HP's WebOS tablet: How much developer support is really needed?

HP's WebOS tablet: How much developer support is really needed?

Summary: Hewlett-Packard's WebOS 3.0 beta 1 has been outed and by most accounts TouchPad looks very interesting. The conventional wisdom is that HP will have trouble because of third party app support. Maybe.

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Hewlett-Packard's WebOS 3.0 beta 1 has been outed and by most accounts TouchPad looks very interesting. The conventional wisdom is that HP will have trouble because of third party app support.

PreCentral has a video walkthrough of the SDK and the video is definitely intriguing. Although HP's webOS is clearly a beta, it looks like a contender in the tablet market.

The problem: Apps.

GigaOm's Kevin Tofel notes that "the TouchPad’s biggest challenge to success will be the quality and amount of third-party software."

Quality won't be that much of an issue. HP can buy a few big names to produce good apps as a starter set. The question is how much quantity is needed for HP to get buy.

If HP can garner enough seed apps, get the pricing down and offer a compelling hardware-UI combo there will be a nice virtuous cycle for developers.

Simply put, HP doesn't need 200,000 apps. It just needs the 1,000 to 5,000 tablet apps everyone has to have. From there, pricing and the UI will make a difference.

I'd give HP a puncher's chance to get enough apps to make the TouchPad a go. HP will be embedding the WebOS on most of its printers and PCs. That volume---more than 100 million devices---can serve as a honeypot for WebOS developers. Now it's unclear what developers will do with this printer-PC-tablet relay, but all you need is a few killer apps to kick the cycle off.

HP CEO Leo Apotheker said last month:

“We’ll be shipping this (WebOS) on dedicated devices—smartphones and our tablet—in June. From that date there will be wave after wave to support the WebOS.”

For me, I'd use the tablet primarily as a Web surfing and email tool with a dash of apps. If that's enough for the average bear, HP's TouchPad could work nicely in a tablet market where no Apple rival is able to step up to the plate.

Related: HP's strategy: A credibility check

HP’s WebOS target: 100 million devices

Topics: Operating Systems, Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, Laptops, Mobile OS, Mobility, Software Development, Tablets

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8 comments
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  • Probably don't even need 1000 apps

    If they focus on the enterprise.
    Economister
  • Addicted to WebOS?

    I have been an user of Palm for around 7 years. I have also used Android for a year, and Ipod for this last year. And the WebOS is a champ! I continues waiting for my HP WebOS tablet!
    In regards apps, I travel a lot, I am in the business industry, and I have all that I need.
    FelipeDelRio
  • RE: HP's WebOS tablet: How much developer support is really needed?

    This definitely looks promising and much better than Android Tablets.
    Ram U
  • RE: HP's WebOS tablet: How much developer support is really needed?

    Something has to attract developers. Apple has it's spend-happy customer base, Android has it broad market penetration, and WP7 has it's excellent development tools and installed base of .Net developers.

    What does WebOS have?
    SlithyTove
    • RE: HP's WebOS tablet: How much developer support is really needed?

      @SlithyTove
      You have obviously not had your hands on a WebOS device, or you would not have asked that question. It is the slickest multi tasking, and most highly integrated mobile OS. Even the first WebOS phones, the Palm pre and pixi are amazing phones, Palm just did not have the money to market them appropriately.
      skudera@...
  • RE: HP's WebOS tablet: How much developer support is really needed?

    Applications are vital. But HP can load the market with webOS devices, and that will pique the interest of developers. If anyone has a chance of being a serious player next to Apple in the market it's HP.
    jeremychappell
  • It's not about the number of apps per se..

    Yes there is a core group of apps that everyone uses.. You have to have those.. and they don't yet.. but more than that there are the apps that very few want or need, but you do... that's what a huge library of apps gives.. it gives you those niche apps that only you and a small number of others need/want..
    doctorSpoc
  • HP tablets will fall short of Apple

    HP tablets have all the right specs but they will always fall short of the iPad. The iPad has more support, more apps, and entirely too much marketshare for anyone else to enter the tablet market. <a href="http://www.123inkjets.com/HP/Ink-Toner-Cartridges/16-Manufacturer.html">HP inkjet cartridges</a>
    rtaylormu