HP's TouchPad: No price, no deal and no interest

Summary:Hewlett-Packard's unveiling of the TouchPad was notable and many folks thought that the company got back into the tablet game. The problem: There's no pricing information and consumers aren't likely to wait around for details.

Hewlett-Packard's unveiling of the TouchPad was notable and many folks thought that the company got back into the tablet game.

Indeed, HP's WebOS looked fluid and the TouchPad had a little elegance to it. For a few minutes there, I actually wanted one and so did others.

Also:

There's just one huge problem: Price. HP's TouchPad arrives this summer after a bevy of Android tablets hit the market and Apple's iPad 2 will be available. That's why HP was preannouncing products months in advance---it wanted you to know it had a cool tablet. All of those moving parts are fine, but the omission of a price---or even a range---hurts this unveiling.

As we all know, price matters. If HP's TouchPad price could match the $499 benchmark set by Apple rest assured the company would tell us. Price is everything. If Motorola's Xoom is checking in at a rumored $800 we instantly know it's going to be hard to compete with the iPad. HP has to at least match iPad pricing with better features.

Price is such a big deal because HP has no clout in the tablet market. HP can't really freeze the market like Apple did on Wednesday. In many respects, HP's TouchPad unveiling has Palm written all over it. Announce a product well in advance of ability, provide incremental updates and when it launches officially you pray that the device is still relevant. Sound familiar? It's the same playbook Palm used before it launched the Pre.

Looking at the pros and cons of the TouchPad it's clear price is the tiebreaker. Here's the ledger:

Pros:

  • The interface looks slick.
  • HP seems to have solved the keyboard issue for folks that need to create content.
  • The specs for the TouchPad sound promising.

Cons:

  • The TouchPad is still months away.
  • It's unclear whether developers will line up to create apps.
  • There will be plenty of TouchPad alternatives available and it's doubtful consumers will wait.

Bottom line: The tiebreaker is price. You can't make a decision about the TouchPad without knowing a price range. HP's TouchPad is a nice diversion, but little else without talking dollars.

Topics: Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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