HP claims do over with TouchPad launch

HP claims do over with TouchPad launch

Summary: The first HP tablet running its webOS system went on sale a couple of weeks ago, but according to a couple of company executives the real launch of the TouchPad was yesterday, July 17.

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The crowds you heard cheering yesterday weren't for the women's World Cup finals, they must have been for the "relaunch" of the HP TouchPad. Yes, the first HP tablet running its webOS system went on sale a couple of weeks ago, but according to a couple of company executives the real launch was yesterday, July 17. That's when sales began in earnest according to an interview with Joshua Topolsky of This is My Next.

The statements about the real launch were in response to Topolsky's questioning the pair about why HP released the TouchPad with bugs that need to be patched immediately. The response was that the original launch was in effect a dry run. No matter how HP tries to spin it, the fickle response to the TouchPad release points out the big hurdles HP is facing with webOS.

The executives making the statements to Topolsky were none other than Jon Rubinstein and Stephen DeWitt. DeWitt is the executive that HP has just put in charge of webOS for the company, replacing ex-Palm CEO Rubinstein who now takes an "innovation" role with the company. These are the two guys at the very top of the HP webOS organization spanning both TouchPad launches. Their responses about the lukewarm reception to the TouchPad smacked of spin control to make way for the future.

The mobile game is not a sprint according to pundits, it is a marathon and that is what HP is preparing to run with webOS. What that old adage doesn't address is that in the rapidly moving mobile space, you have to be invited to run the race. Just as importantly, the race has already begun. That is the position HP is in currently with webOS, trying to get invited to run the race the rest of the pack are already running. The race may be a marathon, but it is fraught with hurdles that HP must be prepared to jump to stay in the race.

The webOS history is short but it is important to remember. The original Palm Pre phone running webOS was the product aimed at saving Palm from demise, and the lackluster sales didn't deliver on that goal. The refresh of the Pre (Pre 2) delivered more of the same, with the same result. Dismal sales figures cemented the need for Palm to find a buyer to keep the webOS platform, if not the Palm name, going forward. HP stepped in to the tune of $1.2 billion to buy Palm, a transaction really executed to get hold of the webOS platform as the only thing of that value Palm offered.

The first webOS tablet was watched very closely when released this month to see if HP had stepped up to bring a winning product to market. Reviews of the TouchPad were consistent, and unfortunately for HP not in a good way. The tablet exhibited bugs that would have to be squashed quickly to give HP any chance at all in the hot tablet segment. That HP's official response was to claim "do over" with the launch wasn't reassuring to those watching the first webOS released by HP.

HP has a big task ahead of it with webOS. It probably can't go anywhere in the phone space with the platform as it basically has already failed with that. The Pre 3 that was demonstrated in February this year didn't show any groundbreaking features to set it apart from the earlier Palm handsets. Those didn't sell well so there is no reason to expect the Pre 3 to do any better in the market.

The tablet segment presents a brand new area to take webOS, but releasing a buggy product in the TouchPad didn't do HP any favors. The onus is on the company to get all bugs patched and really quickly to have a chance. There was little wiggle room for HP's TouchPad launch, and having to relaunch it didn't cut it. I personally like the TouchPad I bought on launch day, or make that prelaunch day I guess, but that's just me. The tablet space is highly competitive as Android device makers will attest, and as the new platform on the block HP better get really solid and quickly. It is doable I believe, but it better happen soon.

HP is making noise about putting webOS on other devices like printers, and there is business potential for that. The problem with that effort is that it won't extend webOS as a platform as far as consumers are concerned. The printers will represent just another line of such products from HP, and that doesn't keep the $1.2 billion platform name front and center.

HP has talent and resources to make a good run with webOS, but it better get things in order immediately. The race has already begun and it will take a flawless performance by HP to have any chance to be in contention.

Image credit: Flickr user iowa_spirit_walker

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Topics: Tablets, Hewlett-Packard, Mobile OS, Mobility, Operating Systems

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5 comments
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  • RE: HP claims do over with TouchPad launch

    What? HP launched a tablet? I was wondering why I didn't know about this product. And then James kindly informed me that something occurred recently that might explain what the minor fuss was about at my local Best Buy. Well, there you go. I learned something new today.
    kenosha77a
  • Forget the launch, that wasnt the problem, the TouchPad itself needs

    a do-over. Unfortunately from what I hear it it's actually getting one but not one that's going to address the real issues and make it competitive. So it's probably going to be the worse than doing nothing, piss off the people who already bought the lame hw version at the overpriced cost, and still be uncompetitve and not sell anyway. Way to go HP. Now continue on with your plan to outsource the future development and maintenance of webos to india to ensure it never becomes a viable contender and dies a very slow and painful (for your customers) death. This is sad, like watching a train wreck in slow motion sad...
    Johnny Vegas
  • Half-baked products do not create much buzz.

    IMHO. you there RIM?
    systemx
  • I call BS

    If HP really believes it's a marathon, they wouldn't have released it yet.<br><br>See, what HP is failing to see is that they are incapable of generating buzz like Apple is. A tablet that doesn't make everyone go "ZoMg MuSt HaVeEeEe!!!11" isn't necessarily a failure - as many pundits on ZDNet seem to be very quick to label it. HP has had an image problem for some time. Their old stuff, like the Laserjet 8000DN I've got next to my desk, was known for being heavy and expensive, but very well made and extremely reliable. At some point around the early 00's, they decided to cash in a few fiscal quarters by making their stuff out of plastic and making their support lines utterly useless.<br><br>The complaints about the Palm Pre/2/3 were all the same - the software was great, but the body was pure plastic. I'm pretty sure that if HTC made a WebOS phone that it would have taken off MUCH better, since HTC phones generally have good build quality. This whole article focuses on the software and business/timing decisions of HP with WebOS devices, but there wasn't a single mention of the hardware and the problems there. Also, the article fails to mention that the Palm Pre was originally carrier exclusive to Sprint, a carrier in distant third, and at the time of its release, was getting plenty of bad press about their customer service. To compare that to AT&T at the time of the iPhone launch (which at that point was pretty well liked by their customers) neglects some very important details.<br><br>If HP is really in the game for the marathon, here's what they need to do:<br><br>-Consider present Touchpad owners beta testers, and give them all half-off coupons for the "real" Touchpad, which would address the weight and battery issues.<br><br>-Spend the time between now and November doing QA testing. Lots of it. Squash out as many bugs as conceivably possible.<br><br>-Free cloud backup and sync features for consumers.<br><br>-Provide a product similar to Blackberry Enterprise Server for companies.<br><br>-Piss off a few shareholders. If they're happy between now and Christmas, you're doing it wrong.

    Releasing a tablet doesn't get anyone any buzz - there's the iPad and there's...everything else. If HP wants it to be "there's the iPad, the Touchpad, and...everything else", they've got work cut out for them that I truly believe they COULD do, but the fact that their laptops sell well because of their generally good prices don't apply to tablets or phones. If that kind of thinking guides their business strategy for phones and tablets, it will be more of the same.

    <br><br>Joey
    voyager529
  • RE: HP claims do over with TouchPad launch

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