I started using Palm devices in 1997 and was a major fan for years, but finally grew tired of them when the Palm Pre became a rather stagnant smartphone. I have been buying lots of tablets lately, including the iPad 2, BlackBerry PlayBook, and HTC Flyer, but now that the HP TouchPad is available for pre-order I find I have no real urge to buy one. One of the major reasons I love my iPad and am likely going to get rid of my PlayBook is the number and quality of available applications and services so when I look at webOS and their Palm Catalog of smartphone apps at something over 5,000 after 2 years I don't see developers jumping on the TouchPad for quite some time.
I gave up on my original iPad, but went back to the iPad 2 when I found I really did miss the applications and services available on iOS. I don't find much use for tablets like the PlayBook with a very limited selection of applications and am feeling more strongly each week that the number and quality of apps is key to tablet success. Harry McCracken has a good article asking "Why Should Somebody Buy This Instead of an iPad?" in reference to other tablets.
Jason actually declared the HP TouchPad dead on arrival while James believes it may be the last stand for iPad competitors given that Honeycomb tablets have been mostly lackluster, in large part due to a small selection of available tablet applications. The HP TouchPad is launching at the same price as the cheapest iPad, PlayBook and most other tablets, which is not really a surprise to me. However, like Jason stated HP has a LOT more work to convince people the TouchPad is a compelling device and with price not being a differentiator I really don't see why you wouldn't just get an iPad 2.
We are starting to see that James' theory that there is not a viable tablet market outside the iPad may be a very true statement. Before the iPad launch everyone seemed to say the iPad was just a convenience device for those with too much money in their pockets, but Apple has shown the iPad reaches much further than such a small group of people. However, no other tablet has yet been able to achieve even close to the sales of the iPad and there really may not be a market for such devices. Apple succeeds with the iPad thanks in large part to the hundreds of thousands of apps and an ecosystem that makes the experience easy and enjoyable.
Palm and now HP has let webOS languish without advancing it much and I personally think HP will eventually let the smartphone business die out as they focus on tablets. However, to have any chance of succeeding with webOS tablets they need to get developers on board fast. Do you think there is a market for the HP TouchPad or even tablets other than the iPad?