HP tablet hobbled by lack of WebOS apps

If platform-specific apps are as important to tablet users as they are to smartphone fans, HP will face an uphill battle.

Now that Hewlett-Packard has announced plans to release a webOS tablet early next year, its next big goal--in addition to building the device--is to persuade software developers to write apps for the mobile gadget. Given the early popularity of Apple's iPad, as well as the imminent arrival of numerous tablets running Google's Android OS, that task could prove challenging.

HP bought Palm in April for US$1.2 billion, primarily for the smartphone maker's webOS operating system. Critically acclaimed when it debuted in January 2009, webOS earned kudos for its elegant design and sophisticated features. Sadly, it had the misfortune of being paired with the Palm Pre, a very good smartphone that couldn't compete against the Apple iPhone, a growing number of Android handsets, and the rest of the mobile pack.

The Pre's main weakness? A lack of mobile apps, which were quickly becoming a huge draw for smartphone users. While the Pre's App Catalog had some worthy offerings, it was losing a numbers game to the iPhone, which hosted tens of thousands of more apps. The Pre got slaughtered.

Tablets Are Coming

As HP prepares to launch its webOS tablet, the app battle is even more daunting. Apple's iOS App Store has in excess of 225,000 applications, and the Android Market has more than 70,000. Of course, the vast majority of those iOS apps aren't written specifically for Apple's tablet. But the iPad's proven popularity is a certainly drawing card for developers.

And Android? Again, those 70K apps may not be tailored for a tablet's larger display, but the sheer number of Android tablets coming soon (from multiple manufacturers) is a bound to lure coders.

The webOS tablet, by comparison, is a single tablet from a single company--albeit a company that happens to be the largest computer manufacturer in the world. If platform-specific apps are as important to tablet users as they are to smartphone fans--and we're talking about a pretty similar demographic here--HP has a big challenge on its hands.

Of course, a webOS failure wouldn't hurt HP all that much. The behemoth plans to ship a Windows 7 tablet for the business market, and it certainly has the resources to launch an Android slate (or two) if the webOS tablet fizzles. But given Hewlett-Packard's sizable investment in webOS, it's unlikely that HP will bail on Palm's prized OS anytime soon.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags HPtabletswebOSHewlett-Packardhardware systemstablet PCslaptopsPalmtablet PC

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeff Bertolucci

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?