Archives: HP Touchpad - Advantages & Disadvantages

Originally published in March 2011
Simon Nguyen

2011 looks set to be the Year of the Tablet. In the first quarter of the year alone, several dozen different tablet computers have either been released or announced. Most importantly, many of these are from established brands like Motorola, Dell, and Research in Motion. The latest to join the crowded tablet market is HP Touchpad. Touted as the first tablet device to be powered by Palm’s critically acclaimed webOS, Touchpad is expected to battle the iPad for market supremacy. But does HP Touchpad have what it takes to find success in this highly competitive market? This article examines key advantages and disadvantages of HP Touchpad and provides a business perspective.

The biggest selling point of HP Touchpad is the fact that it will feature Palm’s webOS--a mobile operating system that received great reviews from industry insiders when it was first unveiled a couple of years ago. The version that runs Touchpad will not be recycled from past editions. Instead, it will be a standalone version optimized for tablet use. According to Bloomberg, HP plans to include webOS in all of its PCs and laptops starting in 2012. It is expected that Touchpad will be fully integrated with other HP products that use webOS, which should make fans of the HP brand very happy. In short, HP wants to make webOS its equivalent of Apple iOS.

In order for HP Touchpad to be successful, it will need to increase its visibility with consumers. Fortunately, the HP brand is the perfect catalyst to make this happen. Being the world’s top PC manufacturer, Hewlett-Packard is a highly established brand with great visibility and a loyal customer base. This automatically lends Touchpad credibility with consumers—an advantage only shared by Apple iPad.

Another advantage that HP Touchpad has is the fact that it will be one of the most powerful tablet PCs on the market. According PC World, Touchpad will have 1 GB of memory which is up to two times more robust than either iPad 2 or Samsung Galaxy Tab. This, coupled with Qualcomm’s powerful dual-core processor, will allow for faster processing and more efficient multitasking. One should expect HP to really drive home this point in its marketing campaign. Touchpad will also include standard tablet features like a camera, Bluetooth support, and various sensors. Along with Motorola Xoom, HP Touchpad is expected to be the most significant challenger to iPad’s dominance.

While HP Touchpad has many upsides, it also has many disadvantages. One significant downside is the fact that its library of apps will be appreciably smaller than those of Apple and Android. HP does not have a strong foothold in the mobile app world, and a dedicated store for webOS apps has yet to come to fruition. This will of course be realized in due time, but by then the Touchpad might have already become an afterthought. With the recent announcement that webOS will be included with most HP products starting in 2012, Hewlett-Packard is hoping to attract developers to create applications for the platform. Unfortunately, this is still at least a full year away. It is hard for developers to devote precious resources to creating apps for the Touchpad, while there are far more opportunities available with Android and Apple.

Another disadvantage of HP Touchpad is its highly sterile name. There is a reason why we have iPad, Xoom, and Streak. These names are clearly designed to be modern and memorable. HP’s “Touchpad” simply does not possess the appealing qualities of the aforementioned. As marketing is an important part of a tablet device’s success, the plainness of the name is an unmistakable weakness.

What is the outlook for HP Touchpad? The summer launch window for the tablet PC (reported by Techradar) may be too long of a wait. By summer of 2011, the device’s three main competitors (iPad 2, Xoom, and Playbook) would have already been released. HP will have to play catch up with its Touchpad. At the same time, support for webOS apps would still be scanty at best. A tablet device without strong apps is unlikely to impress. Unless there are more to the Touchpad that we have not yet known or HP manages to get strong support from notable app developers in a few months time, the device’s immediate outlook is grim.

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