Over the course of this week, there have been some shock announcements regarding potential competitors to the Apple iPad, specifically the Microsoft Courier and the HP Slate.
On Thursday, Gizmodo reported that Microsoft had summarily pulled the Courier out of the incubator and tossed it in the bin. Certainly, in my opinion, the Courier looked like an interesting device and its interface was quite unique compared to prior attempts at tablet devices.
Soon after, a source within HP told the press that the HP Slate was not going to see the light of day. This news came after an announcement the day before that HP was buying the struggling Palm for US$1.2 billion. In more recent times, there has been a gaping hole in HP’s handheld, mobile and tablet line up. This may in fact be a strategic move in promoting WebOS as the OS of choice for both mobile and larger tablet devices manufactured by HP (whilst saving some money on Windows licensing that would end up going into Microsoft’s pockets).
So what on earth is going on?
I’m not sure if competitors see the iPad as a large-scale threat at present but there seems to be some interest in the right device. Scaling down full blown operating systems to fit smaller devices has not been a successful recipe in the past yet without any truly disrupting devices in the space the status quo has endured. I think HP sees some merit in what Palm developed to try and regain a stake in the mobile market in the Palm Pre and WebOS but sadly failed to realise. Rather than release a disappointing product, HP is quietly going back to the drawing board hopefully to come up with something innovative.
I reckon in about a year we’re going to see an HP WebOS tablets and mobiles burst into the market and compete with Microsoft Windows Phone 7, Google Android and iPhone OS. It’ll be interesting to see if there is room for four major players in this space and who will be taking market share in such a climate.