Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Quickoffice update adds editing, TouchPad deal keeps getting better

29

August

screen_shot_2011-08-20_at_9.39.51_pm.pngThere have been so many bloggers and tech columnists who warned about buying the HP TouchPad, even at the bargain price of $99. They warned of a device with no future and no support and in some ways it appeared they could be right. The hardware alone was worth the $99 (that was my argument) even if all you did was use the TouchPad for a web browser, email checker and movie watcher. And now, it seems, for the people who took a leap of faith to buy the abandoned TouchPad, it could end up being one of the most incredible tech deals, ever.

At first it seemed HP was saying goodbye to webOS completely. Then as hundreds of thousands of people received their TouchPads and started to react, it became apparent that HP's problem with the TouchPad was not the device itself but the price. With ecstatic TouchPad owners gushing about their new toys on Twitter, it was like someone had hit WebOS with defibrillator paddles to first bring back a faint blip and eventually a solid heartbeat again. What a shock.

screen_shot_2011-08-29_at_6.58.14_pm.pngWisely, the folks at HP have followed this lead and have embraced the newfound interest in the TouchPad with open arms. I'm not sure if their intentions were misunderstood from the beginning or whether they changed their minds, but either way it seems webOS may be better off than everyone thought. Last week, these excerpted answers by Mark Budgell in a Q&A on HP's TheNextBench blog made it sound as if webOS support and app development would continue.

We are looking at other ways to leverage the webOS operating system and increase the number of webOS applications. We are fully committed to providing support and service of customers who purchased webOS devices. We expect that HP TouchPad owners can look forward to an over-the-air update that will enhance the platform and add functionality and a growing applications catalog. ~ Mark Budgell, from HP's TheNextBench blog

As if that isn't enough to make TouchPad owners feel better about their purchases, HP then offered a limited numbers promotion codes for a free 6-pack of apps (they quickly ran out) and today they offered a second 6-pack of new apps. Why work so hard to make the TouchPad customer base happy if you're just going to pull the plug? Also today there were reports that Samsung was negotiating the purchase of the webOS in order to make that platform similar to iOS and not dependent on Google's Android.

webos_2011-29-08_190144.png

You want some icing for this cake? The TouchPad comes with the free Quickoffice app which functions only as a Microsoft document reader. TouchPad and webOS phone owners had been begging for months for a version that would let them edit and create documents. Then today, HP released an update that converts the TouchPad version to Quickoffice HD with full document editing. That heartbeat keeps getting stronger and healthier.

Who knows? Maybe this was an elaborate publicity stunt to call attention to an operating system HP believed in but it was overshadowed by the Goliath that is iOS. Sure, they lost money by selling $399 TouchPads for $99 but they're no longer on the shelf, are they? I have been using mine for a week and yeah, it's no iPad, but it's still a great piece of hardware and webOS has a certain elegance. For the last week all I've heard from people is "where can I get a TouchPad?" HP has a lot of momentum with this right now so keep watching. If they can figure out a way to sell TouchPads for $299, they may end up being the challenger Apple and Google never expected.

[Last modified: Monday, August 29, 2011 7:08pm]

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