|Answered: why did HP (i.e. @palm) announce new #webOS products so early?
||[Mar. 3rd, 2011|10:31 am]
I've seen a lot of speculation (especially now that Apple's announced the iPad 2, which will ship next week) as to why HP/Palm announced their slate of new products so early. So let's take it from the top:
(this is all speculation, of course)
So why did they announce in February when the Pre3 and TouchPad aren't releasing until "summer"?: The Pre3 and TouchPad won't be ready until summer. If HP could release either early they absolutely would.
Well, obviously, but why didn't they wait to announce until shortly before they released? Well, for one thing, the Veer is releasing in "spring". Surely HP wouldn't want to have one event for the Veer and another for the Pre3 and TouchPad.
Also, I think HP is in a tough spot. Palm hasn't had a new phone announced since last October...and that was the Pre 2, which looks exactly like the Pre/Pre Plus with better specs. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but that's not exactly new and exciting. A lot of people were saying that if Palm didn't announce anything new and exciting by CES (later modified to Feb. 9), they'd leave for an Android phone.
But HP CEO Leo Apotheker said they'd ship products within weeks of announcing them! What gives? My guess is that he said this in frustration after learning that the products they were announcing on Feb. 9 weren't going to ship for months.
Why are the Pre3 and TouchPad taking so long, anyway? What about HP's scale and billions of dollars? The Palm acquisition wasn't finalized until July 31. That's just 6 months ago...and you have to imagine that at least the first few months was HP looking at the insides of Palm and figuring out what they wanted to do. That leaves very little time for HP to get more people working on Palm stuff. And usually adding more people slows things down in the short term!
Plus, there are some serious technical challenges here. In addition to working on webOS 2.0/2.1/whatever, for the Pre3 they have to deal with the fact that this is the first webOS device that doesn't have 320px width, not to mention it has a new processor and HSPA+ support. And the TouchPad is all new hardware and the OS looks substantially different. Apple worked on the iPad for a long time before it released.
Bonus question: Will the TouchPad be cheaper than the iPad? No. Apple has the advantage here of huge economies of scale, plus an iteration under their belt to lower costs. I guess it's vaguely possible that HP will lower their usual profit margins or even take a loss, but this isn't a "razor/blades" type model - I can't imagine HP's making any money on app sales, so where would they make money? If HP is willing to take the very-long-term view about increasing webOS adoption, maaaaybe. But I doubt it. My guess for the 16GB WiFi model: $599 ($100 more than the equivalent iPad).