|The HP TouchPad.|
Unlike Motorola, who just went ahead and slapped an $800 price tag on the Xoom, thereby consigning it to market irrelevance.
Apple's probably going to release the iPad 2 well before the TouchPad arrives, and it will probably be reasonably comparable with TouchPad's hardware specs. I'd expect it to be introduced at the current iPad price points, so that's really the price points that HP should be trying to hit. We're going to have to wait for HP to announce its price, no doubt until after they have more information about what Apple's doing.
The real key feature, though, is the software. The iPad already has thousands of titles written specifically for it, and hundreds of thousands when you count iPhone apps that can run on it. HP has lined up some of the usual suspects for WebOS, such as Skype. But they're going to have to work hard to get developers to support yet another platform.
Which is why, no doubt, they hired former Apple developer relations VP Richard Kerris to run their developer relations program. Kerris was most recently CTO at Lucasfilm, so he knows his way around technology. He's got his work cut out for him. Which makes it surprising that I don't see HP on the list of exhibitors at the upcoming GDC; Google's there, and Blackberry, but no HP. (Apple? They know they're the big dog everyone has to support if you're in the mobile space, so why waste their $60 billion cash hoard?) Seems like someone should tell HP that games are the number one application on smartphones. If you can attract game developers, other developers should follow.
Interestingly, HP did score one big victory: They inked a deal with Time to get Time, Sports Illustrated, People and other magazines to the TouchPad, enabling subscriptions. Which is something Apple has been unwilling to do, and it's a missed opportunity for them. Perhaps they'll be more inclined to make concessions to magazine publishers before they get completely left behind. One other interesting feature: A subscription to the regular magazine will get you access to the TouchPad edition as well. Now there's a useful feature, especially when you look at paying $3.99 for each edition of a magazine on the iPad.
For now, it's too early to say whether the TouchPad has a shot in the marketplace. Let's see what the price is, and how big a push HP intends to make. The other WebOS products they introduced today were the Pre 3 and the Veer, two smartphones that look quite interesting and useful (the Veer is the fisrt small form factor smartphone, which may well be appealing to the right market segment). HP's going to have to spend some serious money on marketing if they want to get people's attention. Good luck! More competition means better products at better prices, and consumers win.