Technologizer posts about HP TouchPad

The TouchPad Lives! Momentarily! Or Eventually! Possibly! I Hope So!

By  |  Posted at 4:32 pm on Tuesday, August 30, 2011

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Not too long ago, HP was laying out its vision for its then-new TouchPad tablet. It involved the company’s dedication to making the TouchPad a success, and–everyone at HP who I spoke with repeated this word until it rang in my ears–the “scale” the giant company could being to the effort. The strategy was ambitious and clear.

Then, week before last, HP abruptly responded to disappointing initial sales for the new tablet by killing it. That was depressing. But clear.

Then it decided to blow out the remaining Touchpads for $99 apiece. Poignant. And understandable, at least. I mean, it’s better than dumping them in landfill.

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What a $99 HP TouchPad Does and Doesn’t Teach Us

By  |  Posted at 11:50 am on Monday, August 22, 2011

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Weird: By flopping so badly, HP’s TouchPad tablet has become a monstrous hit. After HP CEO Léo Apotheker decided to terminate HP’s WebOS hardware business, the company slashed the entry-level TouchPad, which sold for $499 just a couple of weeks ago, to $99. The new price is causing riots at Best Buy and has made the TouchPad the #1 electronics product on Amazon.

HP is now selling TouchPads as fast as it won’t make them. It’s a poignant end to a device that once seemed full of potential.

Are the folks snapping up TouchPads making an intelligent buying decision? It depends. HP says it’s not giving up on WebOS, and will continue to operate the WebOS app store and hold developer events. I’m not sure what the status is of any software updates for the TouchPad: it could certainly use some additional bug fixes and enhancements, but I’d be startled if HP poured energy into development of anything as ambitious as an iOS 5.0 or an Android Ice Cream Sandwich, at least while the fate of WebOS is so very uncertain.

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Instapaper creator Marco Arment says that WebOS’s reputation for being great is overblown, since it never ran all that well on any device that HP or Palm shipped it on:

HP definitely mismanaged Palm. The TouchPad’s software shouldn’t have shipped when it did. The hardware wasn’t very good. The marketing was insufficient. The retail channel was poorly managed.

But webOS, despite having some great ideas, never became competitive. Palm and webOS’ developers bear most of the responsibility for that, not just HP’s managers.

I can’t really argue his point. In fact, he quotes my TouchPad review as evidence of WebOS’s problems. But I can make a clarification: When I speak enthusiastically about WebOS, as I often have, it’s mostly over the user interface. Arment is right that WebOS as it existed on real devices always had issues. (For instance, it loaded programs way more slowly than other mobile OSes.) WebOS’s potential was always enormous; the actual product has always had its frustrations. And on the TouchPad, it had tons of frustrations. But boy, I’ll still be sorry if it’s all over.

Posted by Harry at 3:20 pm

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More Evidence That There’s No “Tablet Market”

By  |  Posted at 3:15 pm on Wednesday, August 17, 2011

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All Things Digital’s Arik Hesseldahl reports that sales of HP’s TouchPad at Best Buy aren’t great. In fact, his source says that Best Buy has managed to sell less than ten percent of the 270,000 TouchPads that HP has shipped to the retailer so far. It’s causing Best Buy some angst, Hesseldahl says.

HP’s rapid move to cut the TouchPad’s price apparently hasn’t goosed demand, at least sufficiently: according to an analyst Hesseldahl quotes, consumers think that the price might tumble even further. And so rather than buy a cheap TouchPad now, they’re waiting for even cheaper TouchPads that could be in the works.

I like competition and I like the TouchPad’s WebOS software, so I’m rooting for some incarnation of HP’s product to be a winner that sells well. But it’s not the least bit startling to see it get off to a slow start. The first reviews of the TouchPad–here’s mine–were pretty much unanimously lukewarm at best, pointing out bugs, performance issues, and a general lack of apps. Even if you were intrigued by the TouchPad, the reviews would leave you thinking that it made sense to wait rather than rush out and buy one.

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That temporary sale that knocked $100 off the price of HP’s TouchPad? It’s no surprise that it turned into a price cut, period. The TouchPad now starts at $399, a hundred bucks less than an iPad. I wonder if it’ll boost sales enough to make the TouchPad the first clear hit in the tablet biz that isn’t from Apple?

Posted by Harry at 9:39 am

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Suddenly, at Least Temporarily, the TouchPad is the Mythical Cheap iPad Alternative

By  |  Posted at 11:43 am on Friday, August 5, 2011

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First, HP introduced its TouchPad tablet at the same starting price as Apple’s iPad: $499. Then it introduced a $50 instant rebate, bringing the price down to $449. Then it announced a special $100 instant rebate this weekend, bringing the price down to $399.

And now WebOSRoundup says that Staples has a $100 coupon that you can use and still qualify for the instant rebate–letting you snag a 16GB TouchPad for $299, or a 40 percent discount off the original price.

That’s one way of answering the question “Why should anyone buy the HP TouchPad instead of the iPad”–give the TouchPad a much more aggressive price. The TouchPad may theoretically be going back to $499, but in the world of tech, there’s almost no such thing as once-in-a-lifetime deals: if a $299 TouchPad is available today, it probably means that all 16GB TouchPads will go for $299 sooner or later. Probably sooner. And while it might help move tablets, it presumably isn’t a sign that HP is thrilled with how well the TouchPad is selling at $499.

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HP’s TouchPad Gets a $100 Price Cut, This Weekend Only

By  |  Posted at 11:43 pm on Thursday, August 4, 2011

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Did Tuesday’s $50 price cut on the HP TouchPad strike you as ho-hum? Perhaps this weekend’s $100 price cut will do the trick.

The instant rebate will be in effect from August 5 through August 7 on HP’s website, PreCentral reports.

The TouchPad debuted to lukewarm reviews, partly because there aren’t a lot of tablet apps on HP’s WebOS platform, and partly because the software was buggy and slow. HP has improved its software through a subsequent update, but the app deficiency remains.

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Almost all of the reviews of HP’s TouchPad (here’s mine) have the same gist: “This tablet is extremely rough, but WebOS is neat .” HP can apparently live with that.

Posted by Harry at 9:27 am

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PreCentral says it has info on HP’s plans for WebOS devices for the rest of the year–including a 64GB white TouchPad, an AT&T “4G” model, a 7-inch tablet, and the Pre 3. Sounds interesting–but judging from the first TouchPad, what WebOS really, really needs is a thorough debugging.

Posted by Harry at 4:39 pm

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

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

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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.

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WebOS: Coming Eventually to a Non-HP Device Near You?

By  |  Posted at 12:06 pm on Wednesday, June 1, 2011

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Here at Qualcomm’s Uplinq conference, reporter Kevin Maney is interviewing Jon Rubinstein, former head of Palm and now the guy in charge of HP’s WebOS business. Rubinstein did all the things you’d expect he’d do–he brandished two WebOs phones (the new Veer and upcoming Pre3), showed off a TouchPad tablet, and ran a demo video. Fine. But when Maney asked him whether HP would be willing to license WebOS to other companies, he said that the company had no interest in getting into the licensing game. And then he hedged a bit: he said that it might be interested in working with “one or two special companies.”

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HP Playfully Punches RIM’s Playbook

By  |  Posted at 9:09 am on Wednesday, March 2, 2011

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Noticing that Research in Motion’s Blackberry Playbook looks a lot like the HP TouchPad, Laptop Mag’s Mark Spoonauer has instigated a minor spat between the two companies.

A little background: HP’s 10-inch TouchPad uses WebOS, the operating system HP acquired along with Palm last year. The first device to use it, Palm’s Pre, launched in 2009. RIM’s OS is powered by QNX, a company that RIM acquired last year, and the 7-inch Playbook’s interface is built from scratch. Both platforms feature an app tray on the bottom of the screen and large panels representing open apps above. At a glance, they’re nearly identical.

With that in mind, Spoonauer asked a marketing executive from each company to comment on the similarities.

Here’s John Oakes, the HP TouchPad’s director of product marketing:

“From what we’ve seen in the market, there are some uncanny similarities. It’s a fast innovation cycle and a fast imitation cycle in this market … and we’ll keep innovating, we’ll keep honing and those guys hopefully will continue to see the value in it and keep following us by about a year.”

And here’s Jeff McDowell, RIM’s senior vice president for business and platform marketing:

“You know, cars over time end up looking a lot alike because you put them through a wind tunnel, and when you’re trying to come up with the best coefficient to drag ratio, there’s one optimized shape that gets the best wind resistance, right? Well, when you’re trying to optimize user experience … you’re going to get people landing on similar kinds of designs.”

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