In a surprising twist on the tablet war front, HP has announced that they will discontinue production of their touted Touchpad just 2 months after its launch.

HP reported that it plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones. HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward.

HP Press release August 18, 2011

This follows initial reports of disappointing tablet sales with Big retailers such as Best Buy sitting on 200,000 units of unsold Touchpads and threatening to return it to HP.  That, may be what broke the camel's back.

Despite lukewarm reviews I really thought that the Touchpad's WebOS system was a real contender in the Tablet War - over time.  I didn't expect the Touchpad to come out with all guns blazing (sales wise) but I was certain it would chip away at the iPads market share eventually (even a paltry amount).  Apparently, dropping the price by $100 didn't make a dent on sales.

So what does it really take to earn a seat at the Big Boy's table of Tablet Manufacturers?  What really needs to be done to even gain a foothold?  Lets look some of the factors.

Apps - Apps Rule, and the quality of Apps you have determine the success of ANY tablet.  It's the Apps that let your tablet be what you want it to be.  Welcome to the me generation, any new player will have to make sure they got the best developers onboard.  What kind of Apps? Well just look at the best of category on Apple's App Store.  Get these top ten developers in - by begging them, or even paying them.  Then, perhaps you can have a decent chance of succeeding when adaptors can use their most used Apps on your tablet.

Hardware - You know the story, processing speed, Good enough Graphics, a screen to match Apple's and you are almost there.  Bind it all together with a respectable battery life and you are good to go.

Price - Everyone that comes along in the tablet market prices themselves along the iPad only to come up short.  We know that Apple has made a trove of profits from selling overpriced hardware so there are probably some respectable margins in hardware.  So why don't someone realize that they are not Apple and price their Tablet accordingly.  Build a tablet for the common masses for easy adoption.  Perhaps a $300 tablet, with respectable hardware (screen), and Apps to match, that may be what is needed to make current non-iPad users take the jump.

I know this is a rather simplistic way of looking at this, there is also user experience and a host of other factors to consider but I think it's the core of it.  The Touchpad's WebOS user experience  wasn't really that bad, but I think their failure was mainly attributed to lack of Apps and a weak battery life, amongst other things.

In Short - It's all Android

With these factors required for success in the Tablet arena, the only credible candidate left standing would be Google's Android system.

It is evident from the way Apple has been almost singling out Samsung's Galaxy Tab (Android's de facto Tablet Champion) - most recently by delaying it launch in Australia (barring a patent dispute) - that Apple is watching out for the competition.

There is a lot hinging on this.  After all, the fact that Apple could have a virtual monopoly of the tablet market is going to be huge on the company's bottom line for a long time.

For now, we can only wait and see how the current Tablet war pans out.


The original post on Simon Blog can be found here: HP Discontinues Touchpad - Finds taking a bite out of Apple too hard to swallow