HP TouchPad flames out: iPad marches on as geeky webOS platform flops
The HP TouchPad flopped because it was too expensive, claims one geek-penned headline. It flopped because the public isn’t ready to embrace tablet computing after all, posits another geek headline. The TouchPad was doomed because its webOS operating system wasn’t enough like the Android operating system, pleads another geek-written headline on yet another tech page. This during a week in which Hewlett Packard discontinued its short-lived tablet after a startlingly brief time on the market due to non-existent sales. Just how low was interest in the product? Best Buy was seen blowing out remaining TouchPad inventory for $99 a pop today. And yet the week’s worth of headlines conveniently and collectively makes one glaring omission: the fact that even as the TouchPad goes down in flames, sales of the competing iPad 2 are through the roof. Why? The geeks who write most of the tech headlines don’t want you buying Apple products, plain and simple.
Dating all the way back to the days when HP’s webOS was in the hands of Palm, long before the word “Android” referred to anything but Star Trek, geeks championed webOS as being the ideal mobile computing platform on devices like the Palm Pre (which HP also just killed off). But the reasons why the geeks liked webOS were the same reasons the mainstream thoroughly rejected the platform: whether by design or by delusion, it was designed from the ground up to be for the geeks, of the geeks, by the geeks. The Pre, then, was supposed to deliver the geeks some measure of revenge after Apple’s blatantly non-geeky iPhone went and made a major splash. That never happened, of course, and a dying Palm was bought up by HP for reasons which still aren’t clear in hindsight. The geeks did eventually get some measure of revenge through Android, although not for the reasons they believe. But with the death of webOS and its Pre and TouchPad offspring this week, the geeks took the opportunity to elegantly eulogize the failed product while simultaneously attempting to paint an alternate universe in which the iPad doesn’t exist…
It’s all, of course, quite predictable. As the Android platform has made major marketshare gains in the smartphone market over the past two years, geek headline writers have championed it as being the next best thing to their beloved webOS – to the point of embarrassment. Rather than admitting the obvious, which was that Android was popular on carriers which didn’t have the iPhone for the specific reason that those carriers didn’t have the iPhone, the headline writers proposed the absurd notion that mainstream folks were buying a geek-oriented Linux-based product like an Android phone because they wanted one. In reality, those sales were a combination of carriers like Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile (and equivalents around the world) steering their subscribers toward Android-based phones like the Droid and EVO because they couldn’t give subscribers the iPhone they were asking for. The proof, of course, comes in the fact that studies show Android users to have a less than fifty percent planned retention rate…
But you wouldn’t know it by the geek-penned headlines, which gloss over this fact while blindly parroting Google’s Android activation claims instead of questioning why the company is using something as suspect as activation numbers instead of the comparatively un-riggable hardware sales numbers. None of that mattered this week, however, as geek headline writers ran the gamut from lamenting the death of webOS and the TouchPad (despite the fact that absolutely no one outside of the geekiest one percent of the population wanted either one), trying to make a case for why it’s still a good idea to buy a TouchPad even though the product and its operating system have just been killed off, and more comically, claiming that the demise of the TouchPad means that the public just isn’t ready for tablets. Nevermind that even while HP was repeatedly cutting prices on the TouchPad, Apple was busy selling thirty million iPads in a year and a half. And nevermind that HP couldn’t convince anyone to buy the TouchPad even after it went and stole the iPad’s hardware design so thoroughly that one might suspect HP had been hoping to confuse would-be iPad buyers into going home with what they might have though was an “HP iPad” or some such.
Suffice it to say that there’s a reason why Apple didn’t bother to sue Hewlett Packard for stealing the iPad’s hardware design even as Apple is busy suing the pants off other copycats like Samsung and HTC. The difference is that while Samsung and HTC have had modest success in selling iPad knockoffs, HP has had none. And this is the product which geek headline writers have been living and dying by? The one which HP couldn’t sell even by trying to make it look like a fake iPad? This is the product which the geeks thought would slay the iPad because the iPad just wasn’t geeky enough for their tastes? But I digress.
Speaking of Android-based tablets like the ones from HTC and Samsung, while they’re doing okay in the sales department, they’re still getting collectively crushed by the iPad in terms of marketshare. The fact that Android-based phones (which were being over-promoted by every non-iPhone carrier in every nation) have sold so well while Android-based tablets (a market in which carriers have little influence) have done so much worse should make it clear that the majority of the success Android phones have found can be directly attributed to Apple’s ill-fated long term iPhone exclusivity contracts around the world, most of which the company has only managed to finally worm its way out of this year. But again, you won’t see any geek headline writers stating the obvious about the discrepancies between Android phone sales and Android tablet sales, along with the obvious reasons for it. Instead they’re too busy eulogizing one geek platform which no one outside the geekdom ever cared about, while stating their hope that another geek platform will dominate despite the fact that the majority of the mainstream who’ve tried it have already decided to abandon it. Here’s more on the end of the HP TouchPad.