HP TouchPad app developers: Run to other platforms

HP TouchPad app developers: Run to other platforms

Summary: HP is offering TouchPads to developers for $150. The question is why should anyone develop apps for a dead platform?


A likely result of canceling a new product and admitting you are trying to sell off the platform that runs it is the defection of app developers to other platforms. Developers are in business to make a living, and that requires a steady, continuous user base to buy their apps.

When HP dumped the TouchPad and it became evident it was having trouble getting interested suitors for the webOS platform, developers began to jump platforms. HP is now offering developers a 32GB TouchPad for $150 to entice them to keep building apps for the doomed tablet.

On the surface this seems like a half-hearted program to make it appear that HP is still supporting the longevity of the platform. That may even be the reasoning behind it, but the reality is it is an anemic attempt to get app developers to accept the large risk that they may never recover time invested in the platform.

If HP was serious about continuing long-term with webOS, it would surely have given those TouchPads to developers. We're likely not talking about a lot of TouchPads, and the investment by HP would be well worth it to keep developers building apps. Instead, offering those developers vital to the webOS effort a device at the same price they sold them to everyone else smacks of a program that HP really doesn't care about.

I am often asked by current TouchPad developers if they should continue for a while, hoping that something positive comes out of HP's desire to sell the platform. In good conscience I can't recommend developers do that, as it puts the risk that HP will be able to do the right thing with webOS firmly on the developers' backs. That's not something I can do.

My advice to budding TouchPad developers, and that would be all of them, is to switch to making apps for Android tablets or the iPad. Give yourself a chance to make a living. There is no reason to believe you can do that with webOS.

Image credit: Flickr user boetter

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Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Apps, Software Development

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  • RE: HP TouchPad app developers: Run to other platforms

    Test comment, please disregard.
  • RE: HP TouchPad app developers: Run to other platforms

    I think for that price the entry point is low for learning how to develop mobile apps. It could be a low risk way to get into mobile app development, but with a very limited market and potentially dying market.
  • Better all tablet app devs start building for W8 tablets if they havent

    already. That's where the huge market will be and they will see others build clones of their apps first if they dont get there on day one themselves. There's still time for them to be in the market and ready for purchase on release day.
    Johnny Vegas
  • RE: HP TouchPad app developers: Run to other platforms

    James, sounds like you've given up on webOS. But I think there is still a good market for developers. I read speculation that 1.8 Million Touchpads are now in the hands of consumers. However, I do sense value is diminishing and if HP can't sell it or do anything within a few months it's going to be heart-breaking (if not already) to all the Touchpad owners.
    Sweat Studio
  • RE: HP TouchPad app developers: Run to other platforms

    In a related ZDNet blog about this topic, DannyO_0x98 made this succinct and insightful comment. "Beyond shedding inventory, I think the idea is to increase the numbers of signed-up developers so as to make WebOS a more attractive purchase."

    I agree completely.
  • They're in a cage

    For most mainstream developers, this is good advice. But someone who is looking for "a few extra bucks," as opposed to "a day job," might see the TouchPad installed base (which is probably a six-figure number after the $100 fire sale) as a captive audience with few places to look for help.

    Heck, there are people out there making money on software for Data General minis. Is that a career for someone in their twenties? No, but if you find someone who actually needs software for a Data General mini, you have them by the hairs. Software for orphan systems can be a highly profitable, if small, business for a few people.

    Somebody who cranked out a new game every six months for the TouchPads would probably bring in a few thousand a year for several years. What else are those people going to buy?
    Robert Hahn
  • RE: HP TouchPad app developers: Run to other platforms

    I am a current developer for webOS and android. I am fairly new to app development but found that webOS has a easier learning curve than android, for me anyways. I would recommend learning and developing apps for webOS but as a secondary choice for webOS is just to good for it to die off. Someone will buy and utilize it the way it should be I have no doubt about that. But I'm left wondering when?
  • RE: HP TouchPad app developers: Run to other platforms

    Run, don't walk to Andriod and or iOS! I really liked WebOS and still do. However, I'm moving to Android for phone very soon. My TouchPad is going serve me well with what it's got now (most of what I need). When it dies, I'll go to another Tablet too! Sigh.
  • Take into account tech-gadget lifespan.

    Maybe migrate away, yes. But why run? Most tech gadgets have a consumer-lifespan of several years anyway, discontinued or not, before buying the next. Exhibit A: Ipad 1 -> Ipad 2. So for the near term, with likely over a million consumers, I think Robert Hahn above makes an astute comment... there is money to be made, and it can be a good "learning" platform. Any good conceptual design of an app for webOS could then be leveraged into other growing webapp OS's/markets (of course, code rewritten, but even within the same OS code must evolve over time to retain value). So, don't be a sheep.... Use your analytical thinking rather than the black-and-white "It's cool" vs. "It's s**t" hamster-knee-jerk mentality that is so prevalent today.
  • RE: HP TouchPad app developers: Run to other platforms

    iPad..develop there.. there is a GLUT of apps there and you need to be special to catch on and make $$. The WebOS will give you a chance for higher recognition since there are so few apps... however, I have a TouchPad and an iPad and I have not bought an app on the TouchPad... I don't know its longevity so I am apt to buy apps on the iPad instead, since I know that will be around! Once I convert the TouchPad to Android or Win 8 then I won't have to worry! :)
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  • RE: HP TouchPad app developers: Run to other platforms

    The one advantage to developing for WebOS: you'll to be one of dozens, rather than one of thousands. So if Hapasnazz apps suddently become all the rage and you write one for WebOS you can pretty much be sure that your Hapansazz app wont be competing with twenty other Hapasnazz apps in your device's respective market.<br><br>But really, you'll have to think of it as a hobby rather than as a way to make a living. Developing for iOS will soon be like developing for the Amiga OS. There are still enthusiastic faithful, but probably no one uses the Amiga as their only computer.