As a WebOS fan, I’ve been following the rise (kind of), abrupt and sudden fall, and finally the launch of the now defunct TouchPad by HP. I certainly wanted one when the product was launched, but felt them a little pricey. Then, came the sudden announcement that the product was killed a mere seven weeks into its life. At that point, I no longer desired one. Then, like a great mystery, the plot turned once again. Now, they were $99 and like an apparently very large portion of the US consumer market, I wanted one again. I was one of the unfortunate people caught in order limbo thinking I had one, only to have my order abruptly canceled a few days later.
So, here I am. On the outside looking in. I’m not going to use this space to rail on the shortsightedness and lack of vision by HP. That would just be too easy. Instead, I’ve read a fair amount of articles on why you should or should not buy one. There are a number of them out there for your reading pleasure, but I’ve especially got to thank Bill Palmer at Beatweek for his heavy handed post that thrashed the idea of buying a TouchPad altogether. I hope that a great many people read his article. It will make it that much easier for me to pick one up. In response to this post, I’m going to give you ten reasons why a $99 TouchPad is a great pickup (if you can get one)
- By adding the Kindle App, you get more than a Kindle for less than the price of a Kindle. Email, browser, games, etc. That would probably be enough, but wait. There’s more………
- A FREE 50GB of storage at box.net. That’s a $19.99 value that can be shared amongst your family.
- Flash! Despite what they’d have you believe, HTML5 is not yet all the way here. So, when you are ready to lose Apple’s Interent training wheels, you can reach for ‘that other pad’ and experience the rest of the Internet. There are a lot of well done Flash sites out there. It would be a shame to miss some of them.
- It’s a great way to un-tether from your computer. What do most people use their tablets for? Checking email, Twitter, Facebook, surfing the web, etc. The TouchPad does all of that.
- WebOS is a great operating system. It is easy enough that all but the most dense among us will be able to start using it productively right away. Also, despite it’s limited lifespan in hardware, HP is still actively developing the operating system. They really want to license the os (good luck), but if need be, they will sell it. That would be a lot more difficult if they shuttered the project and fired all of the engineers that work on it.
- The Android community is very actively working on a port. For the more technically inclined among us, you’ll be able to to run Android on some dandy hardware within the coming weeks. Where else are you going to find an Android tablet on this kind of hardware for $99? That’s right. Nowhere. For the even more geeky, there is an active project that’s porting Ubuntu Linux to the pad. Both the Android and Ubuntu projects are currently booting from a USB stick. Therefore, you could ultimately have your choice of three operating systems on the same hardware without any of them interfering with the others. Where else are you going to get that?
- You are NOT running a big risk of getting a virus. This is just silly. Like I said before, the operating system is still actively being developed. Any security holes that would crop up will be addressed at least for the near term, and that’s all we’re really looking at here (see note 10). Additionally, WebOS is Linux. It springs from the same tree as the Android and is a close cousin to iOS. While not impervious to malware, because of the nature of Unix/Linux it’s just a lot harder to pull off and there’s just less malware out there for the platforms.
- If you want to get your kids a netbook, this would make a nice alternative. There is a document editing app called Quick Office that comes with the TouchPad and Picsel Smart Office should be available within a few weeks. It’s a great machine for simple homework and research.
- App developers are still actively writing apps for WebOS. It is true that many have jumped ship and some may never return, but the fact remains that HP will wind up selling about a million TouchPads before they close the books on it for good. That’s a million potential software buyers. Somebody is going to meet that market even if it’s only a niche. You won’t have the volume of apps that are available for the iPad or the Android tablets, but you WILL have options. The second part of this is, there WILL be accessories available. This pretty much matches my point above. A million devices is simply going to be too much for some manufacturers to resist. Going back to the days of Palm, WebOS fans are rabid and they will buy. With a million devices in the wild, there will be more WebOS fans.
- The lifecycle of the TouchPad is going to be about the same as it will be for any other tablet. Apple already has an end of life in mind for the iPad and iPad 2. Don’t believe me? Ask any iPhone 3G owner how their phone is doing. Planned obsolescence will take the iPads out every two to three years. You’ll be tossing out your TouchPad about that same time. The only difference will be that you spent 1/5 to 1/8 for the TouchPad (assuming you are fortunate enough to land one for $99) and probably a lot less for apps over the course of that time.
The TouchPad may be discontinued, but it’s far from dead. It’s a limited life appliance just like all of the other tablets on the market. Spending $99 and using the device for two years will be money in your pocket. Two years from now, iPad and iPad 2 owners, as well as current Android tablet owners will be actively looking to replace their tablet with the latest and greatest just like you. The only difference is, you’ll be money ahead.
To Mr. Palmer, please write a few more scathing articles. You’ll be doing the rest of us a favor.