Global technology giant HP has poured a dash of cold water on the hopes of Australians keen to get their hands on its flagship tablet device launched yesterday, noting that the tablet wouldn't be coming down under until a range of other countries such as the US, Canada, Spain and even Mexico had it first.
The TouchPad tablet, unveiled by HP in the US yesterday, is based on technology acquired with its buyout of handset specialist Palm last year and represents HP's attempt to take on Apple's iPad, utilising Palm's rival WebOS operating system. HP also launched several new phones in the Pre range, the Pre 3 and the Veer.
However, in a statement yesterday, HP Australia's public relations manager for its Personal Systems Group Brad Swiney made it clear that Australia was not on the early deployment list for the devices, which are slated to hit the US in mid-2011. "HP will not be launching these WebOS devices in Australia at the same time as the US and at this early stage cannot speculate on local pricing," Swiney said.
Palm never launched the Pre in Australia, preferring instead to focus throughout 2009 on countries in the Americas and Europe, such as the US, Spain, Ireland, Germany, Canada and Mexico. Despite this, some users in Australia had imported the handset due to what was seen as its innovative and open operating system.
"Specific region and country availability details have not yet been announced; however, HP will first be targeting markets where WebOS is currently available," said Swiney.
The news has the potential to severely limit HP's share of the mobile operating system market in Australia, as a number of other smartphone and tablet manufacturers are planning major launches in Australia over the next few months, not just Apple, which is expected to launch new versions of the iPhone and iPad this year, but also a raft of Asian manufacturers such as HTC, Samsung and LG, which all have next-generation devices in the works.
Research In Motion is also planning to launch its PlayBook tablet this year, although the company has not yet confirmed Australian launch plans.
The news comes as Telstra yesterday revealed just how popular Apple and Android smartphones and tablets had proven among its customer base. Responding to a question from a journalist, Telstra chief executive David Thodey said Telstra had sold some 400,000 Apple iPhones in the second half of 2010, and registered some 70,000 iPads. "New iPhones was 400,000," the CEO said. "And if you want to keep going, 290,000-something Android smartphones in the first half as well," he said.