Yet another commotion was witnessed in the mobile computing space when HP pulled out of tablets and mobiles. Just a year has passed when HP bought the business of Palm i.e. selling mobile devices for $1.2bn. Till now, HP had been banking on Palm’s webOS operating system to have a good market share of tablet and smartphone markets: in Feb 2011 HP demoed its very first webOS tablet along with Veer and Pre3- two webOS smartphones.
WebOS was glossy and intuitive and featured multitasking and notifications. The UI was quite innovative and sensitive and the features like multitouch gestures, Flash and HTML5 were some of the features which WebKit browser supported. Talking about the hardware part of the smart phones, they had shiny touch screens along with slide-out QWERTY keyboards which offered the best input. On the aesthetics front, handset comfortably sat in the palm and edges were rounded. The tiny Veer was gorgeous but was small enough to be compared to a pebble and the TouchPad was very handsome but a chunkier iPad.
With software and hardware the comparisons with Apple’s products were unavoidable and the industrialists wondered if TouchPad can give competition to the iPad. The answer obtained is a simple no. HP is no more using its webOS devices businesses and if it decides to sell the software or license it, webOS is facing reduced dignified downgrading to powering printer hardware. HTC can perhaps make a good suitor- a shame it’s too late for Nokia.
The end of TouchPad tells many things like it notifies that the hardware and software are not enough to compete in this mobile market alone especially when Apple now has its own premium end of market. Also it indicates that the vertical integration which is although a popular notion presently but is no magic bullet in mobile. In addition to this, RIM has also failed to compete with Apple and Android with its ageing mobile business by owing its software and hardware. Other things which the end of TouchPad has to tell include ecosystems like lacking apps which are essential for any successful mobile platform, the unbeatable Apple’s market which has acquired most of the market essentially the domination of tablets, and the x factor that you need to have to compete with Apple and make your own name in this market and become customers choice.