It's official. HP will enter the tablet arena on July 1 with the TouchPad tablet. Will HP be able to succeed where other iPad rivals have fizzled?
The HP TouchPad is just the latest in a string of would-be iPad competitors which include tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom, and BlackBerry PlayBook. Despite beating the iPad on paper, and receiving relatively supportive reviews, these platforms have barely made a ripple in the tablet market.
In the five weeks following its initial launch, the Xoom shipped an estimated 250,000 units. The BlackBerry PlayBook was supposed to challenge the iPad 2 as well. Like the Xoom, the PlayBook sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 250,000 units its first month as well.
By contrast, the iPad 2 sold roughly 2.5 million units in about three weeks during March. That means that the two leading iPad rivals combined sold about 20 percent of the number of iPad 2s Apple shipped in less time.
Now, we get to see if HP's TouchPad can put a dent in Apple's dominance of the tablet market. The TouchPad is built on HP's webOS mobile platform--acquired by HP when it purchased the flailing Palm. webOS was widely hailed as a contender to rival iOS, but failed to live up to sales expectations. Despite being innovative, and a superior mobile platform to iOS in many ways, the webOS smartphone just never really caught on.
But, that failure is not necessarily an indictment of webOS itself. HP has invested a lot in webOS, and seems to be building the future of the company around the mobile platform--going so far as to declare that WebOS will even be integrated into the Windows PCs that HP produces.
"What makes HP TouchPad a compelling alternative to competing products is webOS," said Jon Rubinstein, senior vice president and general manager, Palm Global Business Unit, HP. "The platform's unmatched features and flexibility will continue to differentiate HP products from the rest of the market for both personal and professional use. This is only the beginning of what HP's scale can do with webOS."
The 9.7-inch, 1.6 pound TouchPad tablet sports a dual-core 1.2GHz SnapDragon processor, and a 1.3 megapixel camera. Hardware specs aren't where the tablet battle is won, though. What will determine whether or not the TouchPad can compete with the iPad 2 is webOS, and what kind of tablet experience HP can deliver with the updated, optimized webOS 3.0 platform.
The HP TouchPad will be available in the United States July 1. The 16GB Wi-Fi version will be $499, and the 32GB Wi-Fi version will be $599.