Thursday, June 9, 2011

HP Rolls Out webOS-Powered Tablet in Two Versions

A webOS-powered tablet will be offered by Hewlett-Packard next month. The HP Touchpad with Wi-Fi offers true multitasking and two versions for $499.99 and $599.99. HP plans to launch a connected version of the TouchPad with AT&T later this summer. But to compete with Apple's iPad, HP needs to offer a mobile-app ecosystem.

In the shadow of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference this week, Hewlett-Packard is looking to get some early attention for its new tablet Relevant Products/Services. HP has announced that the Wi-Fi version of its HP Touchpad will hit U.S. stores on July 1.

The Touchpad is HP's first webOS-powered tablet. HP acquired the webOS mobile Relevant Products/Services operating system when it snapped up Palm last year. The tablet will sell with either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage Relevant Products/Services for $499.99 and $599.99, respectively. Pre-orders in North America and Europe will begin June 19.

"What makes HP TouchPad a compelling alternative to competing products is webOS," said Jon Rubinstein, senior vice president and general manager of HP's Palm business Relevant Products/Services unit. A former Apple executive, Rubinstein is convinced that webOS will help differentiate HP's products for both consumers and business users. He hinted at more webOS devices to come, presumably a smartphone Relevant Products/Services, since the TouchPad is pictured with a smartphone on the company's web site.

Is There an App for That?

With webOS, HP TouchPad users can tap into a true multitasking experience, access Relevant Products/Services to the web, get audio playback with stereo speakers and Beats Audio technology, and find information on the tablet or in the cloud Relevant Products/Services using a feature called Just Type.

The device Relevant Products/Services also offers integrated access to the user's information with HP Synergy, and HP's exclusive Touch to Share capability for sharing web addresses between HP TouchPad and compatible webOS phones. HP plans to partner with AT&T to introduce a connected version of HP TouchPad later this summer.

"This sounds interesting. Those are price points that are going to compete with the iPad Relevant Products/Services, which I'm sure didn't go past HP when they were setting the price," said Michael Disabato, managing vice president of Network and Telecom at Gartner Relevant Products/Services. "So my question is going to be what is the developer ecosystem for webOS? What happened to all the developers Palm used to have? Did they get all those developers back? What apps Relevant Products/Services can I buy? Apple came out and had a whole infrastructure Relevant Products/Services that was supporting the platform."

Better Than Slate?

No one expects the HP TouchPad to rattle the market dominance of Apple's iPad, but could HP do better with webOS than it did with its first attempt at a tablet? HP rolled out the Slate last October to an unimpressed market. The device sold for $799.

When HP first marketed the Slate, it launched an attack against Apple with a message that promised no watered-down Internet and no sacrifices. The iPad competitor, for example, offered Adobe Flash where Apple CEO Steve Jobs has shunned Adobe. This time around, even with a strong webOS to power Relevant Products/Services the TouchPad, HP isn't trying to push Apple's buttons.

"I saw a Slate in action and it looked pretty good to me. Microsoft has an app ecosystem," Disabato said. "You can go put Office on it, you can put a number of applications on it. You can make it usable. It's not the hardware Relevant Products/Services anymore. And it's not just about the operating system. You have to have apps that run on the tablet. HP should have waited."

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