Friday, August 26, 2011

Is HP really killing the Touchpad, or is it all a massive ruse?

Back story here and here

I managed to get my hands on two HP Touchpads earlier this week, both at the crazy prices of $98AU for a 16GB and $148AU for a 32GB (finally, Australia has cheaper tech than the US). It was a mad rush. If a work mate and I weren't watching twitter for rumors we would have been none the wiser. 

We got to the local Harvey Norman store around 15 minutes after their staff got the call from the head office instructing them to go ahead with the reduced pricing. Five others were already waiting for the stock to be brought out and more steadily came walking (fast) in behind us. They had 70 in store and they were all gone within the hour.

Was it worth it? Completely. WebOS does lack a lot of polish and some really important features, but it's really not as bad as what some are making it out to be, and it's certainly not bad enough to kill the entire product line so soon. It had only spent four days on the shop shelves in Australia before the big axing. 

You can easily see that a lot of hard work has gone into the OS over its short life. Some of the WebOS aspects actually thrash the rivals, like multitasking. It's absolutely a ton better at multitasking than its rivals. I think that if it was given the same time that Android and IOS have had to mature I think WebOS would have been (and possible still will be) a very strong player in the ARM operating system game. 

The hardware is great. Again its missing a few features but its one of the fastest tablets (CPU and GPU) in the current market. It feels strong, looks strong, was packaged well, has a good screen and was released along side some high quality accessories. I quickly grabbed covers for both and a touchstone charger in fear they would be hard to get after a few days, which another work mate is unfortunately confirming right now. 

It all seems crazy to the point where I'm starting to question HP's motive. Six days after they had internationally killed the entire line they released/updated a HP branded application which is specifically designed for the Touchpad. Then today they have switch on paid app support for Australia. Not bad for a "completely unsupported software" platform. Why would they bother? To make it even more confusing HP have just rewarded Touchpad owners with a free "6-Pack" of paid apps in the U.S. 

If HP are trying to show possible buyers of their consumer line that they still have confidence in the Touchpad/WebOS product its a very extremely weak attempt, especially after their drastic and sudden actions to wipe their hands of it all. 

Whats with this half/lingering interest HP? I know I'm not the only one who is thinking along these lines. Could HP turn around now and say "now we have hundreds of thousands of users on the platform we will continue with the line"? Sony and Microsoft sell their consoles at a loss at the start of their lives to get customers on the platform, is it that hard to imagine a company like HP could be doing the same? If I was a hardware manufacturer and I'd just bought a reasonably fresh OS I would certainly think about doing it. Maybe I'm just being over inquisitive/over speculative...?

Either way I think I have won. I'd put $100 on an Android build being publicly released before the end of the year. If that doesn't happen I'm happy to continue to use WebOS in its current state. 

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