∞ Interview: HP says Apple is not TouchPad's target

HP’s TouchPad tablet hits stores tomorrow, and while the device is being compared to Apple’s iPad 2, an HP executive told The Loop that’s not its target market.

[ad#Google Adsense 300×250 in story]In an interview with The Loop, Richard Kerris, HP’s vice president of Worldwide Developer Relations, said that HP is focused on more than just the TouchPad.

“It’s not just about the tablet,” said Kerris. “It’s about the OS, the ecosystem and connecting devices like phones, printers, tablets and computers together.”

Kerris explained that once you setup a webOS profile, it’s always with you. Calling webOS “a true cloud initiative that’s functioning today,” he said that webOS’ Synergy will seamlessly sync calendars, emails, photos and other files, across all of your webOS devices.

“These are the subtle things, but they matter so much to individuals,” said Kerris.

Of course, Apple’s iOS 5 and iCloud will have the same types of features when it’s released in the Fall, but for now, webOS has this functionality as part of its core. Apple is also making other changes that webOS already does. For instance, the initial setup of the device.

“We’re the tablet that when you take it out of the box it doesn’t ask you to connect to something to get started,” said Kerris, referring to the need to plug in an iPad to a computer.

However, the early reviews were not glowing for the TouchPad. Responding to the mixed bag of reviews, Kerris said that the things mentioned will be fixed with over-the-air updates.

“As long as you have a plan, you’ll be fine,” said Kerris.

One of the advantages that Apple has over its competition is the developer community. However, Kerris said that interest in webOS has been high from new developers. In fact, he said, in the past 45 days more than 400 developers have attended one or two-day webOS workshops in California. Kerris noted that the workshops are already booked over the summer.

HP acknowledged Apple’s dominance in the tablet market, but said Apple wasn’t its target with the TouchPad.

“We think there’s a better opportunity for us to go after the enterprise space and those consumers that use PCs,” said Kerris. “This market is in it’s infancy and there is plenty of room for both of us to grow.”

HP’s views are totally different than most of its competition. From Android tablets to RIM’s PlayBook, tablet makers have entered the market with the intention of dethroning Apple.

HP seems to have a saner view of the situation.

“We think the world of Apple and have the utmost respect for their products,” said Kerris. “It would be ignorant for us to say that we are going to take it [the market] away from Apple.”

Of course, the another advantage that Apple has over its competition is iTunes. The integration of music, TV shows, movies, apps, books and other media gives Apple a lead in the market when attracting new buyers. But maybe not for long.

HP said they would also have stores that offer many of these media options to its customers.

If there is one thing that was clear speaking with Kerris it was that HP is focused on more than just launch day. They have a plan.

The company’s plan doesn’t just include the TouchPad, but will integrate printers, phones, computers and other devices, all running webOS. This will be the core of HP’s strategy going forward.

With a growing developer network and a high volume of shipping products, HP is looking towards 2012, 2013 and beyond, not at tomorrow or next week. Many companies, including RIM have already proven that short term goals don’t work, so it will be interesting to see how HP’s works.

While I haven’t used webOS 3.0, I have used older versions of the OS and liked it. This, in addition to its long term strategy, should be enough to give HP a strong position in market.

  • right.   tablets aren’t competing against each other?  the day tablets are preferred over a real computer.. lol that’ll be the day.  hp is trippin.

    • Tommy

      Herp derp. 

      • touchpad > touchscreen.  real keyboard > virtual keyboard. laptop > tablet.  this will never change, unless something I’m missing.

        the ultimate are the convertible hybrids that are coming out. can’t beat that!

        • Tablets aren’t for everybody, but saying “touchpad (trackpad) > touchscreen” doesn’t quite compute for me. Using you finger to directly interact with something on the screen has the undeniable advantage of removing a layer of abstraction, which I think is inherently good.

          It all depends on what your needs are. In my case (university student) the iPad has replaced the Mac for most tasks, be it reading scientific texts (including markup and note taking), writing emails, blog posts, surfing the web, RSS and of course PIM. There are days that I don’t even turn on my laptop at all. I even wrote large parts of a term paper on it, albeit using my bluetooth keyboard.

          • for casual surfing, tablets are fine.  but they will never be serious production tools.  not to mention the ones now are underpowered for any serious RIA experience.  this will change i know, but they will always be for the caasual experience.  thats all i’m saying. 

            touchscreens are also too susceptible for accidental ‘touches’ on most websites with any respectable amount of data interfacing.  all the ‘cool’ multitouch gestures like zooming / swiping can be accomplished even more accurately with a multi-touch touchpad.  

            that”s my final answer. 😉

          • His Shadow

            “but they will never be serious production tools.”

            Nobody cares, because no one is saying that they are “serious production tools”. Never mind the fact that most of the people making this claim don’t do any serious production.

  • Wow. It’s so refreshing to hear an executive speak reasonably about his company’s tablet. I’m a little taken aback.

    • No kidding. All this bluster and bragging from companies that don’t even release products many months before release, you begin to wonder if any of the potential competition for the iPad has any credibility at all.

      Still, if he things the iPad isn’t already invading the Enterprise, he’s sadly mistaken.

      • Anonymous

        That may be so (the bit about iPad invading the Enterprise), but it’s still a target that HP is most suited to targeting, if only because of their long-time relationship with Enterprise customers. They’ve identified a portion of the market that they think they can capture. iPad may not be weak in the Enterprise, but that’s comparatively where it is weakest.

  • “a true cloud initiative that’s functioning today,”

    LOL.. what a joke that guy is. HP’s TouchPad can’t do anything that iCloud does.

    • Well said  

    • Anonymous

      Who says that they are trying to be iCloud. 

      You, not them. 

  • Erikvdo

    It seems strange to me that companies, like HP, think that web-apps are what 3rd party developers really want to write. I recall Apple originally promoting the iPhone with the idea that 3rd party developers could build their iPhone apps with XML, CSS and Javascript, and the general response from the (mostly Mac) developer community being a resounding ‘#*!& you, Apple!’

    Apple creating a robust, (fairly) developer-friendly, dedicated development environment was a big help in ensuring that iPhone (and, later, iPod touch and iPad) users have a huge pool of apps – many of them great quality – to pick from.

    • Anonymous

      It’s not that HP thinks all devs want to work in web languages– that simply makes development on the platform easier for people who are web developers. WebOS is not limited to web programming languages / web apps. It’s also pretty easy to write / port C/C++ apps. Pretty much you can develop anything for WebOS if you want.

      • Anonymous

        You won’t get good apps by catering to the lowest common denominator this way. What makes for successful software dev, is not just the ability create a good web page. You have to under requirements, good software design, how to test, how to optimize, how to exploit the platform, have great tools, etc.

        The language is not the hard part. And web tech, usually,  doesn’t support good debugging or refactoring.  Trying to “stuff the box” by inviting in people who can put together web pages won’t make for good apps in the end, I suspect.

  • Anonymous

    Wow! What a wishy-washy position. Doesn’t matter if HP doesn’t view the iPad as a target or not, it’s going to be viewed that way by just about… let’s see… freaking everyone. This kind of posturing is just a preemptive move on the chance that if the product fails, they can simply shrug and say, “Well, we weren’t trying to beat Apple anyway. We were trying something new that people just didn’t get.” 

    • Anonymous

      Apple had a similar position 14 years ago– they were total underdogs. Steve Jobs basically told developers to forget the notion of “win-lose”– everyone assumed for Apple to win, Microsoft would have to lose. It’s just not true– it’s just a false, unproductive, narrow view of the marketplace. Apple is making a ton of cash without having to dominate the PC operating system world– Microsoft is still the king of that hill. 

      For HP’s new strategy, it could be the same. Apple doesn’t have to fail or lose for HP to succeed. (And I hope they don’t. Obviously much of the TouchPad is iPad inspired– screen size / form factor, etc– but the software is their own). They simply have to focus on making great products. HP isn’t Apple– they haven’t been where Apple’s been, they don’t have the media ecosystem that Apple has– so they can’t just step up and pretend to BE Apple. But they do have strengths in other areas, and enterprise is one of them. There’s plenty of potential for HP to succeed in that market. Whether they do or not remains to be seen. 

      • Anonymous

        I think you’re missing the point though.  Using Steve’s analogy, Apple didn’t win by competing with Microsoft head to head on MS’s position of strength (desktop).  Apple won by moving to new directions where MS wasn’t a factor.  Similarly for HP, Apple doesn’t have to lose for HP to win.  HP is a big company and competes in many product lines.  However, Web OS based devices are direct competition to Apple’s iOS devices.  While there is room for multiple players, there isn’t necessarily room for multiple “winners” in this market segment.

        That said, I tend to agree with andrerichards in the sense that HP’s comments, while humble, are a bit disingenuous.  Clearly, the hubris and bravado didn’t work for RIM and HP.  They are trying to not end up in that position.  However, when you look at the WebOS products, it’s completely laughable to suggest they are not targeting Apple.  Where did the shape of these devices come from?  Even the form factor of the tablet is a copy of what Apple has done.  The OS itself is heavily “influenced” from what Apple has done, etc.  Though, I do acknowledge that unlike Google/Android, the WebOS team has done a few innovative things with regard to UI.

    • Anonymous

      The notion is that they view the ipad as a consumer product with some appeal for businesses etc. But they aren’t going that way. They are making a product to appeal to businesses first. 

      Trouble is, they pretty much failed. Because they didn’t really reach their intended market or even use decent marketing. Russell Brand, seriously? He’s not someone that businesses are going to bother paying attention to. Especially when you have him down talking to folks like they are idiots with the stunts like explaining what multitasking means. Having places like Best Buy put out 4+ demo units is awesome. But you didn’t tell them how to activate the units so they are just sitting there unusable. Brilliant. Not. 

  • nodoz

    Nice fanboy article. Lots of “iPad better watch out”. I’ve now read those kinds of artciles (“iTunes better watch out” etc etc etc) for years. This article would be worth something if they gave me a sense of the challenges HP faces. As a huge tech company, HP’s challenge is not hopeles but they have a lot of work to do. Replacing detailed analysis of what HP needs to do to suceed with “Apple better watch out” is just lazy journalism/writing.

    • You clearly haven’t read the article carefully. This executive has a better grasp of the market than anyone from RIM, Samsung or Motqorola that I heard speaking about the matter.

      Of curse there’s marketing speech in it, but then again, he’s talking to the press.

  • Player_16

    Mr. Kerris knows what he’s up against but at least his product is prettymuch finished unlike those ‘other’ tablets. He’s sounding pithy because he’s keeping his cards (tablet) against his chest which is a good thing I think. It looks like this tablet will beat all the others, no problem… ‘cept one. 2nd best is still up for grabs and HP’s goin’ for it.

  • It’s good to see someone has a realistic view of the market, at least for the most part. The initial reviews aren’t good, but the hardware looks fine. If HP put all the people to work they should be able to I prove the system quickly.

    I particularly like they way they seem to be thinking not in devices, but in ecosystems and environments, as well as having a clear strategy for 3rd party developers.

    There’s one thing that bugs me, though:

    “We think there’s a better opportunity for us to go after the enterprise space and those consumers that use PCs,” said Kerris. “This market is in it’s infancy and there is plenty of room for both of us to grow.”

    Yes, the market is in it’s infancy, and there’s plenty room for everybody, but Apple doesn’t distinguish between Mac and PC users. They want people to use iPads and they don’t care which OS their host PC is running and will do so even less, once they’ve hefted their iCloud to the skies.

    Sorry, but this is a major fault in their analysis of Apple’s strategy. You don’t go after Mac or PC users to sell them a tablet, you go after computer users who are interested in a tablet. Also, the enterprise already uses iPads, it’s not like Apple doesn’t think this market to be important.

    I really hope they are successful with their tablet.

  • Davki

    From what I’ve seen, WebOS has a number of interesting features, the tablet itsself doesn’t look bad. A more in-depth look would be interesting. However, there are serious shortcomings still. There is no way to edit text etc. Competition is good, however, lets Apple go forward, I hope, with making the iPad more funtional. Ah, and “This market is in it’s infancy” should  read its infancy, right? P.S. I don’t get people getting angry at this article. Of course there will be more and more competitors for the iPad and that’s a good thing. I could list you dozens of things the iPad doesn’t do as well as otheres, starting with loudspeakers…

    • Anonymous

      “Competition is good, however, lets Apple go forward, I hope, with making the iPad more functional”

      Except that Apple doesn’t really pay that much attention to what the other boys are doing. So if they make anything ‘more functional’ (by their notion, not yours, of what that means) it will be because they want to do whatever and when they want to do it. 

  • Onebuttonmouse

    you go after computer users who are interested in a tablet

    But I see those folks on youtube, happy using an iPad, which havent been users of traditional computers before and maybe they will never have the need or urge to use a traditional computer. I think, Apple goes after everybody who wants to do or accomplish something with an app or multiple apps, which are becoming the device.

  • Tjhughes73

    Go back to the beginning of the personal computer space- Apple had a great product with it MAC – and IBM became the leader in the PC marketplace.  HP was late there, but look at where they are today.  They are the largest supplier of PC in the world plus the are the biggest supplier of Unix boxes.  You don’t always have to be in first place to start a race.  Give HP time and they will figure it out – they have the resources (CASH) to invest in a family of products.  This is not a one horse race – this is a stable of products – products lines that add new functionality and capabilities.  All one can say is – the race isn’t over yet – the race just started.

    • Anonymous

      At the risk of coming off as grammar police, why is it that so many people write it in all-caps, “MAC?” It’s “Mac.” That’s still not as bad as “iTouch,” which makes my teeth curl.

      OK, I’m grammar police, lol. shows badge Don’t get me started on the misuse of the word “unique” or of “I couldn’t care less.”

  • Anonymous

    As a long-time MAC user, I guess I’m one of those fanboys, who doesn’t just use Apple’s products but also roots for the company. I guess it’s because I love the soap opera, though there was a time years ago that it was more like technological evangelism.

    That being said, I’m rooting for WebOS. Perhaps it’s lingering adversarial feelings for Google from past experience, perhaps it’s that Android feels too much like Windows of the ’90’s (a licensed operating system spreading over multiple carriers like a plague of locusts) or maybe I’m caught up in the emotions of the fanboy-vs-fandroid rivalry. But for whatever reason I’m rooting against Google, like I used to root against Microsoft.

    But I do like HP. I’ve had friends that worked there (that helps on a personal level) and their history as an institution leaves me with a positive feeling. I like that they are trying to do what Apple has done: create an end-to-end ecosystem that encompasses your phone, your tablet and your PC. And I like that it feels like a fundamentally different choice. Windows always felt to me like a similar choice poorly executed; a copy of MacOS but without the delight.

    On the flipside, I’m not excited about Apple being the only fish in the pond. On the one hand, that’s an emotional thing: I like that I chose Apple products rather than having had them as the only option (that would be too much like Windows users of a recent era). And I’m not thrilled about all my personal and sensitive data being managed through one company.

    So I’m glad that the TouchPad is out, I’m rooting for HP to optimize the experience so that it can live alongside iOS on a more level playing field. Apple had the advantage — both with the iPhone and iPad, in whatever order they started the projects — of years of development in which they could optimize the experience while no one else was putting out comparable products; neither HP nor RIM, Microsoft or Google’s hardware partners have that luxury: they have to release something to get into the market before Apple has it all locked down.

    • I’m a hard-core Apple Fan-boi, but that never stopped me liking Palm.

      I whilst I have a cult-like obsession with all things Mac & iOS, I’m desperate for a printer IU that doesn’t suck. IF. I F HP can get traction with webOS on their printers, it might just have sufficient halo effect to keep them in the game with the tablets & the PCs and the fones.

      But otherwise – >>We think there’s a better opportunity for us to go after the enterprise space and those consumers that use PCs<< – that's Microsoft's space & Microsoft aint gonna let that happen without a huge fight which I think MS would win easily!

      • Anonymous

        “Printer?” What’s that? You mean, put letters and pictures and numbers and things on paper? They still do that?