With tablet sales expected to rise above 50 million in the next year and rumours of the imminent launch of iPad 2, Hewlett-Packard (HP) has announced the launch of two new phones and a tablet computer, the TouchPad, at a San Francisco event. The TouchPad, along with the phones – the Veer and Pre3, is based on HP’s operating system, webOS, which was bought from Palm for $1.2bn in 2010. Features of the HP TouchPad include a 9.7-inch XGA (1024×768 resolution) display, single front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera for video calling, 1.2 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 13.7mm thickness, a slick virtual keyboard, VPN support, wireless printing as well as Google Docs, QuickOffice, Dropbox and Box.net compatibility. Furthermore, the tablet comes with 1GB of RAM and 16GB or 32GB of internal storage space. Other features include, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, A-GPS (3G model only), Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Compass and a 3.5mm audio jack.
HP is optimistic that the TouchPad will be able to effectively compete against the iPad, Playbook and other Android-powered devices in a market estimated to be worth around $160bn. However, apart from the price one cannot help but wonder whether HP can successfully compel developers to create apps that are appealing to users in a similar fashion to other tablets particularly Apple’s iPad. Indeed, Apple’s app store is one of its strongest selling point, with over 300,000 apps available for download compared to Android’s 100,000.
In other developments, future HP users can expect to see webOS powered laptops, desktop PCs and Printers in future, although HP still remains one of Microsoft’s strongest manufacturing partners today. The TouchPad is expected to go on sale in the summer of 2011.
With analysts predicting that Apple’s iPad will take in more than 30 million of this years expected 54 million tablet sales, what does the TouchPad have to do in order to be seen as a viable competitor?