One of the best things about iPad is true "instant on" and "instant off." The Wintel world has been promising instant on for years, but has failed to produce anything better than problematic "sleep mode." Will the HP Slate offer real "instant on"? Running Windows 7, it's unlikely.
Also, the iPad offers real but rudimentary MPG (multi-touch, physics and gestures) computing. The HP Slate appears to have multi-touch, but not physics or gestures. MPG is the "magical" part of the iPad that is making the thrill of using the device so hard to describe for some users. The HP Slate appears to be essentially a pen-type interface that also works with touch.
Bottom line: The HP Slate may offer features and functions missing from the iPad, but it won't be thrilling to use in the same way the iPad is.
Pundits like pretending that consumers do buy, or at least should buy, devices based on the product alone. But that's a fantasy.
Apple sold more than 300,000 iPads sight-unseen. Critics claim that this phenomenon proves how blind Apple fans can be. But I think the success of the iPhone and iPad Touch help explain it. People pre-ordered based to a very large degree on familiarity and trust built up with three years with the iPhone and iPod Touch.
What about HP's cell phone, the iPAQ? I would guess that most potential buyers of the Slate aren't even aware that the iPAQ is still for sale. It's been a complete failure in the market.
My point isn't that HP can't build a compelling device. My point is that, unlike Apple, it doesn't have tens of millions of happy cell phone users who just want a bigger one. Even if HP shipped a better, more compelling device than the iPad, it would still have a much harder time selling it than Apple has.
HP is one of the few companies that sells the full range of computing, from consumer digital cameras all the way up to enterprise grid-computing data centers.
The company should have taken advantage of this breadth and developed two tablet computers -- one for consumers based on a cell phone platform like Android -- and one for enterprises based on Windows and/or Linux.
The consumer tablet should have been cheap, light, and offered great media support. The enterprise version should have cost what it needs to cost to run Windows or Linux effectively, and optimized for business use.
The enterprise tablet would have been the real opportunity. The company could have been first out of the gate with a real business tool based on touch. By the time big companies start buying these things by the truckload, HP could have been the trusted leader.
Instead, HP is combining consumer and business elements into a product that doesn't fit, won't work well and certainly won't do anything good for HP's reputation in the sub-notebook market. And it won't sell very well, either.
You iPad haters, don't despair. Many more tablets are coming. I'm sure you'll find the right tablet by the end of the year. It's just that the HP Slate probably isn't it.
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