Apple iPad claims another victim - the HP TouchPad

Apple's iPad continues to rule the tablet market as the latest "iPad Killer" - the HP TouchPad - is now out for the count

Apple is sort of like a heavyweight boxer that doesn't get the proper amount of respect. No matter how many devices it trounces, every new tablet that hits the market is seemingly touted as the device that will finally KO the iPad.

And so it went with the HP TouchPad that was released not too long ago. Sporting the WebOS it acquired from Palm last year, HP's tablet promised to provide a compelling user experience a'la Apple. While Android tablets ranged the gamut from sleek to downright laughable, many believed that by controlling both the hardware and software that HP's tablet offering might actually have a discernible impact on the iPad. At last, the narrative went, a company that can beat Apple at its own game.

But like every iPod/iPhone/iPad killer that came before, the HP TouchPad turned out to be a lot more hype than anything else. Launched to mediocre reviews, the HP TouchPad certainly had a sleek UI, but overall performance wasn't up to snuff with what Apple's iPad brought to the table. Indeed, recent reports have relayed that HP engineers noticed that WebOS ran twice as fast on the iPad than on the TouchPad.

The hardware reportedly stopped the team from innovating beyond certain points because it was slow and imposed constraints, which was highlighted when webOS was loaded on to Apple’s iPad device and found to run the platform significantly faster than the device for which it was originally developed.

Earlier this week, reports surfaced that TouchPad sales were beyond weak. Indeed, Best Buy was reportedly sitting upon hundreds of thousands of unsold TouchPad units and were actively seeking reimbursement from HP.

That said, HP still shocked everyone this week when they called an end to the TouchPad experiment after just a few weeks. Indeed, HP announced yesterday that they were axing all of their WebOS based devices, including smartphones and the HP TouchPad.

Not only that, but HP is also seeking to spin off their entire PC business. That's quite a fundamental shift in strategy coming from the world's largest volume seller of PCs.

And who's to blame? Why the iPad of course.

During HP's earnings conference call yesterday, Apotheker explained:

The tablet effect is real and sales of the TouchPad are not meeting our expectations. The velocity of change in the personal device marketplace continues to increase as the competitive landscape is growing increasingly more complex especially around the personal computing arena.

Yep, the tablet effect (i.e the iPad effect) is real.

As for WebOS, HP explained that they will "continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward." Perhaps that means licensing it out to third party manufacturers, something with HP CEO Leo Apotheker said was a possibility not too long ago.

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.