2011 is living up to its reputation of being “The year of the tablet”. The iPad 2 launched and sold out quicker than anybody would have imagined. The PlayBook opened to decent reviews until RIM was forced to recall about 1,000 PlayBooks due to a “faulty operating system.” Google incurred the wrath of app developers when it decided to limit access to the Honeycomb source code, leaving their tablet app development plans in jeopardy.
All in all, it’s been an eventful year in the tablet segment and we haven’t even reached mid year yet. Though HP may be a late mover in the tablet segment, it’s oozing with confidence that the company’s upcoming TouchPad will overtake the current tablet-market dominator, Apple’s iPad.
While beating the Apple iPad isn’t child’s play and it’s easy to write off this contest as HP’s delusion, I like the enthusiasm coming from the HP camp.
“In the PC world, with fewer ways of differentiating HP’s products from our competitors, we became number one. In the tablet world we’re going to become better than number one. We call it number one plus.,” said HP senior vice president Eric Cador said at a press conference in Cannes, according to The Telegraph. While I’ll refrain from getting into the semantics of “Number one plus“, I reckon HP’s strong foothold in the PC segment and established sales channels will definitely help boost its tablet ambitions.
The TouchPad was first revealed in February, is expected to be launched early June. It will run webOS 3.0 and is expected to be priced at $599 for a 32-GB model. So, assuming that the TouchPad will be priced at par with the iPad 2, RIM’s PlayBook and Motorola Xoom, HP seems to have certainly missed a trick in the aggressive pricing rulebook. It would be interesting to see how HP plans to differentiate the TouchPad solely through experience, after all webOS is still a minnow as compared to Android or iOS.
To put things in perspective, Apple has sold close to 20 million iPads since its debut in 2010. No other tablet even comes close to matching those astronomical sales figures – Motorola (250,000 Xooms), RIM (250,000 PlayBooks), and Samsung Galaxy Tab sales haven’t been as fast as expected. When the iPad launched, it was deemed inappropriate for the business segment. Times have changed since then and now an increasing number of businesses want iPads, they just don’t know why?
It’s interesting to note that HP made a failed attempt at competing directly with the iPad with the much fancied Slate 500. Though it was touted to win the enterprise race, the astounding price tag of $799 always meant HP’s success would be short-lived till other competitors hit the market with their offerings. In contrast, the TouchPad seems priced at par with the competition and HP would be hoping to make amends for its earlier debacle.
HP says there will be “thousands” of app partners on board by the time of the TouchPad launch and webOS operating system will be TouchPad’s prime differentiator in the tablet segment. While “trouncing the iPad” remains a distant possibility, HP should perhaps realize that a podium finish in the fast-growing tablet market would be a commendable achievement in itself.