I still remember the day when my home was literally made by HP. I come from the old Compaq days, and the first non-clone computer that I ever bought was a gorgeous Compaq Presario desktop, and I decided to match all that beauty and power with my first Pocket PC, the Compaq iPAQ H3630. Ah, those were the days. Compaq really knew how to either design or approve beautiful products. Back then, the iPAQ that I owned was made by HTC, and for those of you who remember what it was like to own a colored display on an aluminum body at the times when Palm dominated the ages with monochrome displays and cheap plastic, you’ll remember how we were all regarded as the rich and fancy business kids of the block.
Then came HP. I’d say the transition benefited HP more than it benefited Compaq. If not, try to compare the gorgeous design of an iPAQ back then with the cheap-looking HP Jornada. HP did a bold move though, as they adopted the iPAQ as their product and began focusing on making Pocket PC’s smaller and more portable at the same time as they also made them cheaper. Let’s just say HP single-handedly sunk Palm’s PDA business back then by making the Pocket PC the mainstream PDA of choice. That also marked my transition into my future with HP Pocket PCs and even smartphones, as well as laptops and printers. I don’t regret those days at all.
Sadly HP’s problem was always the fact that they were a big ship that was commanded by everybody except the captain. Change is always good, but HP spent a great deal of time changing what didn’t need to be changed. As a result, the iPAQ, which HP sadly took away from HTC, became a dying product that people stopped caring about. What to do? Let’s buy Palm they said. Another bold move if you ask me, since they were in-part responsible for nailing Palm’s coffin in the early days, and webOS wasn’t really taking off with the iPhone’s competition. Yeah, well, we already know how that story ended. And if you want me to add even more drama to this article, do any of you remember who built the first slate Tablet PC? Yeah, that was HP too.
So, with the iPAQ dead, the Tablet PC failures, and even the once-glorious Palm dead and their most precious asset webOS being sold to LG, HP is now giving Android tablets a try. No I am not kidding you. The same company that never figured out how to sell Tablet PCs, Pocket PCs, Smartphones, nor even their own mobile operating system is now back with another change. A clear example of a company that doesn’t have a clue of what they’re doing, but that still want’s to do everything.
Is this change really going to drive HP to the future? I’ll give you a couple of my ideas as to why not.
HP, sadly hardware-only OEMs are not succeeding
HP’s biggest problem is that their new HP Slate 7 is just another cheap Android tablet. There is nothing special about it except for the price tag. You’d argue that Android OEMs are hardware-only, but they really aren’t. They could’ve all chosen to just bundle stock Android on their products, but HTC, Samsung and even Nokia on the Windows Phone arena have decided to push their base operating systems with enough custom software to make their products differentiate themselves from the crowd. These companies have all invested hard on software, and in the case of Samsung in particular, the positive results are seen clearly.
Now if you would flip the switch and bring players like Motorola, Huawei, Acer or others that only bundle minimal software in their products and don’t really invest in enhancing your experience with the product, and what you get is sadly a pool full of good ideas that die young. I don’t mention Sony on purpose here, as they’ve failed for other reasons that don’t have to do with their products.
I guess my biggest question to HP is: Why oh why did you not push this tablet with webOS? Yes, we know it struggled in its day, but there were apps and a solid community behind it and all. It surely would’ve been a rough ride to the top, but the Slate 7′s possibilities of adoption were much larger with webOS than with Android. Why, because of the webOS cult following. The world doesn’t need or care about another Android tablet no matter how well it’s priced.
HP, people don’t trust you any more
Do I need to repeat all the once-successful products that have died terrible deaths in the clutches of HP? After the whole HP TouchPad debacle, the last thing I want in March is to spend $170 on a tablet that HP will drop and re-price to just $50 the next day because their executives have no clue as to how much a new product needs to be in store shelves to take off.
HP either has no clear understanding of the market, or of their customers in general, and after all the stunts they’ve pulled in the last decade, I’m sad to admit that it seems HP doesn’t even have a clue of anything anymore. Don’t you find this to be such an irony coming from one of the pioneers of the mobile space, which also absorbed other pioneers like Palm and Compaq in the process?
The Bottom Line
Even at the time when HP dropped the price of the TouchPad to just $100, I decided to skip the product even though I was more than capable of buying a couple of them. The reason why is because if not even HP believed in their own product back then, why should I do any different? I don’t think HP understands the depth of that mistake, but it was huge.
What HP needed was new blood to succeed in mobile, and instead of using these assets in their Palm or Compaq transitions, they decided to continue relying on their experts (who had already failed in everything before).
Do I want HP to succeed? Yes I do. There’s a big part of me that wished I wasn’t typing this on a Mac after three of my previous HP laptops crashed due to motherboard issues just days after the warranty expired on each. I do wish that they figured it out, but I honestly doubt they will if their plans are to just “compete”. The mobile market of today is about innovating more than others, and the HP Slate 7 is sadly just another me-too product.
What about you? Are you planning to buy an HP Slate 7 at least for the price tag? Please share your comments down bellow.