Does HP have the right strategy to take on the iPad and Android tablets?

Does HP have the right strategy to take on the iPad and Android tablets?

Summary: It's pretty much a given that HP will leap into the tablet wars full force with an announcement on February 9, all but certain to involve the WebOS platform it purchased Palm for last year. But can a WebOS tablet compete effectively against Apple's iPad juggernaut and the rash of Android tablets coming from every direction?

SHARE:

It's pretty much a given that HP will leap into the tablet wars full force with an announcement on February 9, all but certain to involve the WebOS platform it purchased Palm for last year. But can a WebOS tablet compete effectively against Apple's iPad juggernaut and the rash of Android tablets coming from every direction?

The problem isn't if the computing giant will deliver an attractive product. Palm's development of the WebOS for phones was well-received from the design perspective, including offering multitasking at a time when the iPhone didn't handle it. The question is whether offering a cool tablet based on yet another platform is going to be enough to make a dent against the competition.

Apple has the early advantage and the ubiquity of Android means it will grab a big share of the tablet market just as it's done with smartphones. RIM has a built-in enterprise clientele that could support the new PlayBook, and Microsoft will make its usual half-assed attempt at clawing into the picture with some flavor of Windows 7. Usually the market can't handle that many OSes -- note how Nokia's Symbian and WebOS itself wilted as iOS and Android rose.

Additionally concerning is the fact that it will be increasing hard to innovate enough to make one tablet a must-have over another. Android tablets are already accounting for the iPad's deficiencies by adding cameras and offering a smaller, 7-inch form factor. Apple itself has fixed the lack of multitasking (whether ideally or not) and could address the other issues with a second-generation tablet.

One example of the potential hole that HP could find itself in is PC World's list of suggestions to the company to "blow away" the iPad. If a 7-inch form factor, the Synergy social-media aggregation service, and the Exhibition feature are the best ideas the magazine has got for HP, then Apple won't have much to do to prepare itself for being blown away.

One area where HP could distinguish itself with a WebOS tablet is one the company probably doesn't want to go to: price. A $199 tablet could certainly move units, but that may come at the cost of bigger profits. But most consumers won't know the difference between a $199 WebOS tablet and a $299 Android tablet, so they could vote with their wallets.

Otherwise, HP will have to spend a lot of time convincing developers there's a large enough market of customers that they should be creating apps for its WebOS tablet(s) and any other mobile devices it announces. Already, the company is going to hold a meeting on February 9 to woo developers.

Does WebOS have a chance? With HP's marketing muscle and brand awareness, it can put up a fight -- if. If a tablet is ready to release almost immediately following the February announcement, if it's priced right, and if HP can get an app store up with a decent number of popular programs. Promising a WebOS tablet in the summer might just be too much time for Android tablets and the PlayBook and a new iPad to gain traction. After all, buyers with tablet fever won't wait for a beautiful UI when they have several other choices.

Luckily for HP, even as it needs to stand behind its Palm acquisition for the time being, it doesn't have to tie its whole tablet strategy to WebOS, like Apple has with the iPad. It can pull the plug, or de-emphasize the platform, if sales aren't soaring, and offer Android or Windows-based tablets if those have better commercial potential.

Sometimes (in fact, too often) better designed products can't win in the marketplace. Palm already experienced that with its Pre phone. HP may -- may -- have a similar defeat on its hands with its WebOS tablet. Obviously, the February 9 event will go a long way in answering that question. In the meantime, what do you think HP must do with its WebOS tablet to make sure it can compete with the iPad and Android tablets? Let us know in the Comment section.

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

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

34 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Does HP have the right strategy to take on the iPad and Android tablets?

    Make a tablet more computer than gaming device
    USB ports
    bigainla
    • RE: Does HP have the right strategy to take on the iPad and Android tablets?

      @bigainla
      Steve Ballmer, showed a HP Slate with those options last year at CES 2010!! good luck finding one at best buy...
      Hasam1991
  • One word: NO

    They haven't show anything worth looking at. Not even the vaporware (unreleased product) is grabbing any interest.
    wackoae
  • It's an insult

    to Apple to call Android an iPad equal.
    iPad-awan
    • RE: Does HP have the right strategy to take on the iPad and Android tablets?

      @iPad-awan wow and this shows the Apple fan boy ignorance!!! I use both and let me tell you Apple's iOS is showing some REAL age with respect to Android. Simple example widgets! Or how about on the fly voice based translation using Google translate. Oh yeah these two things don't exist! So your comment fails!
      serpentmage
      • RE: Does HP have the right strategy to take on the iPad and Android tablets?

        @serpentmage

        iPhone had Google Translate since 2008, before Android Market Place was even born. And I don't know anyone who talks about widgets or even care, besides the usual Android geek demographics found here.

        Just saying :-)
        dave95.
      • RE: Does HP have the right strategy to take on the iPad and Android tablets?

        @serpentmage
        Widgets are soo 2005 Windows Vista, no one really uses them anymore..
        Hasam1991
  • Answer

    "...what do you think HP must do with its WebOS tablet to make sure it can compete with the iPad and Android tablets?"

    This late in the game, HP would need a tablet that's capable of transforming into a 10 meter tall robot that diapers your baby, walks your dog, washes your car, and protects you from the Decepticon threat ... and all at a price-point less than 1/3 of it's nearest competitor.
    barneytheblueheeler@...
    • RE: Does HP have the right strategy to take on the iPad and Android tablets?

      @barneytheblueheeler@...

      Excuuuuuse me? Late in the game? ipad came out a year ago. Tab three months ago. This game is completely a baby. There is plenty of room for a good product to sell well. Besides, who needs to be #1. Apple can stay there. There is room for #2 and #3 and still make money and take market share.
      mstrsfty
      • RE: Does HP have the right strategy to take on the iPad and Android tablets?

        @mstrsfty
        Apple won, can't wait for ipad2
        Hasam1991
      • RE: Does HP have the right strategy to take on the iPad and Android tablets?

        @mstrsfty - how quick you forget, Apple had a huge start with the iPod Touch technology several years before the iPad was released.
        beau27
  • What does HP have to do?

    Well, for starters, offer us a tablet NOT based on an OS that is little more than spyware. We are finally seeing a push back against Google and their "data mining" ways, so offer an OS that keeps our data our own and people will come.

    Also, offer us a tablet that is not tied to Apple, iTunes, and the Cult of Steve. I want a tablet that can browse the web, handle email, and do light duty work without forcing me to join a cult of fanatics or install stinking POS software on my PC to manage it. Offer us a decent alternative to Apple's slick but ultimately flawed iPad and people will come.

    Finally, price is an important consideration. Tablets are a compliment to a PC, not a replacement, and should be priced accordingly. Apple can get away with selling their product at a premium because their followers are zombies who will pay exorbitant prices for anything with the fruit logo, regardless of how flawed. For the rest of us, anything over $200 is not going to sell, nor is an expensive data plan. I already pay for a cell phone, and will not add another price gouging plan on top of that. WiFi only would be fine with me, or perhaps a data plan tied to my existing service at a nominal fee. Tethering would be another option that I would consider.

    If HP can do that, they might succeed.
    itpro_z
  • This late in the game, HP will have to "buy" their marketshare

    That means selling the unit at or below cost to get some marketshare, then work on ways to make it up on the back end. The printer division knows exactly how to do this, because it's been their standard model of operation for decades. They make the profit on consumables, not the printer. If HP has a business model that allows them to sell the device cheap and make money post-sale, then they have a chance. Otherwise it will just be another also-ran. Apple has the name recognition. Android could still get clobbered by the dispersion problem; I have two different Android devices and NEITHER of them can use Android Market. If device makers continue with this fragmentation then Android just becomes a meaningless term because it's not ubiquitous or interoperable.
    terry flores
    • No.. they need devs and apps in a bad way..

      @terry flores.. that is what makes the iPad what it is.. the fact that it can be whatever you want it to be because you have such a huge choice of apps..

      they need to buy devs.. apple takes 30% of profits from apps on it's app store.. HP should offer only take 15-20% of profits from apps or if they really want to be aggressive.. only take 10%.. devs and apps are what they really need..

      they don't need to cheapen the brand by selling too low.. selling just a little bit cheaper than Apple would be good though... but not too low or you cheapen the brand..
      doctorSpoc
  • RE: Does HP have the right strategy to take on the iPad and Android tablets?

    HP could do well by addressing the pain points of both android and iOS.<br><br>pain points using iOS:<br><br>1. no (good) free navigation app <br>2. no flash support<br>3. native google apps with full functionality (eg. google voice) are generally not allowed<br><br>pain points using android:<br><br>1. use interface design is not at good as webOS<br>2. it is typically easier to design a good consumer electronic device by having control over both h/w and s/w design like apple. google does not have that but hp will<br>3. hp could allow the google apps that make android popular (eg. google maps, gmail client, google voice) on webos. i think google will be willing to port their apps as long as they are allowed to be one of the players that can monotize it using their add system. Currently apples owns ad distributuion in iOS apps through iAds. Googles main goal with android is to be a good hedge against apple and win7 so that they are not being cut out of serving ads to the mobile ecosystem. Thus they may not mind webos being popular as long as it takes share away froma apple and at the same time increase googles mobile ad market share. <br><br>In fact it may be a good idea to have google and other big vendors at the launch event with apps for the webOS platform.
    noCLue23
    • RE: Does HP have the right strategy to take on the iPad and Android tablets?

      @noCLue23 Google Voice is allowed, it's available now, although who wants a 10" telephone?
      alsobannedfromzdnet
    • the SkyFire Browser does Flash on iPad..

      @noCLue23 Flash Video is no problem on an iPad if you really want it.. and most don't miss it at all.. you can access Flash Video by using the SkyFire browser.. they transcode Flash Video in real time on the company servers and sends them to the iPad..
      doctorSpoc
  • RE: Does HP have the right strategy to take on the iPad and Android tablets?

    1- Convince developers to work on a robust hierarchical outline note app like Carbonfin for WebOS.
    2- Allow the tab to dock into desktop
    3- Allow the tab to make calls
    4- Launch a big campaign to educate the public on WebOS UI.
    gabvoice2@...
  • RE: Does HP have the right strategy to take on the iPad and Android tablets?

    At the moment Android does NOT have an iPad equal... there have been attempts - some good, most not - but so far no equal. The Android OS currently is not even optimized for a tablet form factor.

    I think that HP and WebOS would be a killer combo with a really decent mobile OS and great hardware... my issues with the palm offerings was that the hardware itself felt "cheap" and likely to break if one looked at it wrong... I didn't want to handle the demo model in the store because I didn't want to be stuck with paying for the damages.
    athynz
  • Subsidized the tablet to support the phones

    I love my Galaxy S hardware. <br>I have gotten used to the android operating system, but I LOVE WebOS. <br>The OS is ELEGANT, it makes everything else feel clunky.<br>If HP puts out some decent hardware, I'm on board.<br>License the OS! If I had WebOS on my Captivate, I would be a very happy camper.<br>That is if, there are enough apps.<br>So, aps are the key. <br>Apps like MP3 download, or Tube Mate that allow you to download and save videos and music. <br>Buy into the the tablet market, at a low price point, to create buzz for upcoming cellphones, they are the back in money stream the poster was looking for when he refereed to printers.
    yomoccaman@...