iPad 3G Arrives, MSFT & HP Kill Their Tablets

Apple is now shipping the iPad 3G, which should trigger another wave of sales for the now popular device. Meanwhile, curiously, HP has reportedly killed the much-hyped (Flash, “full Internet”) “Slate” tablet previewed by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at CES earlier this year.

My belief was that the HP Slate was destined to fail as simply a netbook without a keyboard. HP’s acquisition of Palm and WebOS was undoubtedly directly related to the decision.

More curious and perhaps more disappointing is Microsoft’s decision to end the Courier tablet project. Engadget quotes a Microsoft representative:

At any given time, across any of our business groups, there are new ideas being investigated, tested, and incubated. It’s in Microsoft’s DNA to continually develop and incubate new technologies to foster productivity and creativity. The “Courier” project is an example of this type of effort and its technologies will be evaluated for use in future Microsoft offerings, but we have no plans to build such a device at this time.

Microsoft had previously denied the existence of the device. It looked “cool” and innovative so it’s too bad it won’t come to market. But there will be numerous other tablets (especially based on Android) coming out later this year.

The netbook market perhaps has “peaked” and tablets will potentially be taking their place (depending on several factors). Android tablets may (emphasis on may) be able to go “head to head” with the iPad on features and UX, but many of these devices will have to compete on price, which several computer OEMs have indicated they’re going to do.

The success of netbooks during the recession has brought the price of laptops down overall. It’s now hard to charge much more than $5oo or $600 for a laptop unless you’re Apple. A bunch of $250 tablets may put additional pressure on the PC market. But Apple will also be forced to lower iPad prices if competitiors are successful with lower-priced tablets.

All that remains to be seen.

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Update: Got a note from someone “in the know” who disputes that HP is killing the Slate. We’ll see.

3 Responses to “iPad 3G Arrives, MSFT & HP Kill Their Tablets”

  1. Marc Says:

    How is the death of Courier disappointing? It never existed in the first place! It was simply a video creation, not real tech, and I never expected it to make it to the market in the first place. It was full of impossibilities.

    • Greg Sterling Says:

      Well the demo looked pretty interesting, especially the two-panel dimension. So I’m sorry to not see it come to market. There’s also a way that the two screen/folding nature of it could mean that it might operate like a true laptop replacement.

      I’ve been arguing that simply putting a laptop OS on a tablet isn’t going to work because it will simply be a “weaker” version of a netbook w/o a keyboard. But . . . if you had a foldking, two-panel device with one panel (as some tablet demos have shown I think) as a keyboard and the other as the screen; and then the “keyboard” part of the folding unit could be used otherwise when it was “upright” it might be an attractive device and truly be used as a laptop alternative.

  2. Nicholas Says:

    Way to go HP! I wrote a post a few weeks ago that tablet manufacturers are missing the point, based on info about HP’s slate using Windows 7. Looks like tonight I’ll have to write that they apparently now do get it. TabletPCs have been around for almost a decade now and illustrate how putting a desktop/laptop OS onto a tablet just doesn’t work. You need to use an OS (and software) designed specifically for a touchscreen device.

    Android is poised to be the direct competitor to iPhone OS, but the fragmentation of versions amongst various devices may be a barrier going forward. It’ll also be hard for OEMs to differentiate other than form factor, battery and price. HP may try to make webOS the best competitor to iPhone OS, giving them a chance at being the 2nd largest player in the tablet space; they could even license webOS to OEMs to increase market share of the OS, attracting more developers to the platform.

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