HP/Palm webOS Tablet Rivals Android, iPad in the Channel
Thanks to Engadget, you’re looking at an alleged leaked image of the HP/Palm webOS tablet. It’s slated for release Feb. 9, 2011, in 7-inch and 9-inch versions along with lots of other goodies (maybe even a webOS netbook). But up against the iPad 2, a veritable onslaught of Android tablets and the Blackberry Playbook, does HP/Palm stand a chance? Read on and decide for yourself.
Codename “Topaz,” for the 9-inch version and “Opal” for the 7-inch model, HP’s webOS tablet is expected to come with a 1.2GHz CPU of an unknown origin, a front-facing camera, micro USB port, stereo speakers, a glossy-black back and, apparently, some kind of buttonless front with a touch bezel. From the pictures, it certainly has the snazzy, sexy style you’d want when distinguishing yourself from the gray-black rectangles of the Android tablet world. Engadget’s source claims that a WiFi model will be released first with AT&T and Verizon 4G models coming thereafter.
But will HP/Palm’s device fare well amid the sea of existing tablet contenders? It may, and there are two words to describe why resellers might want to work with HP if they’re not already: brand familiarity. While Motorola is a well-known wireless brand, only recently has it become synonymous with high-level Android consumer tablets and smart phones. What’s more, the bevy of other vendors hawking Android tablets — Vizio, LG, Toshiba and others — have decidedly less brand recognition with the channel.
HP/Palm also has going for it a much more ‘tested’ mobile operating system. Android for phones has been plenty tested and is finally coming into its own, but the Android Honeycomb tablet experience looks good but hasn’t seen any play yet with consumers. webOS, on the other hand, has been around for a while and has the associated amount of polish. Like Apple before it, HP/Palm took the best of its small-screen devices and scaled them up to a big screen in a way that is fluid without requiring a learning curve. That kind of shift isn’t as jarring to consumers as the tablet overhaul that Android has coming will be.
Throw in the huge support that HP/Palm can provide (vs. the variable carrier/vendor-level support fragmentation that Android tends to have) and you have a compelling product that could rival the iPad more than Android in the channel.