HP officially launches webOS TouchPad ... again?

In one of the most confusing mobile launches ever HP started selling the TouchPad webOS tablet on 1 July, but then said the official retail launch was 17 July.

When HP bought Palm last year I was hoping we would see less confusing messages and a more targeted focus for webOS with lots of resources to turn out great products. Instead, we end up with a rather lame tiny smartphone and then a tablet that was put on sale and then "officially launched" almost three weeks later. Yes, in case you didn't know HP's official launch for the HP TouchPad webOS tablet was yesterday, 17 July. I guess the 1 July release was just a practice run or something.

Joshua Topolsky was able to get both HP's Stephen DeWitt and Jon Rubinstein in the room together for an interview on webOS and they confirmed that the earlier launch was just a soft launch and that 17 July was the big date when you would see all the retail promotions, etc. While I did see a Best Buy ad this weekend, there is nothing about this official launch on the Official HP Palm Blog and I haven't seen any press releases or other promotion about this being the official launch date.

I think Josh did a good job in pressing both men in the interview, especially trying to find out why in the world they announced an upgraded model 14 days after they started selling them in stores. I thought most of their answers were just typical corporate promotion and they sounded defensive to me. The "Because we can." response from Jon about the TouchPad 4G was lame and is not helpful to those who spent $500+ on a TouchPad WiFi model who wanted a 3G one.

I still don't understand this dual launch strategy, but they should have held the "official launch" until they released their planned update that supposedly fixes a lot of the software issues buyers and reviewers have been complaining about.

Even though my podcast co-host, Kevin Tofel, doesn't agree with me I have a feeling webOS will be centered on printers and maybe netbook like devices rather than smartphones and tablets in the long term and bringing in a guy focused on delivering low cost laptops to consumers appears to confirm this idea. HP can't seem to get the Pre 3 out the door and they still haven't told us which carriers will be getting the device so my confidence in this platform is near zero at the moment. That's quite sad considering I started as a Palm guy in 1997 and tried to stick with them as long as I could.

See also: