“Why Should Anyone Buy the HP TouchPad Instead of the iPad?”

By  |  Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 11:05 pm

My review of HP’s TouchPad is up over at TIME.com. My take is pretty much the same one as the consensus of the crowd that’s published reviews tonight: very nice interface, aging hardware (even though it’s a brand new device), too many bugs, and too few apps. And definitely not as good as the iPad 2.

Last week, I blogged that for the time being, every new tablet introduction is about one fundamental question: “Why should somebody buy this instead of the iPad.” If the TouchPad doesn’t take off–at least without significant software updates–it’ll be because it failed to provide a coherent answer. And that raises a whole bunch of other questions.

Is the form factor a fatal flaw?

Like I said in my review it kind of screams “I was designed before the iPad 2 came out.” It’s strikingly chunkier and heavier than that tablet and its Android doppelganger, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1. But the TouchPad isn’t unpleasant to hold or look at, and I don’t think its relative bulk is a crippling issue all by itself. Think of it this way: if the TouchPad were as thin and light as the iPad 2–or even a wee bit thinner and lighter–it wouldn’t be getting raves. And if the iPad 2 were exactly as thick and heavy as the TouchPad, it would still be very, very successful.

How about the bugginess?

Huge problem. Huge problem that’s eerily reminiscent of issues with Motorola’s Xoom and BlackBerry’s PlayBook, both of which shipped with glitchy software. If a tablet misbehaves as much as the TouchPad does, it doesn’t really matter how good it is in other respects. And it’s a bigger issue with tablets than with most devices: we’re used to PCs being horribly unreliably, but the iPad, whatever you think of it otherwise, is uncannily reliable. The good news: at least HP has a chance to make the TouchPad much better through a software update.

Should the TouchPad have been less like the iPad? I mean, it has the same screen and seems to cater to the same audience.

I like the TouchPad’s screen. I don’t think it’s the only size that will work for a tablet, but it’s a good one, and I’ve come to the conclusion that tablets don’t want widescreens. (They’re too skinny in portrait orientation.) Again, try to envision reviews of the TouchPad if it were a different size. They’d be no more favorable.

Is there anything about the TouchPad that flirts with providing an argument for buying it over the iPad?

Well, it’s not the hardware or the app selection. But WebOS’s user interface remains excellent; preferring it to the iPad is entirely rational. But HP just lost the opportunity to come out with a generally pleasing WebOS tablet well before Apple starts selling iOS 5 iPads and other companies have Android Ice Cream Sandwich ones.

Does the TouchPad’s thin collection of apps doom it?

If so, that’s a sad thing to contemplate, since every tablet based on a new platform is going to debut with a thin collection of apps. I’d hate to think that even trying to come up with new platforms was pointless. But I don’t think it is. If a platform has everything else going for it, developers will come. (Remember when there were scarcely any Android apps?) And WebOS wouldn’t need hundreds of thousands of programs to do just fine.

Was HP just too late?

Gosh, I don’t think so. I hope not. I’d hoped that HP was making a smart move by not rushing the TouchPad out the door; having used it, I now think it should have moved even more slowly. David Pogue’s sentiments about the TouchPad are mostly similar to mine, except that he calls it “very late.” I happen to think that we’re still very early in the history of smartphones, which would mean that the tablet industry is a mere newborn.

So what should HP do next?

Fix the TouchPad’s bugs. Round up some big-name apps. Move quickly to release a next-generation TouchPad. Put WebOS on more devices. Be patient. Repeat.

What are the chances that someone will come up with–well, not an iPad killer, but another tablet which just about everyone acknowledges is both very nice and quite successful?

Very high, I think. At this point, though, I’m coming to the conclusion that it may take awhile, and it won’t be any tablet that smacks of first-generationalism. Some company will accomplish it on its second try. Or maybe its third. Right?

 
38 Comments


Read more: , ,

38 Comments For This Post

  1. JJ5J Says:

    Ok. So Touchpad is bleh and there's plenty of room for tablets in the future. But what exactly does this mean?

    "But HP just lost the opportunity to come out with a generally pleasing WebOS tablet well before Apple starts selling iOS 5 iPads and other companies have Android Ice Cream Sandwich ones."

  2. Mike Cerm Says:

    I know a LOT of people who will absolutely, positively, NEVER buy an Apple product. Some of them, justifiably, hate iTunes. Whatever the case, there is a real need for an iPad alternative. For most people, a Touchpad would be a MUCH better choice than any of the Honeycomb tablets on the market, simply because Android is such an impenetrable mess.

    HP should forget about competing with Apple for a little while, and pick a fight that they can win. They already have a better product than Google, they just need to convince users and developers of that fact.

  3. Alexander Says:

    I just wonder, why couldn't they debug the software before shipping? Looks like buggy software is the norm for just everyone in the computer industry but Apple. If so, they will find it difficult competing with Apple.

  4. AlfieJr Says:

    until the competitors can offer a real and substantial "ecosystem" of other fully integrated and desirable hardware, software, and cloud products that Just Works, no, there will not be any other successful tablets, period. it's not just the missing app catalogue. its huge ecosystem is Apple's huge strength, from iPod to AppleTV, from iLife to iCloud, from third party accessories to OS X Lion.

    Google has the best communication ecosystem, which is why Android smartphones succeeded. but tablets are not primarily communication devices. they are about doing stuff and consuming stuff.

    this is why so far there is not tablet market, just an iPad market.

  5. Andy Says:

    WebOS 3.0 is a brand new edition of HP's operating system on a brand new form factor. Up until now, all WebOS devices have been Palm phones and nothing larger. Despite how well they program and test it, there will be a few hiccups in the beginning. Also keep in mind that HP hasn't had the same multimedia experience as Apple, who have been in the business of it since 2000. As mentioned in an earlier article, Apple does well in this department because they know — from years of experience — what works. Companies just entering the market do not have the same knowledge because they lack experience in this department. On top of that, there's the mammoth task of attempting to topple the gigantic market share of Apple.

  6. David Says:

    Here is, I think, the problem. Those hardcore people you mention are few. Look at the success of the iPod and iPhone. And those hardcore people *aren't* buying anything else. Look at the sales numbers of all the other tablets.

    What you seem to have is a group of anti-Apple people who basically dislike Apple more than they like anything else. So they won't buy Apple and they won't buy anything else. Not a group to build a business around.

    I would rather go after the people who aren't ideologues, but are instead pragmatic. And those are the people wolfing up iPads and ignoring other tablets.

  7. Mike Cerm Says:

    Hardcore anti-Apple people are buying things. Some are still on Blackberry, some are buying Windows phones, but most are buying Android phones.

    The vast majority of people (who already own phones and laptops), aren't buying tablets at all. Any tablets. Most people don't understand why they would need an in-between device like a tablet, nor are they willing to spend $500 (which is more than the average cost of a new computer) on something they don't think they need.

    Meanwhile, the anti-Apple people who would like a tablet aren't buying anything because, until very recently, there hasn't been anything to buy. Now that there kind of is, maybe they'll jump.

  8. David Says:

    Obviously, hardcore anti-Apple people are not literally buying nothing, but it's been over a year since the iPad, we now have a lot of choice and the numbers aren't there.

    Apple as sold over 25 million and no one else is given sales numbers, only shipping numbers. I read plenty of anti-Apple people praising the both Tabs, the Xoom, and the Playbook as well as Honeycomb in general, yet the sales aren't there.

    So, either there aren't a lot of anti-Apple people out there and they are saturated on existing products or the anti-Apple market is simply too small to notice and makes a awful target like I said.

    By your logic, the vast majority of people aren't buying smartphones. Yet Apple managed to find not only more than 25 million people, but they sell all they can make. Why? Most people don't care about making statements and those are the people buying iPads.

    The hardcore people make statements, but don't write checks.

  9. movies g Says:

    I'm planning to get a tablet. I'm definitely leaning to buy the Ipad over the HP TouchPad

  10. Guest Says:

    I have both and unforntunately, as much as i like webos the touchpad comes up way short on apps…I knew this going in but the problem is I can use my ipad to remote into work and get stuff done. The touchpad just isn't there yet. Mine was not as buggy as the reviews…it worked fine. The screen does not get as bright as the Ipad. It seems more dull and dim even at full brightness…I found myself wanting to make it sharper. I think it is a good tablet…it is just hard to compare any tablet to the Ipad at this point in terms of function.

  11. roby Says:

    Ouch! Dull, dim, not sharp, few apps–and that's the most positive comment about the Touch Pad!

    I'm one of those old Palm diehards who would have tried one (even a Palm Pre cell phone) had they used their old, wonderfully designed PIM programs. 10-15 years later and even Apple can't match them!

    At this point, though, there's no choice, no question at all which is the better, smarter, more useful, and more fun buy!

  12. iPhone gloves Says:

    Dear friends.I invite you to visit my website for news and tips about outdoor digital accessories.Here are two links for best iPhone gloves and latest touch screen gloves
    Just go and have a look.

  13. Ted Summs Says:

    It’s very hard to see any OS catching on outside of iOS on the iPad or Android on other tablets. Even Windows is falling far to far behind. The number and quality of apps for the operating system is absolutely critical so that potential customers feel they have a decent enough range to choose from. iOS has about 100k iPad optimised apps, Android has about 1k but lots of potential and Windows has pretty much no apps optimised for a tablet but many developers who would get things moving when the right tablet gets delivered. Windows also has the advantage of desktop apps that work (albeit not optimised) on a tablet. WebOS needs a tablet that performs fantastically so people buy it in big enough numbers to make it worthwhile for developers to focus on putting apps together. So far the TouchPad hasn’t got anyone excited due to the bugs. Hopefully updates and new models will change this otherwise it will quickly disappear.

  14. Mlatko Radic Says:

    Holy mother of God, you should’ve named this article:
    “Why iPad should anyone iPad buy the HP iPad TouchPad instead of iPad the iPad iPad iPad iPad iPad iPad iPad iPad?”

  15. Pete O. Says:

    Well, I own the Touchpad, and I love it. WebOS is such a joy to use even despite the occasional lagginess (yes, I'll admit it is there), which was actually almost completely eliminated after tweaking things after installing Preware. That's one of the cool things about webOS: The open source community is there and actually encouraged by the hardware/software makers.

    I don't think the TP is anything like the iPad at all, save for the way it looks. What a lot of people don't consider, journalists included, is that having so many apps isn't really such a necessity when you have a browser that is so capable. Why do I need an app for this or that when I can just bookmark or create a launcher shortcut for the actual site and get full functionality out of it. The OS and overall multitasking functionality of the TP are so much more satisfying. Yes,

    I just hope that people start to realize that not everyone wants an iPad. Its functionality just doesn't agree with the way some people like to work. The only area I feel that the Touchpad might not ever be able to compete with Apple is in gaming. There is definitely a place for a webOS tablet in an iPad world, though. Hopefully HP will make continue to tweak its design to make a tablet that fully utilizes the incredibly elegant OS.

  16. Jason Says:

    It's the price, stupid.

  17. Tablet Geek Says:

    HP PC department dramatically slashed prices on 16Gb and 32Gb (99$ and 149$) WiFi models of TouchPad few days ago. Aparently tablet will be discontinued or sold to other manufacturer.

  18. Eric Says:

    What a great read, I'm really glad that I stumbled upon this.
    Indianapolis chiropractor

  19. Cure Fungus Toenail Says:

    Ipad is still the king of tablets, and HP is no longer around. I don't see the Ipad having a real competitor in this field cure toenail fungus

  20. Gregg E. Says:

    The seeds of the end of the TouchPad, and the rest of WebOS were sown when Palm pulled a stupid by selling off Palm OS to Access and splitting the company into hardware and software divisions.

    What brainiac at Palm thought it would be a great idea to have to pay another company to use their own operating system? Then they did something even dumber, they didn't upgrade to Palm OS 6. That quashed the market for non-Palm companies licensing Palm OS for PDAs and SmartPhones.

    If Palm OS 6 wasn't good enough for frigging PALM, why would anyone else making Palm compatible products want it?

    With the Palm platform stuck at 5.x, iOS and Android and Blackberry and even Windows Mobile/WinCE got started or advanced to new releases.

    The "big daddy" Palm tied their own shoelaces together and fell flat. Going to Palm OS 6 and developing a new generation of devices to run it, and aggressively marketing to 3rd party vendors, would have brought in more revenue. But instead they allowed the Palm market to stagnate and also dabbled with *gasp* Windows Mobile on some of the Treo line.

    Palm OS 6, keeping ownership of the OS, new hardware and never, ever even considering Windows mobile would have provided the income and just as important the time to develop Web OS. Of course one more element to success would NOT be making the goof RIM has done – announcing the new version 7.0 OS and simultaneously announcing it's the end of the line while they change to an all new OS.

    Hasn't anyone learned from SEGA's screwup with the Dreamcast?!? "Look at our all new spiffy console! By the way, it has no future and you're wasting your money because we're going to stop making consoles after the Dreamcast.". So the vast majority of consumers said "Oh. Okay. I'll buy the Playstation 2 instead.".

    Introducing a new product and simultaneously announcing its demise is nearly always the worst business blunder possible.

    The last years of Palm are a case study in how NOT to run a company, or how to take a successful company and run it into the ground.

    HP *could* have made Web OS work, but they failed miserably. All we got from them was slightly updated versions of the Pre and Pixi, the Veer (which was a turn in totally the wrong direction for smartphones) and the simultaneously too late and too early TouchPad. HP also kicked a large chunk of their user base to the curb when they pulled the plug on the Palm OS 5 emulator for Web OS. One quite significant group of people still relying on Palm OS are doctors and others in the medical field. There are some very popular medical programs that run only on Palm OS and those users loved their Palm Pre phones because they could run the OS 5 emulator to use their medical apps on an up to date phone. Web OS 2.0 was a nasty shock to them so they had to dig out their old Palms or buy used ones to replace the ones they'd dumped.

    Some big business screwups only become visible in hindsight, but nothing Palm and then HP did to blunder in this saga was invisible, most of should have been blindingly obvious "Do this and you are doomed!". So they did it and now it's the end.

    Go buy an iPhone or Android phone, or even a crackberry. The one that successfully started the PDA and SmartPhone revolution (Palm) is dead of self inflicted wounds.

    Of course Apple had the first tablet that could be called a PDA, but Steve Jobs killed it. Dumb mistake. Could've had all the $$$$ Palm made in its early years and the whole iPod/Phone/Pad deal would be quite different. (The PDA is dead! Long live the iPDA! aka iPod Touch)

  21. Prix des Timbres Says:

    Prix des Timbres
    Cheers on a great post, I've bookmarked and I look forward to future postings.

  22. jibran Says:

    It has been seen for a couple of years that liver disease is spreading a lot.I think the main thing is the level of fats increases inside the body which will effect the lever. العاب تلبيس

  23. TomPeris Says:

    Hardcore anti-Apple people are buying things. Some are still on Blackberry, some are buying Windows phones, but most are buying Android phones.

    The vast majority of people (who already own phones and laptops), aren't buying tablets at all. Any tablets. Most people don't understand why they would need an in-between device like a tablet, nor are they willing to spend $500 (which is more than the average cost of a new computer) on something they don't think they need.

    Meanwhile, the anti-Apple people who would like a tablet aren't buying anything because, until very recently, there hasn't been anything to buy. Now that there kind of is, maybe they'll jump.
    bascula

  24. TomPeris Says:

    Hardcore anti-Apple people are buying things. Some are still on Blackberry, some are buying Windows phones, but most are buying Android phones.

    The vast majority of people (who already own phones and laptops), aren't buying tablets at all. Any tablets. Most people don't understand why they would need an in-between device like a tablet, nor are they willing to spend $500 (which is more than the average cost of a new computer) on something they don't think they need.

    Meanwhile, the anti-Apple people who would like a tablet aren't buying anything because, until very recently, there hasn't been anything to buy. Now that there kind of is, maybe they'll jump

    Girls Beauty Parties | Immigration Lawyer Denver Colorado

  25. TomPeris Says:

    Hardcore anti-Apple people are buying things. Some are still on Blackberry, some are buying Windows phones, but most are buying Android phones.

    The vast majority of people (who already own phones and laptops), aren't buying tablets at all. Any tablets. Most people don't understand why they would need an in-between device like a tablet, nor are they willing to spend $500 (which is more than the average cost of a new computer) on something they don't think they need.

    Meanwhile, the anti-Apple people who would like a tablet aren't buying anything because, until very recently, there hasn't been anything to buy. Now that there kind of is, maybe they'll jump

    abdominal workout

  26. Hank Roberts Says:

    So WebOS gets contributed to public domain –

    is there any hope a Palm OS5 emulator will really happen?

    We do need a decent handheld general purpose computer, now that all the major players are going for sell-the-buyer-more-forever machinery.

    Any hope?

  27. robinmaster698 Says:

    I hope not. I’d hoped that HP was making a smart move by not rushing the TouchPad out the door; having used it, I now think it should have moved even more slowly. Top Directory

  28. Dried Pears Says:

    God save me from the customers and employers who will trust some random posting on the Internet.

  29. engineering guide Says:

    I have a Dell Studio 1555 laptop, which I use for work. I'm getting tired of typing, then accidentally disturbing my touchpad and moving the cursor or selecting something by accident. Unlike other laptops, the Studio 1555 does not have a touchpad turn off switch. However, is there some sort of driver that allows me to turn off the touchpad?

  30. Peanuts in Shell Says:

    That's really a amazing video,I also play this game too and it's awesome.Thanks for sharing it with us.I also bookmark your site and visit it in future for more info.

  31. Apple Granular Says:

    I wish you respectable luck along with your site in the foreseeable future and you may make certain I will be following it.

  32. Best Choice Destination Says:

    I rather choose ipad than HP touchpad because its awesome. Ipad have so many apps to choose too. Thanks for posting this helpful article.

  33. Edwin Says:

    You know, I’ve been googling Improve Your Speedall day to find this Truth About Quicknesskind information. Glad you wrote Truth About Quickness Reviewabout it. Thanks!

  34. TomPeris Says:

    until the competitors can offer a real and substantial "ecosystem" of other fully integrated and desirable hardware, software, and cloud products that Just Works, no, there will not be any other successful tablets, period. it's not just the missing app catalogue. its huge ecosystem is Apple's huge strength, from iPod to AppleTV, from iLife to iCloud, from third party accessories to OS X Lion.

    Google has the best communication ecosystem, which is why Android smartphones succeeded. but tablets are not primarily Team building games for children . they are about doing stuff and consuming stuff.

    this is why so far there is not tablet market, just an iPad market.

  35. Dried Apricots Says:

    It seems to me that these are issues that are only applied to those who are (disliked) by the boss, rather than applied as a general rule.

  36. Office design Says:

    I bought it for the better multitasting abilities, love WebOS, and there are some websites that I need to go on for school that the iPad had trouble with. Plus, I already have an iPhone and wanted something different. I also love how so much stuff is integrated into one window out the box. Yes, WebOS is buggy, but they are going to fix the issues and I am patient.

    I bought it for the better multitasting abilities, love WebOS, and there are some websites that I need to go on for school that the iPad had trouble with. Plus, I already have an iPhone and wanted something different. I also love how so much stuff is integrated into one window out the box. Yes, WebOS is buggy, but they are going to fix the issues and I am patient.

  37. Pumpkin Seeds Says:

    If you are talking about THIS article, not only are you wrong, but you are being insulting as well.

  38. KFZ-Aufbereitung Says:

    I was looking at some of your posts on this website and I can say this website is really instructive! I actually prefer the iPad 2.