Why the HP TouchPad has a chance

It's easy to think that because the iPad is the king of the tablets that others players have little chance of making a splash. Not true. HP's TouchPad might be just the thing to shake things up a little.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

It's easy to think that because the iPad is the king of the tablets that others players have little chance of making a splash. Not true. HP's TouchPad might be just the thing to shake things up a little.

Now, I don't for one moment underestimate what an absolute powerhouse Apple is, and how the company has not only been able to turn tablets into a mass-market product (something which was tried before, but which always failed), but also redefine the in the public's mind what a tablet is and does (for example, before the iPad the expectation was that a tablet would have to run Windows to be a mass market success).

But even with the iPad at number one, that still doesn't mean that there isn't room for other players. A good tablet could do well and bring in big bucks for the company behind it. And the HP TouchPad is a serious contender.

So, what does the TouchPad have to its advantage? Well, first there's price. The WiFi models will retail for $499 for the 16GB model, and $599 for the 32GB model ... in line with Apple's iPad pricing. The first mistake that competitors have done with their tablets is to price them above that of the iPad. Right now there just isn't the market for a premium 'non-iPad' tablet.

Next there's availability. July 1st, with pre-orders starting June 19th. Weeks, not months. This is important.

Then there's the webOS factor. Android has had some pretty bad press on tablets, especially Honeycomb, so there's a freshness to webOS. And webOS is a pretty decent platform. It saddens me to say it, but the fact that HP's offering is not an Android tablet is a advantage.

Also, let's not forget that the TouchPad looks like a decent bit of kit. Compared to a lot of tablets that have been released over the past few months, it's certainly not junky.

But ...

There are no guarantees. There's little in the way of an app ecosystem for the tablet, which could be a big problem for potential home and enterprise users. Apps are the backbone of the iOS platform and it's hard to see how any device that's not backed up by a mature ecosystem. That could take time - a lot of time - which could give the iPad even more market share.

What do you think? Does the TouchPad have a chance?

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