HP is hoping to stake its claim over the tablet PC market, and possibly to even provide competition to the iPad. This does not seem like a likely assumption, but HP webOS still seems like it can stand on its own. At least a little bit.
The Touchpad, which is HPs newest tablet to be released in July, is going to come in with a 9.7-inch design that will closely match the iPad. This comes after the strange failure of the HP Slate 500 PC; a device that was often said to have better specs than the iPad yet still was left in the dust. This newest incarnation is closer to the overall interface of the iOS, and even has a similar pricing scheme of $499.99 for the 16GB and $599.99 for the 32GB.
The webOS is going to be the really key to any possible success that the HP Touchpad may have. Though lacking a real home screen, there is a launch option that allows you to get to the useful apps and ones you have installed. The global search box so that you can search through absolutely everything, from email messages to apps to web pages. This really does centralize the use of the tablet and allow you to utilize your entire device based on inspired search criteria. Everything starts with their typing and you do not always have to think of where something is, what the right app is, or where to start since it is more of a streamlined operation. This kind of simplicity may end up being what tablet users wanted all along, though it does tend to break things down to the lowest common denominator.
The multitasking of the webOS on the Touchpad takes a major leap from the iOS in that it allows you to actually organize what you have been working on so that you can come back to it in the appropriate order. This allows them to be stacked in a way that is much more intuitive for people who come from working on their home computer, and really lend itself to the idea that you can actually work on projects with the Touchpad rather than just behave as a spectator, which is often the feel with an iPad.
One of the real triumphs of the webOS is the integration of social networking and planning functions. Though the iOS 5 is heavily weighting on social networking by embedding Twitter and upgrading things like Game Center and Mail, The HP Tablet actually makes these different services centralized by bringing together the content of one into the functionality of another. A great example of this, which is harped on by HP themselves, is that your Facebook birthdays will show up into your contacts and calendars. This will require you to more consciously run your social networking accounts so as to not be overwhelmed, but it could really help push social network integration into the future.
Until the announcement of the Notifications Center on the iOS 5 they were very invasive, and that is something that the webOS is designed to avoid. Here the notifications just pop up discreetly with a little bit of the relevant message so you can see if you should disengage with what you are working on and jump over or not. What this really allows for is to keep the operating system running more like a computer where one app or feature does not completely dominate the screen in the way the iOS does, which is really why the notifications become such a problem on the iDevices.
The integration between devices is also going to rival its Apple competitors, especially now that the HP Touchpad will be able to integrate with the HP Pre so directly. You can be looking at a website on your HP Pre and ‚Äö√Ñ√∫bump‚Äö√Ñ√π it into your HP Touchpad and allow it to be brought up on that tablet. In reality, the HP Touchpad may not have iCloud as we have begun to know it, but there will be a full form of integration so in reality your entire web based content will be available through your comparable HP devices. In a way this is pushing your interaction, creation, work, and content more online than it was before, though it will be more diversified through existing sources like Facebook and others.
Like the iOS, the webOS is an ‚Äö√Ñ√∫internet centric‚Äö√Ñ√π operating system that is designed to work with the Internet at all times. This is really central to the tablet experience rather than that of a computer: it is a portal to various Internet functions and not just a stand along computer device. This is really why it is going to be so centered on drawing together everything from email to photos to social networking, because all those things are now linked together by the Internet. This is same move that Apple has made with iMessages and iCloud, yet those things have a much larger customer base and marketing campaign behind them.
The question now is whether or not the HP Touchpad is any sort of competitor to the iPad. Many in the blogosphere have been arguing in its favor stating that it has thousands of apps available, though there are 90,000 iPad apps at the App Store. They will also point out that the seamless tablet printing is much better than the limited AirPrint on the iPad, but does this really matter to the consumers that are buying it? The reality is that most people already intuitively understand the iOS interface and see the iDevices as the logical device for purchase, and all others are the underdog. It does not matter if the HP Touchpad is better under the hood or in features because the iPad is the known device with an intrinsic Apple following. It would take a complete game changer to usurp its market dominance, and that is something that may even supersede what we consider a tablet in the first place. The HP Touchpad is going to be a winning device, but the real question is if the average person will see it and decide that it is worth giving up their iChic.