Nostalgia is a funny thing. Sometimes it creeps up on you, and tickles you at the edge of your senses without you even realizing it. One minute you’re sitting there and you catch of whiff of roast beef mixed with stale beer and blammo, you’re thinking about Cindy Pepperstein who firmly but gently turned you down for the senior prom.
And sometimes nostalgia hits you in the face with a shovel, which is the situation I found myself in not long ago. I started thinking, as I admittedly often do, about webOS. About what could have been.
(–Insert Harp Music Here–)
The TouchPad Go is what could have been. The TouchPad Go, for those of you not familiar, was the 7” tablet that was to follow the rousing success of the HP TouchPad’s 10” model. Only the 10” model wasn’t a rousing success. Neither was the Veer. Neither was the Pre 2. Neither was the …well, you get the idea.
The History of What is Not…
The TouchPad Go was slated to be released in Fall of 2011. Leo Apotheker, then CEO of HP (and unconfirmed mad man) killed everything webOS in August of 2011. For those of you not familiar with calendars, Fall comes after August. Therefore the TouchPad Go was killed along with the barely-released Pre3 and subsequently put out to pasture. All prototypes were rounded up and destroyed, lest they descend upon the masses in all their awesomenocity. Except, just like the gun trade-in programs in Chicago, these TouchPads were not even close to being destroyed. They’re out there.
This is where my nostalgia comes from. The TouchPad Go, could have been a pretty revolutionary device. Remember, this is 2011. There were a couple of 7” tablets floating around – A Samsung Galaxy Tab, or some such – but for the most part, the 7” tablet was an untapped market. No iPad minis, no Google Nexus 7’s. Amazon was about to unleash their monster, the Kindle Fire, on the world, but even that would have followed the TouchPad Go.
The TouchPad, despite the lack of apps, was and still is a decently productive tablet, integrating Skype, QuickOffice with Google Docs (now known as Google Drive) integration, Dropbox, the first tablet Facebook app (suck it Apple), and the almighty Synergy. And a 7” form factor is now in many circles the preferred form factor for folks on the….wait for it….”Go”. See what I did there?
The TouchPad Go also featured a couple of other features not included in it’s older brother – GPS, soft-touch back, and a rear facing camera. Granted the last entry on a tablet makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little bit, but not many tablets at the time had a rear facing camera, so it’s worth mentioning. All these features, combined with a lighter weight, could have made the TouchPad Go more successful that the TouchPad. But it was killed.
It really does make one weep, considering the Pre3’s keyboard is one of the best physical keyboards to ever grace a portrait slider. The TouchPad Go integrated the soft-touch back eliminating the “fingerprint magnet” complaint of the original TouchPad. These were, quite possibly, the best two things anyone ever did with webOS hardware and they were both killed way before their time.
So all this begs the question – could the TouchPad Go, the Pre3, and heaven forbid the legendary slab phone WindsorNot saved webOS? No. Not really. Despite the small, transportable size, the fast processor (for its time) and epic keyboard, and the sheer screen real estate those three respectively offered, it all came down to the same problem over and over and over again – apps. At the end of the day, the apps just weren’t there.
This isn’t the “Blackberry doesn’t have Netflix” type of app problem. This is more like the “webOS doesn’t have Shazzam, Netflix, Hulu, Anything-that-starts-with-Google, but if you want to tweet, you are good to friggin go” type of app problem.
Heck, as long as we’re being nostalgic, let’s mix in a dash of wishful thinking and say that OpenMobile’s wet dream came true and HP decided to license their Application Compatibility Layer and made the app problem disappear. Now, you have a 7” tablet with applications for work and play, a rear-facing camera, a soft touch back, and a fast processor. Gold baby. Gold.
HP TouchPad Go Home
Of course, HP still would have found a way to screw it up.
The TouchPad Go as it was would have been awesome, as would have the Pre3. However, at the end of the day, webOS’s microscopic mind share, app problem, and estimated price (the TouchPad started at 499 pre-firesale, hard to imagine a TouchPad Go being less than $300) would have sold a few thousand units, but probably no more than that. webOS would not have been saved, champagne would not have fallen from the skies, nor would any extra velvet ropes part. It just would have made this article depressingly uninteresting, having been written about a failed tablet, rather than the gold-plated unicorn it is today.