HP Just Sold a Bunch of iPads

HP touchpad

HP TouchPad - WebOS Slate

Life isn’t fair. We all know that. Or at least we should. For Tablet makers you could argue that it is not just unfair, but cruel and unusual punishment. Apple has such an long lead in terms of its iPad in so many categories, it is almost like they need to need to somehow prohibit Apple from selling the damn things before they have a chance. Wait a minute. I think Samsung tried and failed at that.

There are two things at play here. First, everyone trying to play the game is so anxious, and I hope so passionate, about what they have created that they seem to have developed collective blind spots as to what the iPad offers. Second, gadget bloggers and reviewers are doing what comes naturally and writing their reviews comparing new Tablets like HP’s TouchPad with point for point comparisons to the iPad. You can say that is unfair. You’d probably be right. But it is what it is.

In reading over a list of reviews this morning the biggest conclusion I can draw is that HP just unwittingly sold a bunch of iPads. The reviewers pretty much unanimously have said that this first webOS Tablet doesn’t stack up or can’t  be recommended by comparison. But HP, like others, had its own hand on the trigger of the gun pointed at its foot. When, I ask, when will we see a new Tablet released with “coming soon” not listed as a feature, or an apology for missing features? Good grief, folks. We’ve gotten to a point with these incomplete feature releases where it sounds like a broken record. Emphasis on broken.

We’ve listed a round up of the reviews that you can read yourself. What we won’t do, but probably should do, is list a round up of reviews of previous reviews of products from RIM, Samsung, Motorola, and others and show just how similar these reviews are. If some of these folks weren’t writing these reviews of the different products, you might think someone was doing some plagiarizing the similarities are so blatant. I won’t even begin to talk about how many of these reviews waste space on the obvious “the lack of Apps.”

But, lay the blame or responsibility where it belongs. HP seems to have followed the other Tablet wannabe’s right into the same trap. They pulled that trigger and now are going to have to start their eagerly anticipated leg of the race limping instead of running. Yeah, yeah, I know it is still early. But, I have to say, given the large bet HP has placed on their webOS venture, the only one counting chips at the moment is Apple. Heck, even Microsoft is probably feeling like it has a second (third? fourth? fifth?) chance.

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    This is why I think MS has a chance to succeed here… I think the fact that all Windows 8 machines will support the new start screen and immersive apps opens the door for developers to flock to this new interface and app environment.  Say what you want to about Windows phone but MS got developers on board really fast and didn’t release WP7 with weak app support… If they can do the same for W8 then they have chance to really excel here.

    The problem with the tablet form factor right now is the OS.  Too many companies are trying to be “me too” with the iPad.  Android had the benefit of AT&T having exclusive rights to the iPhone so Android turned into the only real alternative.  I think given the option to have an iPhone a few years ago on Verizon Android wouldn’t have gotten off the ground at all.  Tablets don’t have this carrier lock in like phones do… until someone can make a tablet with decent 3rd party app support right from the get go there will be iPads and everything else… shoot even the first gen iPad is better than most of these devices that are coming to market right now.

    • Michael Anderson says

      Given how MS handled Windows Phone 7 (i.e. it will be 1 year old before it gets its launch list in order) … my confidence in them is extremely low in the mobile space.

      • Robin Ashe says

        Microsoft got the right things in first. Multitasking isn’t that crucial (it’s useful, but not crucial), the same can be said for copy & paste – in fact I liked iOS better without it. I’ve never once needed to use copy & paste on my iPod touch, but several times I’ve had it come up unwanted. What Microsoft did with Windows Phone is get the UI right first. That’s something that’s going to be hard to change later on. Feature parity is easy to solve, as is shown by the massive updates in Mango.

        • Michael Anderson says

          I call ‘revisionist history’!  ;)

          MS was clear on what it would deliver, and then cut back on the features in ‘stealth mode’ or at the 11th hour.  In some cases they said that the stuff would be there within 90 days that will finally be arriving after 1 year.

          WP7 has been pretty universally recognized as under-performing on all fronts.  The fact that NOT A SINGLE PATCH has been anything but a nightmare simply confirms that things are not all-good at MS Mobile.

  2. JeffGr says

    I think everyone really needs to stop looking for new devices to be a substantial iPad challenger right out of the gate.  The iPad has at least a year’s head start and no new tablet is going to have a chance to compete with it in terms of polish or developer support. at least for a while.   Yes, pretty much every TouchPad reviewer has said that they can’t currently recommend it over the iPad, but I sincerely doubt that there are very many people that are debating between the two, which leads me to believe that the shortcomings of the TouchPad probably aren’t going to sell many iPads to people that wouldn’t have bought them anyway.

    Right now, the main market for the TouchPad (as well as the Playbook and the various Android tablets) is all of the people that have decided for one reason or another that an iPad doesn’t fit their needs.  The vast majority of the TouchPad reviews have been saying that it is the best of the iPad challengers or at least close to the top.  That suggests that it has a pretty good chance at getting some traction.  By the second (or even third) generation model, it could then start to get serious consideration from people that might have otherwise bought an iPad. 

    Obviously, a big question mark is how big a market that really is, but I do think it is a reasonable gamble on HP’s part since these types of tablets are still fairly new.  Even the iPad’s strong sales are massively dwarfed by the sales of laptops or cell phones, suggesting that there could be a pretty large number of potential customers out there that aren’t being served by the current models.

    I can actually speak from my own personal perspective a bit here.  On the same day a couple weeks ago, I pre-ordered a TouchPad for myself and purchased an iPad 2 for my wife.  My wife has been an iPhone and Mac user for several years and is pretty solidly satisfied with the Apple ecosystem.  When we decided that a tablet could be very useful for her (mainly because she is taking our son to a lot of activities where she has to sit and wait), there really wasn’t any reason to consider anything other than the iPad for her. 

    In my case, there were a few specific reasons why the iPad was not as good a fit.  For starters, the iPhone has never been the right choice for me (I really prefer a physical keyboard on a phone), so I haven’t yet entered that ecosystem.  In fact, I’ve been using a Palm Pre for a year and a half, so I’m already familiar with the strengths of WebOS and prefer it enough that I expect to get a Pre 3 when it becomes available.  I expect to use a tablet more for productivity activities (note-taking, email, blogging, PDF/document reader, etc.) than for games and video, so the weakness of the iOS multitasking implementation was a big turnoff.  I also am pretty turned off by Apple’s obstinate refusal to support Flash, particularly since that would prevent me from accessing a large percentage of the sites produced by the company that I work for.

    While reading the reviews of the TouchPad have me a bit apprehensive about some of the performance issues and bugs, I also recognize that those are pretty sure to be fixed rather quickly.  Other items like the form factor and limited app catalog are hardly surprises and are issues that I have already considered and dismissed as relatively unimportant to me.  When I look past those issues, the reviews do generally all seem to be agreeing that the advantages over the iPad that attracted me to the TouchPad really are there.  I suspect that both I and my wife are ending up with the tablets that best fit our needs. 

    • Josh Einstein says

      That’s not gonna cut it. When Microsoft was “the” tablet, they had no competition and the product stagnated and suffered from a lack of innovation, marketing, and buzz. When Apple got involved, it changed everything. Could it compare with Windows in terms of capabilities? No way. The first iPad had no camera, few apps, no multitasking, and no support for pen/ink input. But it had some major innovations and advantages. The weight, cost, beauty, etc. We were willing to look past all the problems because the benefits outweighed the drawbacks.

      But these other devices coming out offer nothing over the iPad. Nothing! So of course they will be compared point by point to the iPad. If tablet makers need more time to catch up to iPad, that’s fine but they better have something freakin awesome right out of the gate to make up for it.

      And RIM not shipping an email client? They are a joke that should never be mentioned in a blog again.

      • JeffGr says

        Other tablets offer “nothing” over the iPad?  So the iPad does Flash now?  How about full, user-controlled multitasking?  Is Apple now providing open support for homebrew applications instead of claiming that they violate terms of use?  Out of the box, does the iPad now easily aggregate calendars, contacts, photos, and messaging services from a wide variety of providers? 

        The iPad is a very nice tablet with some definite advantages, particularly in terms of polish and 3rd party application support.  It isn’t perfect, though, and will not necessarily meet the needs of every potential customer.  There is plenty of room for others to create alternatives that address those weaknesses. 

    • Robin Ashe says

      I think you’re right that a lot of people have decided they don’t want an iPad for various reasons, and are looking for alternatives. I’m one of them. My big issue with the iPad is its resolution. If it had 1280 horizontal pixels instead of 1024, I don’t think I could find a reason not to get it. Unfortunately, the TouchPad doesn’t solve that for me. It also brings in some problems with build quality – it has some of the same unfinished qualities that the Pre had, which makes me unconfident in the build quality. That’s hard to get around. In the case of the Eee Pad Transformer, I like the hardware, but Honeycomb underwhelms, so if it weren’t for the announcement that a Windows 8 Eee Pad Transformer 2 were around the corner, I’d consider getting one and holding out for the software to mature.

      All the competitors to the iPad also need to avoid having reasons to not get their tablet either. The PlayBook has the lack of built in email client. The TouchPad has poor build quality. The Honeycomb tablets have… Honeycomb, at least there once HC gets better there’s less to worry about.

  3. SteveB says

    The only real competitor to the iPhone and iPad is Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8. Every other OS including Android and me-too clones. Kudos to MS for doing something different.

    • Robin Ashe says

      Android is a definite competitor. Archos has been in the PMP market for a long time, so they’ve got a track record for build quality, now all that has to come is features – which they’re bringing in with the G9 internet tablets, the 7c Home Tablet, and their upcoming Arnova tablets. When you’ve got an option to for ~$150 get an 8″ Android with a 1.2GHz Cortex A8 CPU and capacitive touch screen, Android seems like a mighty good option. Hell, the G9 comes in with a Dual Core OMAP4 at 1.5GHz for $350. With Android there’s always the race to the bottom – it’s competing well on the app front, and it has the necessary features as well – web browsing mainly – that make it a strong iPad competitor at that price. And naturally as more cheap Android tablets are released, the ecosystem grows and high end Android tablets have better value.

  4. Anonymous says

    It’s not the hardware, it’s the ecosystem. Apple gives you an easy way to sync contacts, appointments, music, video, podcasts and more. There are 100,000 apps designed for the iPad and many more that run on both the iPad and the iPhone, and many of the apps are free. None of these other companies have integrated all of these components into a system that just works. It may not be perfect, but the iPad really doesn’t have any competition, yet. If you want to write your own apps, they make it pretty easy to be a developer and give you a free development system. They also do a good job of protecting people against rogue apps. There may be specific reasons why someone might prefer an HP tablet or a Motorola tablet over the iPad, but most people prefer the iPad. Aside from all the other reasons, price is a factor. Nearly everyone is trying to match the iPad’s price. But, if someone gave you a choice of a Toyota Corolla or a BMW 535 for the same price, you are probably going to go with the BMW. I think that Apple caught the market by surprise and they may have some real competition in the future. Maybe it will even be HP. But, for now, these other companies have some catching up to do.

  5. FMW says

    I am with you here. I don’t think any new tablet has a good chance of beating the iPad by trying to be like the iPad. IMHO, the way to beat the iPad has to be by offering (in a similar form factor, which we now know sells well and one that Apple did not invent) those features that the iPad does not offer. Even though I agree Flash is one of those, I would not say that is the critical one. Two jump to mind: 

    (1) INKING, this would be great and even though there are some half baked solutions out there (I am using the cutting-edge on my iPad with Penultimate and the Bamboo Stylus; it sucks compared to what I can do with my 5 year old Tablet PC). 

    (2) ACCESS TO THE HARD DRIVE: what better way to make a device “personal” that by allowing one to organize/copy/paste/delete/add files on the device’s hard drive? Again, iPad don’t do (out of the box).

    Had HP (or any other of the vendors) come up with a Touchpad that did these two things (I am sure this list of non-existing features is much larger), then they could have a winner.

    I don’t think the the “trying to out-iPad the iPad” approach is going to work. If you see the way other smartphones are competing (and beating) the iPhone is by offering different and distinct features. No tables are doing that now.

    And the current incarnation of Windows (7/Vista/XP) won’t cut it. We already know that. These most recent efforts (Acer EP121, Fujitsu Q550, and HP’s own Slate 500) won’t become mainstream competitors. Perhaps Windows 8? Only if they really offer a distinct alternative.

  6. Quentin Dewolf says

    I still think that the biggest issue consumers are asking is “I bought a laptop and a smartphone why do i want a tablet again?” the reason apple got traction is purely a marketing issue. You can argue about the feature details but that is splitting hairs not market defining. Microsoft did not get traction because it cannot suppport escitement products like apple. I have been using windows tablets since the HP TC and they are full of “features” that go way beyond an ipad(possilby thousands of more apps, support for every format of media known to man, “does work” even engineering and media production).
    If the economy sorts out this summer and the world is full of disposable income agin then the tablet (Gadget) market will take off for android and the other players. Microsoft could make the bid for windows tablets as full replacements for laptops.

    • Mokhtar Joundi says

      No, it’s not a purely marketing issue. It’s because Apple actually realized that you need to develop an OS from the group up made for a tablet, not just slap on a desktop OS, add a touchscreen and call it a day- which is what those other manufacturers did. Of course, their massive headstart and brand mindshare doesn’t hurt either. 

  7. Dale Strauss says

    Warner is right on this one. I just returned my latest adventure, an HTC Flyer – better than most, but the inking experience is vintage N-Trig: skips, vectoring, poor ink quality, no smoothing. I know I told Sumo I thought we were finally on to something, but extended trying. and trying, and trying a non-starter. So that means Slate 500, Nook Color (Froyo and Honeycomb), Galaxy Tab, and now HTC Flyer have all bit the dust. Makes me rue the day I started this adventure by selling my iPad 1 for the Slate – there’s a reason Apple has run away with the market, and why I’m going back to an iPad 2 .

  8. Chris says

    I’ve used all of these tablets.. None come close to the ipad. The OS, the ease of use, construction, and available software etc.. Is vastly superior. All of the other devices are poor comparitively. Flash? Does anyone really care? Do you miss popup windows and animated banners? Maybe you cant play a flash game or see flash only website. Or maybe view flash embedded videos like your favorite porn site… (thats probably why people are upset that flash isnt supported) I hope some device comes along that offers something new and interesting rather than try to copy what apple has done.

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