Analysts Dub HP TouchPad a Legitimate Contender for Second Place
It might lack a firm launch date and hard pricing details, and its application and content ecosystem might need further work, but Hewlett-Packard’s forthcoming TouchPad looks like it’s got a real shot at becoming the frontrunner in the massing horde of tablet hopefuls trailing Apple’s iPad.
Certainly the hardware and OS seem formidable enough to at least differentiate the device in an increasingly crowded market. And if HP’s integration story proves to be as good in practice as it sounded on stage in San Francisco yesterday (printers, phones, PCs and tablets all connected via webOS), the TouchPad could mount a decent challenge to the iPad–even if it doesn’t arrive at market until after the debut of the iPad 2.
Though he feels the summer ship date is just too late, Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes was impressed by the TouchPad’s hardware and OS. “[The TouchPad] appears to have very good software and syncing capabilities (HP Synergy feature) and some promising features,” he said in a client note today. “Also we point out that HP is clearly still investing not just in tablets but its smartphone business, which provides a good link between products for the future. Along with a nice OS, we believe that HP’s channel strength, link to its printing franchise, and overall brand strength could enable it to be one of the few relevant tablet players far behind Apple over the long-term.”
J.P. Morgan’s Mark Moskowitz had good things to say as well. “Our initial take on the TouchPad: better than expected,” he said. “Beyond Apple’s iPad, we previously had not been impressed with the other tablet entrants. HP’s TouchPad moderately changes this view.”
Interstingly, Moskowitz doesn’t seem quite as concerned about the device’s launch date. His feeling is that with the TouchPad, HP isn’t taking on Apple as much as it is the conga line of vendors chasing it. “For HP,” he said, “we believe the initial mission is to capture meaningful share among the non-iPad tablets, i.e., Android and Windows-based devices.”
Which is an interesting way of looking at the company’s strategy. Perhaps HP isn’t trying to out iPad the iPad–it’s trying to out iPad the iPad’s imitators, a far less daunting task.