Quick Thoughts on the HP Announcement

I like the products, I don't like the event.

What's impressive

I like the devices.  I am disappointed that the tablet doesn't have a stylus, but HP is clearly going for the media player space, and it's a worthy competitor there.  The Android tablets and PlayBook start to look kind of weak in comparison.

I like the idea of a smaller smartphone.  It's something Apple should have done with iPhone.  (It did the same thing very successfully with iPod; why not iPhone?)

I like the integration between the phones and tablets. That's a smart move.  The more HP can make this a competition of product families, the more of a disadvantage the Android cloners will be at.

I like the apparent attention to detail in all of the products.  As you'd expect from a team headed by a former Apple guy, HP/Palm understands hardware-software integration and how to make a product feel good to use.  Even if you never buy one of the HP products, you'll benefit from what it's doing because HP is challenging everyone else in the industry to step up their design and integration skills.  Samsung and Lenovo, take note.

And I love the idea of putting this same OS on personal computers.  It's bold, it's scary, it's...uh, it makes HP look a lot like Apple.  Maybe instead of "Think Beyond" they should have called the event "Think Similar."

And how ironic that HP is moving toward having its own OS just as Nokia is moving toward (reportedly) running someone else's.

What's not impressive

I disagree strongly with the timing and content of the announcement.  I am not talking about the length of it.  Yeah, they went too long, but it's not a big deal in the ultimate scheme of things.  I think there's a much deeper problem here.  Good marketing is like a fan dance -- you don't reveal as much as people think you do, and you always leave them wanting a bit more.  HP built up the expectation that its new products would be available immediately, and then announced stuff that will ship sometime in summer, if not later.  We don't even know prices yet.  This gives competitors a huge amount of time to react, and more importantly the products themselves are going to seem old by the time they ship.

This isn't a fatal mistake, but I think it would have been far more effective if HP had discussed the products only in a "secret" event for developers.  The news still would have leaked, but rather than being disappointed we would have been tantalized and eager to hear more in the months to come.

HP may be developing products more like Apple, but it's still marketing like HP.


reeder29 said...

I'm likewise disappointed that only the Veer will ship soon. The Pre3 cuts the rug from under the Pre2, and the Pre2 isn't even widely available yet! WebOS 2.x is taking a long time to arrive.

IR sharing was on every PalmOS device - but only power users used it. Will Touch-to-Share be more popular with ordinary users?

I still have no sense of whether this will get ordinary people to try webOS.

Anonymous said...

i hope the overall quality of the hardware is at least decent. i sell and repair used computers. one thing i can tell you with certainty, is that HP/Compaq's are the absolute worst when it comes to the reliability and quality. particularly the pavilion laptop line.

the slate looks great but if the break easily they have no way to compete against apple's quality.

Jake said...

wholeheartedly, 100% agree with your conclusions.

Jake said...

@anonymous. I'm not in the repair business, but my experience has been the Pavilion line and the Toshiba brand are at the bottom of the list in laptop quality. I've returned to Thinkpads. They're tanks

Michael Yam said...

I like the idea of a smaller smartphone. It's something Apple should have done with iPhone. (It did the same thing very successfully with iPod; why not iPhone?)

I use my iPhone as a phone less than 10% of the time. A smaller smartphone wouldn't help me since I like the larger screen to read, to text, to watch videos.

And I love the idea of putting this same OS on personal computers.

Shades of Folio!! This sounds less like Apple and more like Hawkins' original idea of putting Linux / PalmOS on a notebook that communicates with a Treo. Hawkins idea didn't take hold, but he was ahead of his time. I hope HP has more success.

Anonymous said...

I believe HP might have made a dangerous assumption that developers will flock to Webos with HP in the helm.
Developers will go where there is $$ to be made and that means volume.

During the Dev session, HP announced that the new sdk would be the way to go for webos 3.0. That would mean current developed application can run in emulation in Pre 3, but developement if native would need to be redone again in the new SDK.
Webos as it stands lacks functionality in 2.0 compared to even the venerable Palm OS, from a calendering, scheduling, PIM perspective, and now they are forcing developers who'have stayed with palm on the lurch again!!..
I'd say for developers, it'd only get worst before it gets better...and now with NO new devices until summer? who are developers going to sell to??