back to article HP to take one more stab at consumer tablets

If you thought HP's decision to spin off its webOS division into a new subsidiary signaled the end of its adventures in the mobile market, think again. According to reports, the PC maker is reshuffling its Personal Systems Group to launch a new business unit aimed at getting HP back in the tablet race. According to a leaked …


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  1. Goat Jam

    Now that is truly hilarious

    Hire a guy from another company who has also failed spectacularly in the tablet making stakes, yeah that will go better than the Palm fiasco I'm sure.

    Are they going to throw all their toys out of the pram if it doesn't outsell the ipad in the first month again?

    What a bunch of morons HP are.

    1. eulampios

      Re: Now that is truly hilarious

      Hire a guy from another company who has also failed spectacularly in the tablet making stakes

      Did they hire Stephen Elop?

    2. LarsG

      Re: Now that is truly hilarious

      And it will be a Win 8 tablet! Just so they don't break with their consistency.

      1. Thomas 4

        Holy shit

        Just when I thought HP couldn't get any dumber.

        So just to be clear, they scrapped plans for a MeeGo tablet, they shit canned a rather wonderful WebOS tablet and they're cranking out a Windows 8 tablet think *that* will be the winner?


      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Now that is truly hilarious

        most likely these will be funded much like the old Windows CE based handhelds were and that's with Microsoft funny money being paid for each unit sold. HP probably thinks they can't lose by being paid to ship product. Silly HP doesn't realize someone has to buy the things for them to be paid.

    3. Christian Berger

      Re: Now that is truly hilarious

      I'm sorry, but for the first few months Nokias N770 was sold out. The demand for Maemo tablets was quite amazing.

      1. Goat Jam

        Re: Now that is truly hilarious

        If they have a product that nobody is able to buy and that they will no longer produce then that is the very definition of a market failure.

    4. Miss Lincolnshire

      this company wastes money quicker than Assad wastes his opponents

      I'm writing this on one of my two HP Touchpads. £89 a pop with a great OS and some decent apps that mean it now plays all movies. Looking forward to the next bargain when HP panic and walk away again

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Windows ARM tablet market is shaping up to be a real blood bath

    No profit worth speaking off, just like PCs. Great for consumers, probably good for Microsoft, awful for the hardware vendors - maybe HP shouldn't have bailed on it's own platform so quickly.

    The non-iPad tablet market really is becoming another race to the bottom, and Microsoft will be leading the charge - the hardware vendors are fools for tagging along.

    1. Captain Save-a-ho

      Re: The Windows ARM tablet market is shaping up to be a real blood bath

      I'm sure HP feels that they stand to make a lot more money on everything else that goes along with the tablet, which I'm sure isn't too far from the plans of a certain fruity manufacturer either. This is the model that PC OEMs have used for years...who would get into such a low-margin business otherwise?

      That said, they're all still fools.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Great for consumers?

      Says who?

      The gimped ARM versions have nothing worth talking about in the way of software support (it's even more barren than Windows Phone wasteland). Only a total idiot that thought they were getting "proper" windows would buy one.

  3. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    Spectacular failures

    Thinking about the TouchPad and Nokia and a possible second HP go-'round with tablets reminded me why I was so angry with Palm and how HP managed to keep that anger alive.

    A number of years ago I decided it was time to replace my aging Palm IIIx. It had been a trusty device but I needed something which could be more of a replacement for my laptop in times when carrying my laptop was not really practical or just cumbersome.

    I first picked up a Palm TX which ran the new Garnet operating system. It was quite functional, fast, and had great media capabilities. What it lacked, however, was WPA. At the time all of the new wireless I was rolling out was WPA (or maybe it was WPA2, the memory fails but whichever it was the TX did not support it.) I called Palm to ask them about the missing wireless standard and was told there were no plans to support it on the TX and that I should look at the Palm LifeDrive. The LifeDrive was a few clams more, but an interesting device and it supported the wireless standard I needed.

    The Palm LifeDrive is, taken for just the hardware, an impressive piece of kit for the time. A 4GB CF form-factor micro-drive, a large touch screen, rather nice built-in sound, a 400MHz XScale CPU, Bluetooth, wireless, SD card slot, and a newer Garnet OS than the TX. With the Bluetooth I could "tether" to my phone to get Internet access when no wireless was available (something the TouchPad is unable to do unless you "tether" to a WebOS phone) and with a couple of inexpensive applications I was able to convert full DVDs to watch in the device, and DocumentsToGo was a breeze to work with business documents I needed.

    But the operating system was abysmal. Garnet was PalmOS. And it crashed. A lot. Often. Frequently. Always when I needed it not to crash. It was mostly unusable and I simply could not rely on it. Palm issued a 2.0 update around Christmas of that year and within a couple of months afterward the device support was silently discontinue, or at least the lack of competent support made it appear that way. In six months this really sweet device was rendered into a $500 paper-weight.

    Enter HP. I was quite impressed by WebOS inherited by HP, but my bad experience with Palm as a manufacturer coupled with the recent massive loss of quality kept me away. Being purchased by HP gave me hope that things would change, and by the time the TouchPad was finally released I had been considering a tablet but was not happy with the options at the time, which were for the most part iPad or an Android-based tablet. Neither one whets my whistle for various reasons. But WebOS, now here is an operating system and interface I like, my customers like, and I rather enjoy supporting. Given many months wait from announcement to release I had been able to make my decision, though unable (perhaps unwilling) so drop $500-ish on the device at its launch. Giving it time to experience a price drop was probably one of my few good ideas.

    To be fair to HP, I purchased by TouchPad during the fire sale after the discontinuation announcement, so I knew what I was getting into. I had high hopes that HP would realize how the TouchPad could be a viable platform if it would also realize that you cannot sell a non-iPad device at iPad pricing. $300 was the sweet-spot for the 32GB TouchPad on eBay, and it would take a good plan to make it a go. Obviously events did not transpire as such, WebOS is, by various insider reports, a tangled mess internally, amongst other issues. Had I adopted the TouchPad at release, after being keenly interested since its announcement several months prior, I would have been scorned again by the Palm Curse.

    That said, I like my TouchPad for what it is. At least it boots, which is more than I can say for the LifeDrive. The reality for me is that I cannot see HP making a go at another device. At least not doing so with my support. The smell of the Palm Curse is just too heavy right now.

    Paris, once bitten, twice shy.

    1. Christian Berger

      That's why we need to separate hardware from software

      And unlike the way Android does it with a custom OS kernel for every device, we should do it like its done on the PC, by having a stable hardware layer.

      Think about it. You can still use a laptop from 2005 with the newest operating systems. Xubuntu 12.04 runs just fine. And if you don't like Ubuntu, you can install Debian or SuSE or some BSD, or even Windows. You can do things with your laptop the maker never intended it to do. You can use it as a router for example by installing some version of OpenWRT. And all of that can be done without changing a single line of code, just because the Intel PC platform is stable and well defined. The differences between different PCs can easily be probed at runtime after the kernel is already loaded and you have at least access to your initrd.

      We need to reach that point for mobile devices. Otherwise they all will end up as expensive paperweights after a few years.

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: That's why we need to separate hardware from software

        You know that OpenWRT was initially build for MIPS-based Broadcom routers, and is recompiled for different processors by using large chunks of processor-specific code ?

        The flexibilty of Unix comes from an OS that properly hides the underlying hardware from applications, not by slavishly crippling modern designs with emulations of 1980s architecture, like the PC does.

        1. Christian Berger

          Re: That's why we need to separate hardware from software

          Well there is one practical problem with that. It takes work and it takes hardware documentation. Having to modify the kernel for every one of those thousands of SOCs out there is just a waste of time. Not even the boot process is consistent among those devices.

          Just imagine there was a common hardware platform. You could suddenly build and sell ARM servers and ARM-"PCs". Unlike earlier attempts with common platforms based around the PowerPC we now actually have software we'd only need to port once.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They have to say that they are doing this

    just to keep their corporate customers happy.

    Many companies have a policy that mandates that all IT kit comes from a single Vendor (some count IBM and Lenovo as 1 just for theit thinkpads). If said vendor does not sell a 'business class tablet' then their monopoly of IT business in those companies is going to be looked at very closelt when it comes to contract renewal time.

    My company is one of these and HP is the company we have to buy from. Sadly they are already being threatened in several parts of the world where local subsidiaries find that HP don't want to sell certain bits of kit locally. This is not some far flung corner of the planet, this is right here in Europe. Sometimes the Us will mandate a laptop as a developer workstation replacement only to find 1) a 3-6 month delay in selling it in Europe oe 2) it never arrives at all. HP won't despite their contract honor 'grey imports' when it comes to service matters.

    One set of colleagues have already declared indepenence from HP and have given all their managers iPads. They also let their developer had 'Admin rights'. many wipe windows and run Linux instead. Their managers don't care as long as their job gets done.

    So HP has to do this. If they don't more companies like mine (and we spend more than $30M a year on HP Kit mainly for our customers) will look at the likes of Dell and IBM/Lenovo. They will be glad of the business I am sure.

    1. P. Lee

      Re: They have to say that they are doing this

      > just to keep their corporate customers happy.

      Probably more a leverage play to get deeper discounts on their server/desktop OS deals with MS. That probable makes them far more money than any tablet would. Or at least, its far more certain to make money than any tablet is.

  5. Jess

    Will anyone trust them?

    Given their two previous attempts.

    XP tablets that were awful. (I had to support them).

    Something reputed to be excellent that was dumped after a few weeks.

    I think everyone will wait for the fire sale.

    Unless they make a generic Android tablet, who can have any confidence? Even then, with their history, it'd need to be significantly cheaper than say a similar specced Samsung.

  6. Baudwalk

    Who's their CEO of the week?

    So much for captains of industry confidently outmaneuvering the competition.

    HP are more like whitewater rafting: "Left. LEFT! NO, NO! THE OTHER LEFT!"

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sad thing is

    I wanted an iPad but I bought a touchpad at the knock down price of 70 quid and it's actually a bloody good bit of kit. For a HP device the build quality is excellent and webOS is highly recommended. It's a joy to use at times compared to other OSes I've used but they shot it in the foot.

    They never marketed the product and somehow they expected it to go toe to toe with the iPad which airs a lot of commercials.

    HP used to be a great company then the guys who made it great retired or kicked the bucket and they were replaced on the board by suits with business degrees who only cared about the bottom line and it's ruined them. Just like Balmer is ruining Microsoft and just like Apple without Steve Jobs will hit the wall too eventually.

    It's too late for HP to get back into the tablet market because who will trust them after their last foray in the tablet market?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sad thing is

      Then Android is your new port of call, as all the guys that did the good stuff in WebOS, now work there...

      The results are already starting to show, with Jellybean being the smoothest tablet OS bar none, better than anything that Apple can make, or Microsoft can talk about making.

  8. Christian Berger

    Try to find a niche, why not a "workstation tablet"?

    Remimber Sun? Those did well in the 1980s and 1990s, why? They didn't sell PCs, they sold Workstations. It's nearly the same hardware, just different software.

    So please HP, crank out a tablet running Linux (preferably something Debian based) or some sort of BSD, install X11 and a sanely configured tabbed window manager, then add a keyboard and perhaps a few additional window control keys. (windows being in full-screen mode most of the time) Make it as compatible as possible and please don't try to re-invent the wheel.

    Make something for the professional, then price it reasonably. It won't cost you more to produce than some Android tablet, but you won't have to worry about patent infringements, and you can sell it with a hefty markup. The current price for the Nokia N900 shows that people are desperate for something like that.

    I mean just take a look at Android/iOS/Blackberry/WP7 and understand why some people think it sucks.

    1. Stewart McKenna

      Re: Try to find a niche, why not a "workstation tablet"?

      Should be possible. I installed Ubuntu 12.04 on an old Dell 620 and my 20 year old daughter is happily

      using it to access Facebook and whatever she does via a browser. She does it all as 'guest' too...

      I'm thinking of replacing my wife's laptop OS with Ubuntu too

      1. Christian Berger

        @Steward McKenna

        I have done that years ago. It's just so much less support hassle. Although I am critical about the "single user Linux" people going to far, such systems can be a good starting point, as long as you still have a working shell.

        The dumb user typically doesn't care about the operating system, they are not even able to make an informed decision, that's why Windows sells so well. :)

      2. Gareth Gouldstone

        Re: Try to find a niche, why not a "workstation tablet"?

        Glad that you are involving your wife in the decision-making process, then ...

    2. Toothpick

      Re: Try to find a niche, why not a "workstation tablet"?

      I can't see HP (or any other manufacturer) cranking out a Linux tablet. Its specific target audience is too narrow and I'm not sure what you mean by "professional".

      Android / iOS succeed because apps are readily available from a (mostly) central source. Not sure about a Linux store?

      1. Christian Berger

        @Toothpick I see you never used a modern Linux distribution

        Essentially what most Linux distributions since about 2000 have is a "package manager". You have a gigantic list of packages which include just about every application you want as well as the libraries those applications use. On the user side you can search that list, get a description for every packet and click to install it. It will be automatically downloaded and installed. And from that point on, updates will include updates for that package.

        And best of all, unlike the Google Play store, you don't need to register, and it even actually works. It just uses HTTP and FTP downloads. Those are of course signed.

        "Professionals" are people that just want to get their work done. I know you probably are a Windows/Mac person, so you don't have the contrast. In my experience Windows/Mac people spend huge portions of their time on problems with their setup. Since there is virtually no efficient way to automatize things, they also spend much of their time doing the same task over and over again. Another problem is that Windows/Mac software usually uses binary or very complex text formats, while on Unix people try to keep everything as simple as possible.

        Those are all small things, and they have little to do with the kernel. They have to do with the Unix philosophy. That philosophy is what makes Unix incredibly powerful and the reason why so many serious systems run on Unix.

        It's a bit like tech support at ISPs. There is the kind of ISP where whenever you call, you will first have to escalate from the support staff that will tell you to try again, so the support staff that will lead you through simple trouble shooting, to the support staff that actually knows what's going on. If you even get to that point, you will have spent hours on the telephone. Then there's the kind of ISP where you can simply say, "Could you please check the DSLAM if there's a link on my port", and they know what you mean and will help you.

        Unix is kinda like that, but only without the "Shibboleet", you are dealing with people who know a minimum of two programming languages.

        The "two programming languages" thing is also more common on Unix. Back when I was using Windows, I couldn't imagine what knowing 2 languages would be good for. I was happy with knowing Pascal/Delphi. Now on Unix you actually have a powerful shell. Some things which are hard to do in C are simple with a few lines of shell script. Things which are hard in shell script are easy in C. So it makes perfect sense to know both. (replace C with just about any C-like language like Pascal) Even in shell scripts you can use other sub languages. awk for example is a tool which has its own language, however usually only a fraction of it is used in everyday life.

        Well in a nutshell that is the reason why unixoid people like unixoid operating systems, and why so many professionals end up becoming unixoid.

        1. Anonymous Dutch Coward

          @Christian Berge @Toothpick & Linux

          "I know you probably are a Windows/Mac person, so you don't have the contrast. In my experience Windows/Mac people spend huge portions of their time on problems with their setup."

          "Another problem is that Windows/Mac software usually uses binary or very complex text formats, while on Unix people try to keep everything as simple as possible."

          Newsflash: Mac OSX has been a form of Unix from the start.

  9. Daniel Harris 1
    Thumb Down

    I don't think HP will be able to compete with Samsung, ASUS, and 'Microsoft' with the surface. In terms of the actual hardware, pricing, and brand perception.

    ....Not with a Windows 8 Tablet. The Samsung Slate 7 is a great tablet, and it's replacement i'm sure will be great too, maybe similarly priced though.

    If they had stuck with their original WebOS tablet they may have had something a little more unique, I liked the look of that tablet and OS, but it tanked way too early

  10. gaz 7

    Nokia tablets (770, N800, N810, N900) in their day were great and unique devices.

    Nokia failed to turn any of them from skunkworks geek toys to proper consumer devices, and I have always felt that was down to lack of leadership, bottle and commitment at the Executive level.

    Not sure HP is gonna do any better though, as they seem to go though strategies like a fat bloke though pies!

    Although I would love to see a wide base of phones and tablets running Meego or some other fully fledged unix, as an alternative to Android.

    1. Tom 35


      Will it make the stock price go up next quarter?

      It's going to take a few years to really get going? Forget it, I'll be the CEO of a different company by then.

      They need to do something original... maybe outsource their Indian workers to Elbonia.

    2. Christian Berger

      I'd love to see something propper

      I mean the fact that even Android sells so well shows how utterly bad the market is.

      Something better is desperately needed. The high prices for the N900 clearly show that.

  11. AJames

    They never learn

    This is like watching a parade of knights setting off to slay the dragon, one after another, and never returning.

    I have a Nokia N800, one of Nokia's early attempts at an internet tablet. It could have gone somewhere (and they did release a few subsequent models and a phone based on it), but they failed to support it and abandoned both the devices and the Maemo O/S.

    I'm listening to music from my HP TouchPad as I type this (running Pandora with the very nice Apollo app). It's been one of my most-used devices over the last year. I'd never have bought it in the first place if not for the firesale price, but now that I've used it, I'd buy another one. And I've spent freely on apps for it.

    Until one of these companies gets some management with the conviction to suck it up and make a true commitment to an uncertain market like Apple did, they are doomed to be gradually fading also-rans.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They never learn

      Unfortunately too many US companies with the exception of Apple, as one example, are purely focused on the next quarter and why HP ditched their tablet so incredibly too soon and without spending anything substantial on marketing.

  12. El Zorro

    If HP want some success, rather than offering lacklustre clones of whatever everyone else is pedalling, they should do a modern version of their wonderful tc1xxx hybrid tablets from their compaq partner ship in the early 2000s.

    Those were one of the few tablet form-factor machines which were genuinely useful and productive ( having a detachable keyboard ), and some reasonably good engineering.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I look forward to the first review of one of these corporate droneslabs

    HP's famously leading edge corporate vision coupled with their stunning quality control means this droneslab wiill definitely be very different from anything Apple, Samsung or Google could come up with.

  14. Andus McCoatover

    Samsung Galaxy Android fondleslab 8.9....

    ....the standard by which others will be measured.

    Hard, indeed, to imagine how to better that lil' puppy. Love mine.

  15. Andus McCoatover


    Wikipedia: Retail availability July 1, 2011 – August 18, 2011.

    WTF? (Memo to self: never buy anything till it's been out there a few months...)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Yep, and this was despite Jon Rubinstein claiming that this was to be 'a marathon not a sprint' a couple of months earlier and Eric Cador (senior HP chap in Europe) claiming that Touchpad 'would not be number one, but number one plus'.

      The decision to stop selling the Touchpad after such a short life has never been satisfactorily explained, even to those within HP.

  16. KroSha

    Repost from HP thread 28th October

    "Hang on... Decent spec'd hardware, at what was essentially a fair market price, and a reasonable OS failed to sell. So they canned it.

    Now they want to sell what we assume will be a decent spec tablet, which they are going to have to sell at a fair market price, with an unknown OS? Let's face it, MS haven't exactly covered themselves with glory in the smartphone / mobile OS arena, and no one really knows how well the public are going to take to it.

    But they expect it to sell and sell well enough to pay the licensing fees and still make a profit on it?


    Nothing here changes that opinion...

  17. saundby

    They'd better hurry...

    My last good portable HP device, an HP 200LX, is on its last legs!

    Still cranking code on it.

    Time to reconstitute the PPC group and let them do the design job rather than some white box manufacturer's sales rep.

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