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Comments on: HP Execs Hint at a WebOS Tablet in the Near Future

While CES 2011 has come and gone with no official Palm-related announcements from HP, WebOS tidbits continue to trickle out in advance of HP's "WebOS announcement event" slated for February 9th.

Last week, HP's Phil McKinney reiterated HP's promise of bringing a WebOS tablet to market in 2011. Coming via a The Next Bench post detailing his predictions for CES 2011, McKinney told HP blogger-in-chief Darren Gladstone that HP wouldn't have anything to show at CES 2011 then offered a link to a recent Palm blog post hinting at all things tablet-related.

Then last Friday at CES, HP's Todd Bradley told CNBC that HP are "…totally focused on the tablet market" and the promising future of WebOS and its relation to "other large-screen devices". The main highlights from the video interview focus around the number of announcements poised to occur at HP's February event in San Francisco. The nearly 8-minute long video is definitely worth checking out for Bradley's comments about the respective strengths of tablets vs PCs.

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When you can't release products, you hint!

jca666us @ 1/17/2011 12:20:23 AM # M Q
All HP has done is talk about webos and release a few uninspiring updates.

If the new iPad comes with a dual core processor, and a 2048 x 1536 ips screen, all these newfangled webos devices will be selling for $99 on QVC.

Android tablets and the playbook have a much better chance of greater market penetration than webos...

RE: When you can't release products, you hint!
LiveFaith @ 1/17/2011 11:03:56 AM # Q
Apple didn't release anything before talking about a new product called the iPhone. I'm not sure that "past performance is any assurance of future expectations".
Pat Horne
RE: When you can't release products, you hint!
AdamaDBrown @ 1/17/2011 12:30:52 PM # Q
Unfortunately, HP is not Apple. HP's track record on devices is bad verging on woeful. Even the best things they've produced in recent years were either buried where no one knew about them, like their phones, or they were unremarkable enough not to merit the attention, like the iPaq 210.

This isn't to say companies can't turn their design process around--Motorola used to have fairly marginal devices, and now they're producing some of the best hardware available. But I wouldn't be optimistic that HP is going to come out with something that is capable of generating the kind of excitement it needs to survive.

Remember that it's not just about the device, it's about the environment. Right now, all the development is going toward the Android and iPhone platforms, leaving the "also rans" of WebOS and Windows Phone 7 out in the cold. And with the avalanche of new Android devices, I think it would take a seismic event to shift that balance.

RE: When you can't release products, you hint!
PacManFoo @ 1/17/2011 2:01:30 PM # Q
HP did themselves no favors by not having the PRE 2 and more out and on carriers in time for the Christmas sales. Even if they have greater things coming out soon, they should have sacrificed a bit for the short term. It will take a great deal of time for them to make up for the last 6 months and the dwindling of the platform. They may get a tablet out just in time for not only the iPad 2 but also the avalanche of Android tablets. They will get lost in the shuffle. WebOS... most will have never of heard of it. Heck, it most likely won't even be called Palm anymore. So they have a HP WebOS tablet that. It does basically the same thing as both the Android and Apple tablets. Is it much cheaper? That is the only thing that will sway customers to buy it instead unless they have something major up their sleeves and I highly doubt that is the case.
The last known classic PDA user.
RE: When you can't release products, you hint!
hkklife @ 1/17/2011 3:21:05 PM # Q
It's pretty well understood that HP didn't have enough time to create a family of world-beating devices in the 2nd half of 2010 after they acquired Palm. But they could have done A LOT more than they have thus far to at least keep WebOS on the periphery of public mindshare:

-Release WebOS 2.0 for ALL legacy devices. How far behind can this OS possibly be if it it's been finished for months and in a shipping device (Pre 2)? IMHO, the carriers are intentionally dragging their feet on certification and hoping that WebOS handset owners will just "give up" and go away and buy an iPhone or Android device.

-Get the Pre 2 out ASAP at least on Verizon. Whether it's some kind of loss-leader, $50 w/ contract + instant rebate + free wi-fi hotspot promo for the Pre 2 or a subsidized "Give us your old Pre Plus or Pixi Plus + $100 for a new Pre 2" one year trade-in offer, ANYTHING to keep users on the WebOS ship is better than seeing customers leave in droves for Android devices now and to the iPhone next month. Between the existing Android line, February's iPhone and the barrage of 4G Android handsets this spring, the opportunity for a Pre 2 to make any kind of impact with VZW has passed.

VZW's smartphone lineup to date was kinda weak below the flagship Droid-branded devices and especially with touchscreen + QWERTY devices. A relatively affordable Pre 2 w/ free hotspot this fall would have been a nice touch. Oh well!

-Having no migration path for existing Sprint users. This is a biggie. Most of the diehard Palm loyalists (Garnet, WebOS or otherwise) are Sprint users. Summer of 2010 came and they had to use their one-year upgrade on a shiny new Evo 4G. The Sprint WebOS devices are the oldest, worst put together, and lowest-spec'd devices out there. To ask those original Pre users/victims to wait for 2+ years to upgrade is preposterous!

-Letting developers abandon WebOS in droves and do nothing (at least nothing publicly) about it. Epocrates is a huge one, obviously, as is Dataviz. I know there are oodles of others. Where is the WebOS version of Quickoffice for legacy devices!? I Where is the "full" version of Quickoffice for ANY WebOS version?

-I haven't kept track of the WebOS gaming scene too closely, but it seems like in the span of 2 years WebOS went from "games aren't our primary audience" to "the best 3D gaming on a smartphone" to "we cannot even update our catalog to indicate which 3D title are compatible with the Pixi" The standard QWERTY would have provided a LOT of flexibility for action and more complex games on the go...but what's the point with such a craptastic CPU and a tiny screen?

-Dropping support for Motion Apps' Classic. This is not a huge loss in terms of $ or even numbers of users. But it's a slap in the face to long-time Palm OS loyalists. Not I have to question if HP will even bundle the nifty Palm Desktop PIM import utility with future WebOS devices.

-Not having a WebOS-powered non-phone device (ie a "Pre Touch"). I've said this before and I'll say it again: Apple is the only company with the balls to stand up to the carriers. All of the best Android devices to do have been carrier-endorsed (often exlcusives) smartphones. The Motorola Xoom tablet, as impressive as it looks, looks to continue to same shitty trend of mandatory 3G/4G connectivity and no wi-fi version offered. But at least you can bypass Android activation a LOT easier than you can WebOS activation.

With each new release, Apple hits all of the key price points, memory configs, and connectivity options (3G/wi-fi or wi-fi only). Even a cheap $150 web exclusive wi-fi only Pre-type device would be a godsend to developers and those who are curious about the functioinality of WebOS...and no emulator is going to replicate the feel of an actual device.

Let's face it folks, like Adama said, even with a seismic event in February, WebOS is still not guaranteed to even surpass WP7 in mind or marketshare. HP will have to knock it out of the park with an original Droid-like smartphone hit AND an iPad-style style in order to make any inroads. And it's a helluva lot harder to have those kinda of successes now than it was a year or 18 months ago!
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RE: When you can't release products, you hint!
gmayhak @ 1/17/2011 6:28:49 PM # Q
I agree 100% Kris, like I've said before.. HP ceased being a consumer technology leader in the 70s after their great run with pocket calculators (computers). What I still can't understand is why Geeko keeps hyping Googles fragmented OS trap when he and Steve are such kindred souls :-/
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RE: When you can't release products, you hint!
gmayhak @ 1/17/2011 6:48:12 PM # Q
RE: When you can't release products, you hint!
AdamaDBrown @ 1/17/2011 10:11:32 PM # Q
Let's face it folks, like Adama said, even with a seismic event in February, WebOS is still not guaranteed to even surpass WP7 in mind or marketshare.

At this point, I would say that surpassing Windows Phone 7 being your benchmark for success is rather like being the second person to die in a horror movie instead of the first. Sure, it's better than the alternative, but your future doesn't really look that much brighter.

Anyone buying a new smartphone today has overwhelming reasons to go with either Apple or Android, and very few reasons to buy Windows Phone 7 or WebOS. Microsoft had already lost the battle of initiative, even before they decided to destroy their entire installed base by creating a completely new OS. That not only eliminated the incentive for upgraders, it created an actual disincentive. All the buzz and development is with Apple and Android--you don't see people falling all over themselves to offer apps for WP7, they're offering them for the iPhone and for the Droids.

With that being the case, and with Microsoft's legendary short attention span, it's only a matter of time until they lose interest and either can WP7 entirely, or reimagine it again (to the detriment of anyone who started using it), or they simply leave it to stagnate.

But even compared to WP7's dismal prospects, WebOS faces an even more uphill battle--they have all the disadvantages that WP7 does in the market, while additionally being solely available from one company which historically has lacked market savvy.

I would give decent odds that both WebOS and Microsoft's share of the smartphone market will be fading memories by the end of the year. They've lost their competitiveness in a market that's being absolutely dominated by two platforms, and with the modern market being heavily influenced by apps and development, developers go where the buzz is. It's a self-reinforcing cycle.

RE: When you can't release products, you hint!
Gekko @ 1/18/2011 5:40:14 AM # Q

ADB - nice analysis. what primary device are you using now and why?

RE: When you can't release products, you hint!
linds @ 1/18/2011 11:05:36 AM # Q
Only one question..... Is not HP the number one manufacturer of computers in the world. How do you do that without being somewhat of a successful company.

Don't get me wrong, I really don't believe HP can make it happen either I just wonder how HP is the world's number 1 computer maker and yet supposedly such a "unexciting" company.


RE: When you can't release products, you hint!
Gekko @ 1/18/2011 11:30:13 AM # Q

mass producing commoditized vanilla wintel machines is a much different animal.

RE: When you can't release products, you hint!
hkklife @ 1/18/2011 11:48:27 AM # Q
The "biggie" PC makers (Dell, HP, Acer, Lenovo etc) have yet to make any kind of impact at all in the tablet/PDA/smartphone/media player markets. And let's not even get into Dell & the pre-Acer Gateway's ill-fated ventures into consumer electronics and TVs!

HP's big-buck & bulky Wintel TM series convertible notebook tablets don't count, nor do the long-discontinued Dell Axim PDAs.

I could actually see Sony or Toshiba standing a better chance to hit the ground running with a tablet on their first attempt than I could one of the "PC makers" listed above.


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RE: When you can't release products, you hint!
AdamaDBrown @ 1/18/2011 12:30:42 PM # Q
Gekko, right now as a primary phone I'm currently still using my Samsung Jack, running Windows Mobile 6.1. However, I'm very likely in the next month or so to switch to a Motorola Droid Pro. I've had one for about 6 weeks, since I've been writing the review for Brighthand, and it's a truly impressive device. There's a few minor changes I'd make, but overall I've been very pleased with both the hardware and, even more so, the Android platform.

Besides some of the side benefits to switching (Verizon has 3G in my hometown, while AT&T doesn't), Android has a really superb software and development base. Even if I felt like sticking with my old Windows device, almost no one is developing for it, meaning that I'm locked into the existing apps. And with Windows Phone 7, I'd have had to throw those away, so I have no incentive not to switch.

Apple has great development enthusiasm too, but besides the price premium, there's the fact that you can't get an Apple phone with a keyboard. That makes it a non-starter for me, whatever other merits it may have.

Since Android is my obvious choice, the Droid Pro appears to logically follow. I need a keyboard, and I prefer a single piece QWERTY-bar design, for which the Droid Pro is the most available option. I'd briefly considered the Droid 2 Global, but I've never found side-sliders as comfortable as a one-piece device. So it looks like the Droid Pro is going to become my main device.

Linds, to expand on what Gekko said: there's a lot less that goes into the design of a PC. When all machines are more or less the same, at least in the eyes of the customers, then they make decisions on brand name. Phones, however, get a lot more scrutiny, because they're NOT all fundamentally the same, and because carrier alliances and marketing make so much of an impact.

HP / Palm's webOS tablets -- pictures, plans, and more
Gekko @ 1/18/2011 12:34:25 PM # Q
RE: When you can't release products, you hint!
hkklife @ 1/18/2011 12:47:06 PM # Q
Already seen it! Hot damn! Working on news item now!


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RE: When you can't release products, you hint!
jca666us @ 1/18/2011 1:11:37 PM # M Q
The photos of the new webos tablets look good, but june?!?!?

Seems like a rehash of the Pre debut; announce them early and by the time they're released, the iPad 2, and the xoom, will obsolete them.

unless hp is planning on selling these for $299 and $399

RE: When you can't release products, you hint!
AdamaDBrown @ 1/18/2011 1:32:39 PM # Q
jca666us, I think that you're right. Unless these have some remarkable killer app that you simply can't do with an iPad, I'm not seeing how they overcome the Apple marketing machine. Assuming that all the specs, all the features, and all the capabilities are equal, people still have a huge motivation to go with the iPad due to it's massive software support and available accessory base. And honestly, I don't see anything that the HP devices could do to overcome that short of something like providing free or dirt-cheap mobile internet. If these let you get online for $5 a month, or give you a selection of things completely free ala the Kindle, then we might be talking about something interesting. Otherwise? I'm not seeing the buzz.
RE: When you can't release products, you hint!
hkklife @ 1/18/2011 1:43:43 PM # Q
Here's what HP & Palm could bring to the table with their spin on a tablet that Apple doesn't:

1. Undercutting iPad on pricing
2. Expandable + internal storage
3. More variety in formfactors/screen sizes/resolutions
4. More variety in radio/network/carrier support
5. User-replacable batteries
6. Industry-standard connectors (microUSB, microHDMI, microSDHC etc)
7. USB drag & drop + complete cloud connectivity

Whoops! Looks like all of those features are already addressed by Android, especially if Honeycomb ends up as snazzy as it looked at CES. You are right again, Adama---how on earth can they really hope to differentiate their products against the iPad's 18 month headstart and years of Apple goodwill/brainwashing?

And to push these with an e-reader slant is simply suicide, because the nifty little Nook Color is selling oodles to the "e-reader + web" crowd and the Kindle has the monochrome e-reader market locked up tight already.
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RE: When you can't release products, you hint!
Gekko @ 1/18/2011 1:54:27 PM # Q

1. iPad
2. Android Tablets
3. Windows Tablets
4. RIM BB PlayBook
5. HP PalmPad


RE: When you can't release products, you hint!
jca666us @ 1/18/2011 3:24:22 PM # M Q
Hkk,

Hp is looking to undercut ipad's pricing with a low rent 7" model.

No one has released a 9.7" tablet hitting the same price points as the iPad.

No one has been able to demonstrate that a 7" touchscreen tablet form factor is as usable as a 9.7" screen.

Even if hp can undercut the iPad's price, it remains to be seen if they can match the iPad's quality.

As for expandability, and variety in form factors, hp seems, from the renderings, to be aping several elements of the iPad's design.

And while a webos tablet looks very competitive against last year's iPad, iPad 2 will be in stores long before these webos tablets.

Hp will be hard pressed to compete against both android iOS.

RE: When you can't release products, you hint!
hkklife @ 1/18/2011 3:39:18 PM # Q
7" is a great tablet formfactor, IMO, for thumb typing. 7" is better for input and portability, 10" is better for home use & media consumption.

I love the Nook Color and even the Samsung Galaxy Tab formfactors. As long as they don't go low-rent (they likely will) with an 800x480 LCD, a 1024x600 (or higher) 7" IPS screen could be a sweet little device that hits a sweet spot in the market. $299-$350 perhaps?

Personally, I think something like 9.1" or so would be the ideal tablet size. No way HP can match the iPad's quality---and if they do, it'll be an "Envy" high-end model that will likely be targeted as an elite device and surpassing the iPad's price points.

It's like when Apple &AT&T lowered the iPhone price to $199 a few years ago: it set a total benchmark for for the industry where the long-term repercussions are now being felt. Plan rates goe up, subsidies go down---yet everyone is happy because they can get a flagship smartphone from any carrier at a $199 subsidized price.

$399 and perhaps up to $499 are going to be the key tablet prices going forward. EVERYONE I know with an iPad has the 16gb wi-fi model. They don't store much on their devices, they just use them for Youtube, web browsing, email and e-books.

I agree on your point about iPad 2--if those specs are anywhere close to what the rumors are saying (especially the SD card slot!) then Apple is going to have the majority of the tablet market wrapped up on their 2nd attempt, with the handful of table scraps left over for Android and maybe RIM.

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RE: When you can't release products, you hint!
AdamaDBrown @ 1/19/2011 12:22:42 AM # Q
I can see three ways that they could seriously differentiate.

1. Free and limited, or cheap, cellular internet. Free maps, Wikipedia, and email would be enough to lure some people who maybe want the on-the-go capabilities of the top level iPad, but don't want to drop a ton of money on monthly fees.

2. Do something innovative with the form-factor. A superlightweight twist-and-flip convertible tablet/laptop would be a good example of this. If someone can deliver this with a nice 8 hour battery, you could displace some of the netbook market, particularly for users who want a travel piece.

3. Go ridiculously cheap. Think $199 for the 7".

RE: When you can't release products, you hint!
hkklife @ 1/19/2011 11:08:39 AM # Q
What I would LOVE to see is a slightly dumbed-down WebOS-powered "Kindle Color" from Amazon that is sold EVERYWHERE and competes with the Nook Color from B&N....but manages to one-up it by having more functionality than just an e-reader & a web browser.

Maybe asking for App Store integration is a bit much but it's definitely gotta have a great 7" screen and at least a few PIM and gaming capabilities.
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