It’s an HP Product
HP isn’t Apple. The company doesn’t have the same rapport with consumers that the Steve Jobs-led band has-and chances are it never will. Part of that is its own doing, especially in the mobile space, where HP has a checkered record. Its most recent announcement of the TouchPad seems to indicate that it wants to change that. But until it can prove that it deserves such respect, all the excitement should be tempered.