Five lessons tablet OEMs can learn from HP TouchPad fiasco

Five lessons tablet OEMs can learn from HP TouchPad fiasco

Summary: Lesson One: Don't launch a product, launch an ecosystem.

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So, HP's TouchPad tablet went from launch to having the plug pulled on it in 49 days. What lessons can other tablet OEMs learn from this fiasco.

Don't launch a product, launch an ecosystem

One of the biggest mistakes that HP made with the TouchPad was to  release a product and then hope that an ecosystem would magically form around it. Things might have worked that way with the iPhone, but that was a long time ago and the platform didn't have much in the way of competition.

Why should consumers gamble on a product like the TouchPad (and HP's lack of commitment to the platform shows just how much of a gamble it was) when there is an established player in the market.

New products entering the market now need to have an ecosystem that users can tap into. If a company wants to launch a product without a decent ecosystem to support it, then that company better have invested in time travel technology, because the only way it's going to work is to travel back in time to a world before the iPad.

Have a little faith in your products

How much faith do you think HP had in the TouchPad to trash the project in 49 days?

When consumers by a PC or a tablet or a smartphone, they don't just want a device, they want to see a long-term commitment from the vendor in the form of updates and apps. This means that users expect a vendor to properly support a product for a decent length of time (a few years).

If HP can bin the TouchPad so rapidly, how committed is it to its other products and services? What message does this send customers and potential customers?

Don't expect a weekend blockbuster

I'm not really sure how many TouchPads HP was expecting to sell in the first year, but I can't imagine how bad the initial sales had to be for the company to dump the product after less then two months.

Did HP expect the TouchPad to be an overnight success? Seriously? Has hardware gone the way of movies where success or failure is judged on the basis of the first weekend? I hope not.

Don't take people's money if you can't deliver

Companies don't operate in a vacuum, and dumping products shortly after releasing them isn't a good way to build long-term consumer confidence.

Think about it - if you'd just bought a TouchPad, would you be in the mood to buy another HP product in a hurry?

Unknown operating systems are a gamble

People have heard of Windows and Mac, and Android and iOS. webOS came from nowhere and HP expected people to embrace it without giving customers a solid 'why'. The promise of apps and updates wasn't enough (and given that the platform died within a couple of months, can you blame people for being wary).

If you're going to bring out a tablet with an unknown OS, take the time to actually sell it to customers.

Where do you think HP went wrong with the TouchPad?

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Topics: Tablets, CXO, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

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45 comments
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  • RE: Five lessons tablet OEMs can learn from HP TouchPad fiasco

    Or possibly more simply, if you're not Apple: don't.
    Jeremy-UK
    • RE: Five lessons tablet OEMs can learn from HP TouchPad fiasco

      @Jeremy-UK
      You are too optimistic.
      Some give 40+% of marketshare for Android powered tablets in 2012.

      Yes Apple is supreamly succesfull (from the begining of tablet saga!), but others can catch up it they are willing to go throught "harsh" begining.
      przemoli
      • RE: Five lessons tablet OEMs can learn from HP TouchPad fiasco

        @przemoli But will the OEMs actually make any money? Android hasn't been a "pot of gold" thus far, Apple's ability to price the iPad low has REALLY hurt OEMs hoping to make money out of tablets, and sales of those tablets have been "disappointing".<br><br>Is this a good game for an OEM? Nope.
        Jeremy-UK
      • RE: Five lessons tablet OEMs can learn from HP TouchPad fiasco

        @przemoli <br><br>Even the most conservative estimates for iPad sales put it around the mid-30M. Apple has stated (and reports from their suppliers confirm) that they are selling them as fast as they can make them. Projecting their current sales rate through to 2012, Apple will have sold roughly 50M by the end of 2011, and probably somewhere in the 70M range by the middle of next year. That means, Android makers would have to sell 28M tablets next year to capture 40% of the tablet market by mid-2012, even more the later in the year you go. That just doesn't seem likely at all.<br><br>Given the supply constraints Apple faces, I'm not so sure catching up is going to be possible regardless of how harsh the first few steps are.
        Andre Richards
      • RE: Five lessons tablet OEMs can learn from HP TouchPad fiasco

        @przemoli LOL! Only the delusional. Android tablets have been a dismal failure. The only Android tablet with any sort of moderate success is the Galaxy Tab. It's not even going to have half of that. Windows 8 tablets will stomp Android in the tablet market.
        jhammackHTH
      • RE: Five lessons tablet OEMs can learn from HP TouchPad fiasco

        @przemoli Perhaps you misread that forty percent. Android phones have a forty percent return rate. Not stellar for such an iPhone killer is it.
        dheady@...
      • RE: Five lessons tablet OEMs can learn from HP TouchPad fiasco

        @przemoli True that. Android is @ 49% worldwide smartphone marketshare. Give them a year and it will be the same in tablets. No matter how many iPads get sold, there is no way they can compete with 20 vendors releasing comparable tablets, especially @ cheaper prices.
        Jimster480
      • RE: Five lessons tablet OEMs can learn from HP TouchPad fiasco

        @jhammackHTH

        Perhaps you have never heard of the Asus Transformer? By all counts it s the best selling Android tablet. Not even Samsung can match it.
        CyberGuerilla
  • bcs@informationworkshop.org

    Here's an article that looks at the myriad of intangibles that directly affect success, including as you say, "starting with the why." http://techvessel.tv/?p=1102
    Mark Hernandez
    • Here's a lesseon learned: HTML5 is junk

      It does not have a snow ball chance build a fine platform to compete against the real deal be it in a desktop, tablet or mobile world.
      LBiege
  • RE: Five lessons tablet OEMs can learn from HP TouchPad fiasco

    Sounds like what happened to IBM with the Windows CE WorkPad.
    dleonis@...
  • RE: Five lessons tablet OEMs can learn from HP TouchPad fiasco

    I agree with the first 4 lessons/points, but the 5th one isn't correct. WebOS is, arguably, and I'm sure most critics would agree, one of the best mobile OS out there. I think it has much more appeal in terms of functionality, usability and overall look & feel than Android or iOS for that matter. It might have been unknown only because Palm miserably failed marketing it and HP was, I'm short of words here, maybe another catastrophic failure?
    HP went wrong pretty much on every step, everyone knows that by now. But the biggest failure in my opinion was to try to model their first tablet, hardware-wise, after the 1st gen iPad. I don't know why HP, with their enormous resource pool couldn't come up with a better piece of hardware, both internally and externally. Why does everyone have to follow Apple (no doubt their designs are awesome)? I don't know why they hushed their announcement of the tablet without making WebOS hardware-optimized. Given that WebOS is so different and brilliant (it does lack the polish, though, where iOS shines), why couldn't HP capitalize there and think out-of-the-box in terms of hardware. They were already a year behind the 1st gen iPad and everyone knows that Apple comes with a refresh every year - they should have foreseen that and come up with a drastically better design and a hardware-optimized OS, followed by an immediate launch which remains a dream for Mr. Leo.
    akshayvora
    • RE: Five lessons tablet OEMs can learn from HP TouchPad fiasco

      @akshayvora While WebOS might be a wonderful tablet, mobile device OS it reminds me of how OEMs try to 'out hardware' the iPad with little to no success. Adding a USB port doesn't make a tablet device an iPad killer. Bring tens of thousands of apps in a tightly controlled (read no malware to speak of) ecosystem that has a proven track record and it begins to add up. No one, not Google, or any hardware OEM has come close to that ecosystem, combined with Apple's customer support and reputation for quality product and again, no one comes close. WebOS was just another USB port in the battle.
      dheady@...
    • The best technology does not always win out ...

      @akshayvora ... because, in the end, user perception is tough to overcome. Consumers understand that Apple sells premium products at premium prices. HP tried to sell its tablet at Apple price-points. HP can no longer afford to sell commodity products. That's why they are trying to dump their PC business. Instead of "killing off" the TouchPad, they should have kept it alive and given their PC division a chance to turn it into a commodity product at commodity prices. Ironically, to Amazon go the spoils.
      M Wagner
  • RE: Five lessons tablet OEMs can learn from HP TouchPad fiasco

    webOs has actually been along for a few years, the original Palmpre implemented it. However it was junky and they've only been promising Adobe Flash "soon" for the past 2 years. All in all, I feel sorry for any person who purchased one of these 200$ paper-weights.
    Deirg
    • RE: Five lessons tablet OEMs can learn from HP TouchPad fiasco

      @Deirg
      The TouchPad was sold exclusively through Harvey Norman in Australia. In saying that, it only came on the market 5 days ago. From what I have been reading, everyone who bought a TouchPad will be offered a refund. Mind you, that is only 1,200 people. However, an offer of a refund is certainly the most ethical option.
      Wakemewhentrollsgone
  • Was Apole's ecosystem a happy accident?

    I wonder because I would say the ecosystem began with iTunes and the iPod not the iPhone. Granted it was small but I will agree that the iPhone put the ecosystem inti high gear. The point being iTunes is now what close to a decade old and Apple was allowed through either superb planning or dumb luck to grow it at a medium pace:). Something anyone else who wants to create the same thing faces a daunting task for they have to create it right now! However I would point this out that regardless this happy accident or well planned strategy is not something one can put blame on Apple for. Apple took the initiative and the risk and it paid off. Same thing for Apple having the money and for sight to purchase components in bulk. After all it's iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone use the same components witch is yet another either happy accident or smart/wise planning:)

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
    • RE: Five lessons tablet OEMs can learn from HP TouchPad fiasco

      @James Quinn I suspect Apple does little that isn't planned. On the other hand, my wife contends that the whole app store concept was not in Jobs' original vision for the iPhone. If you review his keynote in 07 where he introduced the iPhone he pushed html5 as the app generator. It took another year for him to acquiesce and allow developers to develop in a native on device environment.
      That said, if he had indeed been against an app store concept then it speaks to his, and Apple's ability to quickly and effectively respond to the market and its developers.
      dheady@...
      • Jobs made a key point about his venture capital friend

        @dheady@...

        The key point was that his friend was investing in the App Store concept and the "grass roots" iPhone app developers. But I'm not sure that happened during the initial iPhone keynote speech introduction or when the second gen model was introduced.
        kenosha77a
    • Absolutely right, PJ, the ecosystem started with iTunes

      @James Quinn

      And, as iTunes grew, the concept of online purchasing of digital content was established in the Apple ecosystem.
      kenosha77a