What it was: HP’s first WebOS tablet, the most notable result of its 2010 purchase of Palm for $1.2 billion. It was supposed to be the flagship of an array of WebOS devices which HP would release in the years to come: “The flexibility of the webOS platform makes it ideal for creating a range of innovative devices that work together to keep you better connected to your world,” a press release explained.
Announced: February 9th, 2011. And it shipped on July 1st.
What they said when it was new: “What makes HP TouchPad a compelling alternative to competing products is webOS. The platform’s unmatched features and flexibility will continue to differentiate HP products from the rest of the market for both personal and professional use. This is only the beginning of what HP’s scale can do with webOS.”—Jon Rubinstein, HP senior vice president.
When it died: August 18th, 2011.
What they said when they killed it: “The tablet effect is real, and sales of the TouchPad are not meeting our expectations.”—Léo Apotheker, HP CEO
Why it really failed: Because HP didn’t actually have the stomach to enter a remarkably challenging market. In fact, by simultaneously announcing its intention to get rid of its PC business, it pretty much made clear that it doesn’t want to be in the consumer-goods business at all, except for printers (and ink).
Was it a tragedy it bit the big one? I think so. WebOS remained full of promise; now it’s dead, or close enough. We still need serious competitors to the iPad. And if a company isn’t willing to withstand more than six weeks of disappointing sales, it shouldn’t introduce a product at all.
The aftermath: Another TouchPad variant, the TouchPad 4G for AT&T, will apparently die without ever having been released.