HP addresses TouchPad reviews by comparing webOS to Mac OS X

By on July 4, 2011, 3:00 PM

Jon Rubenstein, Senior Vice President and General Manager of HP's Palm Global Business Unit, sent out an internal email to HP staff over the weekend. He wanted to reach out to his employees to address a growing concern regarding HP TouchPad reviews.

The HP TouchPad was released on July 1, 2011, but reviews were allowed to go out a day early. While HP's first webOS tablet did score some points in various areas, the overall consensus was that the device is too slow and laggy, that there aren't enough apps available, and that the hardware is not up to par with the competition.

Rubenstein told his colleagues that OTA updates are on the way and will address a majority of complaints that are found in the aforementioned reviews. Furthermore, towards the end of the memo, he compared the criticisms of HP's webOS 3.0 to the ones Apple's Mac OS X received some 10 years ago. He argued that while Mac OS X had a poor start, it is doing very well now, and that webOS is in the same position now, meaning that it will do very well in the years to come.

HP's webOS strategy appears to be centered on leveraging its PC business to push webOS in mobile: both on smartphones and especially on tablets. It is way too soon to tell if this will work, but if webOS is going to succeed, another mobile OS will likely end up dying a slow death.

Pre Central has the full e-mail in question, which we've included below:


Today we bring the HP TouchPad and webOS 3.0 to the world. The HP team has achieved something extraordinary – especially when you consider that it's been just one year since our work on the TouchPad began in earnest. Today also marks the start of a new era for HP as our vision for connected mobility begins to take form – an ecosystem of services, applications and devices connected seamlessly by webOS.

If you've seen the recent TouchPad reviews you know that the industry understands HP's vision and sees the same potential in webOS as we do. David Pogue from the New York Times says "there are signs of greatness here." (I've included links to David's review and others below.) You've also seen that reviewers rightly note things we need to improve about the webOS experience. The good news is that most of the issues they cite are already known to us and will be addressed in short order by over-the-air software and app catalog updates. We still have work to do to make webOS the platform we know it can be, but remember…..it's a marathon, not a sprint.

In that spirit, Richard Kerris, head of worldwide developer relations for webOS, reminded me yesterday of the first reviews for a product introduced a little over ten years ago:

"…overall the software is sluggish"
"…there are no quality apps to use, so it won't last"
"…it's just not making sense…."

It's hard to believe these statements described MacOS X – a platform that would go on to change the landscape of Silicon Valley in ways that no one could have imagined.

The similarities to our situation are obvious, but there's also a big difference. Like David Pogue, our audiences get that webOS has the potential for greatness. And like me, they know that your hard work and passion, and the power of HP's commitment to webOS, will turn that potential into the real thing.

User Comments: 11

Got something to say? Post a comment
Cueto_99 said:

I saw it in a video, I believe it was at CES... WebOs is sluggish at best... they really need revamp and add some speed to that interface or else this device won't stay with us for too long...

negroplasty negroplasty said:

Let's compare it to a product which it does not compete... FAIL.

Guest said:

But Rubenstein does a great Steve impression - and I mean that as a compliment! If he has learned more than the talk, HP could be on to something. Said another way, if Rubenstein has studied what makes the Apple mobile devices great, HP will relentlessly improve, innovate and market the products over the next years. That could create a real competitor for Apple.

Nothing in HPs past - here not referring to the real HP, the instrument company, now called? - indicates that they can do this as they have consistently achieved no more than the level of a 2nd place Dell up till now.


Guest said:

I demoed one and I actually thought it was broken; it took so long for an app to open after touching it.

Guest said:

Close to 4 days now with the HP Touchpad and i'm very impressed. Because my previous daily device was the iPad2 and I may just sell now with a little more reassurance from HP that they will act quickly with these improvements. I'm convinced now that the HP Touchpad is a device that can be much greater than the iPad 2. A lot of those negative launch day reviews were published pre-mature and they seemed very biased. Just makes me wonder how corrupted the media can be. It's funny how most of those negative reviews are not showing in the search engines anymore as if they were pulled to protect their reputation.

This letter from Jon Rubinstein is good, but this may not be a clear picture to the average consumer. A better idea for boosting the faith of his staff and all the customers of the Touchpad is to publish the history of OTA updates regarding the premier Palm Pre. I remember the Palm Pre getting several software updates and the product significantly got better each time. I.e. Cut and paste, video and editing, faster calendar, l.e.d. notifications, were just a few of the post release features that were added. The Precentral.net community really expressed their gratitude. This will prove that his sincere words do result in actions. Furthermore, customers need a better understanding on how OTA 'Over the Air' works. Almost stealth would be a good analogy.

Guest said:

I bought the HP TOUCHPAD yesterday and ended up returning it and buying back the Samsung Tab 10.1 i returned as an exchange, it was awful, i love webos but that tablet in particular was just a bad design.. I was so happy about the exchange too, but after playing with it and experiencing the sluggish operation, i decided to go back to Samsung, i wish hp would have spent a little bit more time on design, also it was so heavy, forearms got fatigued quickly because it was so heavy and bulky, i will definitely keep my eye out for the next generation, i just hope that they come out with something that's more portable and features a decent camera, i actually use my camera at work

Guest said:

I thought the same at first, but those demos are slow, even an employee of BestBuy said that in his review. Sometimes those wifi connections suck too. I bought one and although set up required some patience, afterwards the device worked quick and smooth. It still lags a few times, but most of the time it's quick and very responsive. Today it's even better.

Guest said:

So the software wasn't there, and they released it in order to that the hardware wasn't outdated. At least when this happened with Android tablets you couldn't blame Google; everyone wanted to jump on the iPad bandwagon and shoehorned software (Android) that wasn't ready for tablets onto it. And users knew that eventually the software would catch up; if you bought an early Android tablet the only thing you probably weren't counting on was that you'd have to rely on your device manufacturer/carrier to update its software which could takes months after the new Android releases.

But HP is shooting themselves in the foot. They could have waited, maybe had to scrap a hardware design in favor of using the next one (TouchPad 2) and lost a little bit of a jumpstart but had a positive launch instead of a negative one. Oh well.

Guest said:

>> Because my previous daily device was the iPad2 and I may just sell now with a little more reassurance from HP that they will act quickly with these improvements. I'm convinced now that the HP Touchpad is a device that can be much greater than the iPad 2.

You are very funny. Sell iPad 2 now and you will have all the TouchPad experience.

Jibberish18 said:

I fail to see how the hardware is to blame here. We've already seen that well built operating system can do very well with very old hardware (Windows Phone with 1st Gen Snapdragons anyone?) and besides, it's usually not the hardware slowing things down. It's the damn software. Software cannot keep up with hardware. That right their is Androids problems. Everyone wants something better but no one takes the time to sit back and focus on today. Everyone wants tomorrow. Personally I think WebOS not being a popular worldwide OS is one of the tech worlds crying shames. I really hope it expands much more. It is an awesome operating system that was a game changer when the #1 OS (iOS) was beginning to looked outdated and inefficient. (Notifications and whatnot). The only thing that held back WebOS was crappy marketing and a TERRIBLE phone physically.

Guest said:

Your arms got tired from holding the 6-ounce heavier touchpad? You may need to put those tablets down and hit the gym...

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