The (iPod)Touch(i)Pad

The world’s largest PC company just launched a “media tablet[1]”. Conflating the iPod Touch and iPad brands into “TouchPad” HP joins RIM in announcing an integrated OS/device product to compete as a platform vs. iOS and Android (and to some degree even against Windows).

There are others waiting in the wings. Presumably, Microsoft is hard at work to release a tablet-compatible Windows sometime near the middle of this decade. MeeGo is also going through its gestation period targeting Atom-based tablets. John Gruber notes the excitement around tablet platforms in his article about this post-PC renaissance in computing alternatives. I also noted that the end of the PC era was marked by the end of WinTel at CES.

In that context, yesterday’s WebOS event was perhaps anticlimactic. But it’s still remarkable. Consider how far we’ve come. Step back now and remember the dark days only one year ago when, right after the iPad announcement, a  nearly unanimously chorus was pouring derision on the concept.

AAPLinvestors is still maintaining the iPad death watch which I took a snapshot of back in March 2010. To reminisce: It was exactly one year ago, on Feb. 10th 2010, that Bill Gates was quoted as saying “It’s a nice reader, but there’s nothing on the iPad I look at and say, ‘Oh, I wish Microsoft had done it.’” On the same day, Shannon Zimmerman of The Motley Fool wrote: “[Apple’s] hamster-wheel of innovation … may have hit a snag with the iPad.” Those are just two of dozens other memorable quotes.

I noted last May that the secrecy surrounding the iPad prior to launch was unnecessary. Nobody understood the product for months after it launched (and many still don’t a year later).

Apple keeps a tight lid on new products so that competitors don’t get a head-start on copying, but in the case of the iPad, advance knowledge would not have had any impact. Competitors look at the iPad and see nothing.  They’ll only react once the market explodes and they start to feel belated pain.

Indeed, responses only came after sales figures started to cause consternation among competitors.

How did these presumably keen observers of the market fail to notice the sea change under way? This is not just a rhetorical question. It really is hard. Students of disruption know that spotting such change is a difficult skill to obtain. But it is a skill, not a gift.

So here we are, 12 months later and the derision has turned to flattery by imitation. The only scorn I hear about the TouchPad is that it can’t come to market fast enough.


  1. I find this term repugnant and highlight it here only to ridicule those who coined it.
  • Brisance

    I hope HP has a plan for reaching out to consumers and getting them to look at the TouchPad because the Apple Stores are doing a very good job at it. People get to use the device and can make a purchase decision easily.

    • Traipsed

      HP opened an HP Store in downtown Vancouver a few months ago, likely the start something big for them.

      • Hamranhansenhansen

        Likely to close after a year like Sony and Nokia stores. Although after yesterday, I would say they doubled their chance of success.

  • News of the PC's death is somewhat exaggerated. True, if the majority of users out there are content consumers, there will be less PC's around as iPads are great for casual consumption of content. For the content creators (programmers, artists, video editors, professional writers), the PC will still remain a powerful tool because of its versatility (ability to customize and expand functionality with HDs, various expansion cards, and peripherals) and sheer memory and compute power to crunch out the content. I do feel that most content creators would prefer to do most of their work on laptops and this is starting to happen as more people use MacBook Pros instead of PowerMacs to create content. It's nice to do work on things in your local cafe instead of in an office. Perhaps the low-end PC will die, but the high-end PCs may still have a market for those who need the power.

    • dchu220

      The 'death' of an industry implies that there is no more growth left to capture, not that it will cease to exist.

    • Iosweeky

      programmers, artists, video editors, professional writers – thats a tiny percentage, actually a fraction of 1 percent, of the current computer market.

      • chano

        Yes, but the consumers of their work number in the billions – they are the great unwashed masses of computing; they consume much and their creation needs are less rigorous; these are the tablet target audience.
        Furthermore, tablets are at the start of their evolutionary cycle. More power, expandability (via docks etc) and better software are just a few months and years away imo. Print access on the move will become commonplace like grocery stores that offer photocopying on the cheap.
        There's much to look forward to.
        We can all be road warriors, to some degree!

    • qka

      For better or worse, the desktop PC will be with us for a long time. Like it or not, it tablets will not replace desktops in the work of all the corporate and office drones doing all that boring but necessary work at their employer's place of business.

      Other than the growth of that sector of users, the growth of desktops is likely to be limited to replacements. Likewise home users; anyone who wants a computer at home already has one. The future of the desktop in the home is going to be a contest of replacement with another desktop or replacement by a tablet.

      • chano

        I disagree. For most office staff a tablet, like the iPad, furnished with a network dock is the ideal work tool. Plug into the office system and peripherals when at work; disconnect and carry it when out of the office. More than good enough for occasional minor mobile number crunching.
        Connect to the office remotely, when necessary.

    • FalKirk

      "News of the PC's death is somewhat exaggerated."-Victor Ng-Throw-Hing

      No one is talking about the end of PCs or the death of PCs. What we're talking about is the end of PC dominance. And that is very real. It's over. It's not being exaggerated at all.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      Yeah, the low-end PC will die, but that is over 90% of PC's! The average selling price of a Windows PC is around $400. Above $1000, the Mac has 90% market share.

      The irony of the "iPad cannibalization" question is Apple is the only PC vendor whose PC line can withstand cannibalization by a tablet line. Mac sales are up since iPad. HP knows that their customers are going to pass on a $599 HP notebook and buy a $599 tablet, and they want it to be an HP tablet, which is why they bought Palm. They had to attempt to save their own life.

      iPad is by far the best $500 PC ever made. It cannot be disputed. You buy a Mac now not to get a sleek, fast, modern, standardized browser with great typography and multimedia; you buy it to get the Unix Web stack of Apache, PHP, Perl, Ruby, and the QuickTime media production ecosystem and so on, so you can make websites for iPad users. The Mac is the development platform for iPad and other consumer devices.

  • arv_leo

    Another OS…really!!
    I don't care swanky your hardware is(I do but not nearly enough)…I need apps to( or that) work!!! They don't have a strategy in place to win over app developers…or not an explicitly state one. Did not even hear about any announcements regarding developing major(popular) apps in-house…Why would consumers buy devices without sufficient apps to choose from. Its not easy porting apps from one platform to another let alone maintaining various versions on multiple OS!!
    Clearly I am missing smth!!

    • dchu220

      I think one of the reasons they are announcing so far in advance of the release date (summer?) is to remind developers that they exist. Looks like they still have a lot of things to figure out before release, such as "Where am I going to find 10" touch displays that Apple hasn't already bought".

      • Russell

        Adding to your comment about the advance announcement from HP, it is also an attempt to make the buyer pause before going out and buying that iPad first.

      • capnbob66

        It won't work.

    • kevin

      Well, HP said they announced early in order to give developers time to get apps ready. They hosted a developers gathering last night. I think they are also partnering with Amazon for music content.

      But the killer is that the TouchPad won't be released until summer – which could be June or September. By then, iPad 2, iPhone 5, and iOS 5 will be out (or at least, for the latter two, about to ship). This "delay" until summer is partly what wounded the Pre, and by extension, webOS. I guess that's what happens when you're unable to quickly realize what Apple has done.

      HP also didn't, or maybe couldn't, announce the price – at least not until, as dchu220 implies, they figure out how much they'll need to pay for those few 10" touch displays they can find. 😉

      • r00tabega

        HP should leverage Amazon for more than just music, they should be partnering with Amazon for movies and apps too, since they have absolutely no expertise on how to run a media or software store.

      • kevin

        TouchPad will have a Kindle app for ebooks; they might be doing movies (wasn't clear); I don't think anything was said about an Amazon app store for webOS.

    • Alan

      By announcing that they will run the OS on laptops and desktop PCs HP is hoping to excite developers into building for the platform. If it were just another tablet with a new OS it would be a touch sell for developers to create apps for it. This is there way out of the chicken and egg problem for tablets – to immediately create a market of 100M devices that can run WebOS. Blackberry is using Flash/AIR as their solution, Android is assuming the small-screen apps will work in the interim and that devs will create tablet-specific apps once they start selling tablets in number. MS is banking on legacy windows apps as far as I can tell.

      • capnbob66

        Have HP shown any actual model or example of how mobile touch apps will work on any of their PC and printer products? 10.7 Lion hasn't. It is purest vapor-bait until they show something (that doesn't rely on a low volume touchscreen PC). Angry Birds on an OfficeJet printer?

      • kevin

        HP does have the TouchSmart desktop computer, though it is based on Windows 7. I would think the concepts from there would be a starting point for a webOS version..

    • Al Roker Martyrs Brigade

      Sure, it's yet another OS. But if I were running HP, I'd do exactly the same thing. The best thing HP can do now to lay a foundation for future profitable growth is to own its OS, and sell devices (including PCs) that run it. Very much an uphill battle, because devices and their OS's are just parts of a larger ecosystem, which for HP doesn't exist yet. But with a very compelling OS (that somehow also works on PCs), highly focused product offerings, and good marketing…maybe they can pull it off. I'd rather be in that business than be the 37th provider of "Android" phones and tablets.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      They do have a developer strategy:

      • put webOS on every HP device, including PC's (where you'll have a TouchPad window running on top of Windows) and printers (where you have a little Pre-like screen)
      • they have a special set of iOS-like C API's and a "Porting Development Kit" to make it easier to port from iOS to webOS (this is potentially quite big because all mobiles other than iOS run Java apps, a whole other language than iOS, Mac, Windows, Unix, PlayStation, all use, so if HP becomes another true C playpen then porting is much easier, that is what C is about, portable apps)
      • they have a ridiculous idea that anybody wants to make HTML5 apps that only run on webOS
      • they run FlashPlayer
      • they hired a guy who used to be Apple's developer evangelist

      The main thing is they have to build an audience of 5 million or so app-hungry consumers. So they have to make their product great out of the box for a while until 3rd party apps materialize.

  • Chris

    I like your title – surely Apple will rename the iPod Touch to the iPad Mini. The only difference is the size.

    • Alan

      100% wrong. The difference is the apps that work on a 10" screen that don't work on a small screen. I wouldn't be surprised if a larger iPod Touch (say 5" or so) was announced but running iPhone apps, not iPad apps.

  • Horace, you're so cruel 🙂 I found it refreshing to see that HP plans to deploy WebOS also to PCs. I'm not sure what the touch optimized platform might be like on a non touch device, but the direction is ambitious. Maybe they'll reach the 100M units annually as they promised (I think they were referring to next year).

    I think HP has a great piece of technology in their hands. I'm just not too sure if they can gain the required mind share and retail reach (including operators) to really make an impact. But I think this as good a try in building a cross category ecosystem as any. Maybe they'll start making TVs next, or again to be more specific (

    • r00tabega

      I'm not sure that WebOS requires touch to be successful as a desktop OS.

      The iPad can be hacked to run a BT mouse:

      So theoretically, any similar OS could run either touch or mouse/trackpad…
      This could be the equivalent of ChromeOS but without the requirement for network to exist.
      It could also be exactly where Apple is headed with a hybrid iOSX.

      • Hamranhansenhansen

        Apple's developer tools come with an iPad simulator that runs in a window on the Mac. It is amazing how much it sucks to use iOS with a mouse.

        But HP has a line of touch PC's. We'll see how they do.

        Installed base is not really what developers need, it's really app store users that are needed. If webOS is just more crapware on an HP PC it does nobody any good.

    • WaltFrench

      “I think HP has a great piece of technology in their hands.”

      As many said (a year ago) about the iPad, and was my first reaction on hearing of the Playbook specs, and many (appropriately!) said about the Xoom, and…

      I was rather amazed at iSuppli's bill of materials for the Verizon iPhone, ranked by cost: a quarter of the total bill of materials for the memory (RAM plus Flash); almost as much for the hi-res screen; the multiple radios just ahead of the mechanicals; and the CPU/GPU pegged at #6 on this list (reorganized by me), a fraction of cost of the camera (!) subassembly and only a bit ahead of the critical battery.

      Thanks to a couple decades of Moore's Law, what we think of as the pivotal technology is no longer what we buy. Always #1 on the specs list, the CPU will of course keep improving, but it is increasingly NOT what defines the product. It may never again account for 5% of a device's cost.

      Apple's design standards are of course legion, but their intense efforts to make a usable device that gets by with a quarter of the (relatively expensive!) RAM of competitors is not something that you can slap together, as users of slower, albeit nominally more powerful alternatives, have found out.

  • In the past, HP was known for its engineering talent. Engineers could be creative though as always the truly creative ones went on to establish their own companies. But good engineering and good management can take you a long way. Then starting in the 1990s HP seemed to change focus to simply sales and flooding the market with slight variations of the same products. Customer satisfaction and quality were lost in the shuffle (granted, most of my experience has been with their consumer and small business divisions). What was left? Engineers who stayed within the company culture, not making waves, and salesmen who just wanted to get product out the door and could care less whether customers liked it or not. Once a product is sold, they take no responsibility for lack of promised updates (example: my last HP business scanner took 2.5 years to get updated drivers from HP in spite of nearly monthly promises that they were just around the corner and when they came the drivers eliminated half of the scanner's original functionality).

    Is anyone really surprised they chose the knockoff TouchPad to name their tablet? Me-too-itis is a terrible affliction that is debilitating for a company. It eliminates the very word 'create' from 'creative'. HP looks at the iPad and says, "We gotta get us one of those in our product range", but the people who make the decisions have no understanding of why it is a success and have very little new to offer. They will sell a certain number, no doubt, but it will always be a drop in the bucket compared to their other businesses and they will bore eventually when it doesn't shower glory on the top management like the iPad does Apple. I believe they'll simply stop talking about it one day in the next year or two and remove it from their list of products. It will be the same process as occurred with all the iPod killers.

    • dchu220

      I would be shocked if HP didn't put up a hard fight to win in the tablet space. The iPad is quickly encroaching in on their territory. (The corporate IT business). The value of corporate sales alone are worth a ton of money and it's theirs to lose.

      • FalKirk

        "I would be shocked if HP didn't put up a hard fight to win in the tablet space."-dchu220

        Agreed. I love WHAT Palm is doing. What I'm concerned about is WHEN they are doing it. Getting their own OS and disentangling themselves from the sinking ship that is Windows was brilliant. But their timing – not so much.

        Maybe it's only the first inning in the tablet wars and HP/Palm still has plenty of time to get in the game. Or maybe Apple already won the first game with the iPhone, the second game with the iPod Touch, the third game with the iPad and HP is coming into a seven game series already down three games to none.

      • I agree they will fight hard but I am skeptical to how long their staying power will hold out once they hit resistance and the returns aren't quick in coming. I have now taken the time to watch the presentation of from yesterday and they clearly are thinking like Apple as much as they can. Rubinstein was there doing his best Steve Jobs and they have definitely taken a page (slab) from Apple's playbook (oops) in terms of presentation of the event and they may be able to co-opt much of Apple's business strategy and convince themselves they came up with it. What I doubt is that consumers and even businesses will buy into it in large numbers. Apple is no longer an obscure player viewed as suspect. People now know Apple offers an integration not seen previusly and they like it and want more of it. The threshold to entry in the space is potentially too high in terms of mindset and HP will have to overcome its association with Wintel in most of it's cutomers' minds. But I fully acknowledge I may be underestimating HP's commitment and the market's willingness to they their products. They do have a nice looking ecosystem on paper. They question is whether it is glossy paper that slides right out of your hand or fly paper that you can't put down.

      • dchu220

        I think the tablet space will eventually be huge. Bigger than the PC market. I think HP's board understands how important it is. I think it's why they let a high flying exec go. Under Hurd's leadership HP completely miffed on two hot markets, mobile devices and databases, and were forced to buy their way in. I'm sure this didnt sit well with a the board of a company that was once considered the most innovative in tech.

    • Xavier Itzmann

      «I believe they'll simply stop talking about it one day in the next year or two and remove it from their list of products»

      Most likely scenario, unless HP makes a bet-the-company company commitment to WebOS.

      Only if HP realizes this is an all-or-nothing proposition can anyone hope that WebOS will even be alive in five years. If management and the board see this as just another product line, well, then WebOS is already a walking dead.

    • Brenden

      Two good examples of the "truly creative ones" leaving HP to form their own company: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      It's not about engineers, it's about designers. What use is a faster chip if you put Windows on it? At least TouchPad has some design in it, but if you put Pre, TouchPad, and Envy on a table next to iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Pro, it is really embarrassing. That is part of the continuing tradition in technology companies of being anti-design and then stealing design from Apple.

  • I've watched Engadget's hands on video a few times now. WebOS user interface really is a very simple elegant UI. There are little touches that enable users familiar with a windowing environment to grasp whats happening without resorting to fiddly window management. The 'compose new email' dialog is a great example where multiple windows from the same App become stacked in a fan shaped representation, while other Apps remain in other cluster to the left. It's both obvious how to return to a window and surprisingly easy to identify an earlier screen where a task remains unfinished. I'd forgotten how well WebOS works as an easy consumer friendly interfaces.

    And that may be the problem. HP faces an uphill battle for the hearts and minds of the press (who are constantly placing bets on Android) and the attention of consumers for their products. How many OS brands can consumers recognise? If HP can get their product in front of customers at a price that is attractive (equal to iPad) then Apple could really have a slick competitor.

    Right now (like the Honeycomb tablets) I can't see how anyone is going to compete. They will need to be in stock everywhere that the iPad is just to have a chance at a sale. This is something that didn't happen for the Palm Pre and it doomed a very good product.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      They have to be much cheaper than iPad, but they are going to be more expensive. They are running a dual-core 2011 ARM with 512 MB of RAM and they are slower than iPad, which is a single-core 2010 ARM with 256 MB of RAM. Apple can bring in a new iPad at the current prices and sell last year's for $379, and that $379 tablet has 400,000 more apps than HP, including 75,000 full-size apps, it has iTunes and Netflix and Hulu, the Apple brand and iPad name, a real iPod, AirPlay, and it is FASTER because the software is so much faster, in spite of the cheaper components.

      Android is a non-issue. The Verizon iPad and iPhone pushed Android even further into the low-end. Then the Motorola XOOM with Android Vista at $799 plus about $100 in fees turned Android tablets into a punchline. Android 2.x is going to be used on more tablets than 3.x, but they will be $200 tablets. The Barnes and Noble Nook is the most successful Android tablet. HP is not competing with those tablets, and Apple is not yet, but might steal the high-end of the low end with a $300 range iPad.

  • Eric D.

    No doubt HP is also preparing to release the AirBook laptop.

  • MattF

    A major difference between the iPad and everybody else is that the iPad evolved upward from the iPhone, rather than downward from a PC. I'm not saying that the iPad is 'just a big iPhone'– the thing that the first reviewers missed is that the larger size makes a qualitative difference– but the iPad's position in Apple's mobile family tree is a big difference that everyone missed.

    • Lee

      I see references to this often: that the iPad is a step up from the iPhone. As I hear from time to time, the iPad product was in development well before the iPhone at Apple. The iPhone presented a more logical way to introduce the technology to the market before creating a new market. But from a development standpoint the iPad isn't an outgrowth of the iPhone, it's the other way around.

      So Apple has been ready for this for a long time.

      • capnbob66

        I think the issue was not logical but logistical. I don't think they could make a 1.5lb 10hr, IPS tablet at $500 in 2007. If they could, they would have. If the ipad growth continues on target, they could be about equal in unit sales by the end of 2010. iPad is a pure CE play and has more potential than the iPhone IMO. Of course the success of the iPhone has made the ipad growth exponentially more explosive but iPad first would not have been a bad way and maybe a better way to go had it been possible.

      • Lee

        I'm just going on what I've read, that the iPad was in development at Apple for longer than the iPhone. How much longer I don't know, but I understand it was not the case that the iPhone launched and then Apple decided to build a tablet. Whether the iPad (or iOS) took the form it did early in the process or late, I don't know.

        Your suggestion that the iPad WOULD have launched first but for logistical reasons is a reasonable take; I think it's also reasonable to believe that the iPhone was necessary to "blaze a trail" for the iOS-and-other-touch-OS's to follow, including the iPad: as a consumer, with that order of operations, I don't have to learn how to use a computer differently…I have to learn how to use a phone differently, and there was lots of obvious room for improvement there. So consumers would be right on board from day one for a phone that changed the usage paradigm. The iPhone establishes a beachhead, and when iPad appears it's not so alien.

        But I'd like to hear more of what you think the other way would have played out, had iPad come first and iPhone come second. I grok your "logistics" angle.

    • Lee

      (addendum) That doesn't invalidate MattF's point, though: some of these other tablets are taking their functionality cues from PCs, to a greater or lesser extent, whereas the iPad is a different paradigm entirely. I'm even more impressed by that than by the suggestion that the iPad was an outgrowth of the iPhone: you would expect an computer-in-a-phone to be a different paradigm, and to "grow up" from that into the iPad is impressive enough. But when in fact (so I understand) the iPad came FIRST, then that's creating this new paradigm from whole cloth.

    • davel

      The iPad is just a phone in a 10" space without the phone.

      That however does not detract from its usefulness.

      Now when they add a camera for facetime and a higher res screen it will be a slick product.

      They also need to improve app management, an elegant way to move data between a pc and the tablet and tighter integration with printers.

      The ipad is nice. I do not doubt that Apple will continue to be a leader here.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      No, you have it backwards. Exactly backwards.

      iOS is a touch interface and application interface on OS X. Mac OS is a mouse interface and application interface on OS X. It's the same exact OS X. If you put an iPad and Mac on a desk together, in both cases you are looking at CoreGraphics, listening to CoreAudio, reading CoreText, watching QuickTime media, being informed by CoreAnimation, knowing where the device is via CoreLocation, communicating with musical instruments via CoreMIDI, rendering the Web with WebKit, and talking to hardware via the xnu kernel.

      The reason iOS devices do so much more than other mobiles is they have PC heritage. The apps are native C, like a PC, not Java in a virtual machine, like a phone. The interface is drawn in the GPU, like a PC, not in the CPU, like a phone. A million other examples.

      The reason other mobile systems are showing off "real multitasking" (like a PC) and "the full Web with Adobe Flash" (like a PC) and complicated windowing user interfaces (like a PC) is over compensation. They want to hide that they are phones by pretending to be PC's. Apple doesn't have to do that, they are not just a phone. They have a PC class OS, PC class apps, and PC class screen. They could have put a much more complicated interface on iPad, but people don't want that. Most people HATE PC's. But they love iPods. So iPad very deliberately is an iPod PC. Other vendors should be working on their native C API's, not their Windows Vista imitations.

  • Lee

    (further addendum) That's not to say that it couldn't have developed a different way: say the iPad was in development but (the eventual) iOS wasn't worked out yet; then Apple starts work on the iPhone; then the iPad development team (or Steve Jobs, or someone) says "Wait a minute, that would be a great way to go about things with the iPad, too!" MIght have happened that way, too: iPad development is older, but the iPhone work guided the later iPad work.

    I'm not privy to the actual details. But I find it fascinating to think about.

    • kevin

      Agree that it is fascinating.

      I think the key concept for Apple was the idea to simplify the interface (relative to the PC/Mac) – so that it is just about a blank slate. Apple has just the thin status bar at the top (and apps can choose not to show it). But Honeycomb, webOS, and WP7 are thinking they can improve upon iOS by adding more and more stuff to the home display. But I'd have to believe that Apple tried out widgets (like they have implemented on the Mac Dashboard) and decided to not include them because of the clutter they introduce.

  • 2sk21

    I plug my laptop into the company LAN in my office and leave it there the whole day. When I need to go to a meeting, I simply take my iPad along and use VNC to keep in touch with my laptop. Much easier to carry an iPad around than a laptop. Next step, since many organizations are moving to virtual desktops in any case, what about using iPad's to access their desktops on the cloud.

  • Paul Nash

    The "analysts" (especially financial ones) generally love their Blackberries and think of Apple at toys (they aren't "manly" enough). So they think that the iPad and iPhone are doomed to failure, and the Blackberry and Playbook will rule the world. If this is how the billion-dollar-a-year Wall Street gurus think, no wonder the US economy is in a nose-dive.

    • WaltFrench

      Last I looked, you're on the web site of one such analyst, so your generalizations are overbroad.

      My own firm's tech analyst has been gaga over Apple for years, and these days it's hard to find one who calls the stock a "sell." (Yes, you'll have "I told you to worry" justifications whenever Jobs goes emeritus.)

      And let's not be toooo hard on even the naysayers; Jobs struck me, in introducing the iPad, as being as tentative as I have ever heard him. Allow me a quote from one of this site's favorite authors, Clayton Christensen and his Innovator's Dilemma mantra:
      (see <a href="” target=”_blank”>

      “6. … Followership in sustaining technology does not affect market share. Followership in disruptive technology can be fatal to market share. Therefore leadership in disruptive technology creates enormous value. …
      “7.Discovering New and Emerging Markets. Because markets for disruptive technology are unknowable, managers should plan to learn and discover, NOT plan and execute. Many management skills are inappropriate, and can paralyze a firm. Agnostic Marketing: no one, not the firm or the customers know how a disruptive technology can be used. New markets are not understood, therefore they are inaccurately termed high-risk.”

      Apple has taken big bets (not, Christensen would claim, big risks) and adapted beautifully to win the leadership advantage. I think the first example of learning on the iPhone was when developers insisted on a robust app environment; I imagine Apple thought they'd eventually get to it, but redoubled their efforts after the stunned silence when Jobs told devs to use HTML. That learning has yet to come to RIM, who are proposing HTML as a primary dev tool. Maybe others can comment about the quality of development tools for WebOS; I personally see customized apps as the difference between a viral tidal wave and the drop of vermouth I like in my martinis.

      These competitors think the media tablet marketplace is reasonably well-defined and Apple is obviously out trying to reinvent it. Google gets this but I don't see it from any other platform.

  • Apple isn't one year ahead, or even two. The iOS platform is four years ahead of the competition. The iOS SDK is over three years ahead. iOS is based on OS X which is based on NeXT. All of Apple's success is the result of a long term investment in an elegant Operating System. Google, Microsoft, Nokia none of them can turn around and spin up a new mobile OS (with a rich SDK and tons of great Frameworks and Libraries) in less than a year.

    They were caught flat footed and their only option is to "buy the summit." Google bought Android. HP bought Palm. Nokia is joining it's efforts to Microsoft which is working like mad to build a new OS. Are there any other small, elegant OSs out there to be acquired?

    • FalKirk

      You make a good point. Horace is always talking about the integrated model. There's no one with deeper integration than Apple. Apple's iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad (and even Apple TV) all run on the same OS. Both iOS and OS X run on the same kernal. The two interfaces are moving as close as a touch-driven and a mouse-driven interface can get. NeXT/OS X/iOS is all one and the same thing. Apple builds everything on that foundation.

      • Well, Silverlight applications can run in phone, in the web, in desktop.

      • David

        Well, so can Java, but I don't think we are talking about applications, but operating systems. OS X is proving to be incredibly scalable, at least downwards. It would have been interesting to see how well OS X scales up to "big iron".

      • Running the same Java app in browser/phone/desktop requires rather strong modifications. While silverlight, I think, needs only little tweaked UI. From ecosystem point of view this is more important, because it not require strong effort to target more platforms. The same thing is with XNA, it can be used to make games for XBox, Phone, and desktop. It is important to have the same OS in TV, Phone and Tablet from developer perspective, because app target is broader, but it looks like MS stack covers even more. Pity that there aren't devices/marketshare to use it.

      • David

        There is a world of difference between porting an app across runtimes, which is what you seem to be talking about and scaling operating systems which is what I believe Falkirk is talking about.

        It just isn't an appropriate comparison.

      • Hamranhansenhansen

        Java and Silverlight are both copies of Apple's Cocoa. What Microsoft is doing with Silverlight now is what Cocoa was doing in the 1990's, when it ran the exact same apps on NeXT and Sun and Microsoft and operating systems, taking on the look and feel of each as it did so. Today, Apple is doing the exact opposite: they have 2 different versions of Cocoa (one for mouse, one for touch) both running on the exact same OS X. They could deploy the Mac OS Cocoa on Windows if they like, and may do in order to run a future Cocoa iTunes on there. They could deploy the iOS Cocoa on another phone. The technology is there.

        But I think the original poster's point was about what is under Cocoa and Silverlight. Apple runs the same OS X on all of its hardware, while Microsoft has 2 independent systems, a big one for PC's and Xbox and a baby one for mobiles. The lack of power in the baby one is an issue, which is why they announced they are porting the big one to mobiles. But it will take them minimum 2 years by their reckoning.

      • David

        I'm not sure if I agree that Java is a copy of Cocoa, especially where I play on the server. Explain.

    • TomCF

      I think Symbian has (or had) the building blocks, but got fragmented at the UI level.

      Android is more than just the summit. It's built with the assumption that everything will be in the Google "cloud". Apple skates to where the puck will be in the near future. Google's skating a bit further out. Their problem is that other than search, they're *always* further out, and nothing ever really gets finished. If they rein it back in just a bit, they're really on par with Apple.

      Windows Phone is also there, but Microsoft has their legacy anchors tying them down a bit, and seem to always be a step behind. If they got some good leadership, I think they could quickly become a strong competitor.

      I think the way to tell the pretenders from contenders is to see who is just copying Apple's leadership, and who is presenting new ideas.

      I didn't understand the Motorola Xoom ad that aped 1984 while offering a device that looks and acts just like every other leading iPad…I mean tablet.

  • poke

    It'd be interesting to collect together the few people who got it right and recognised the iPad as a significant event back in January 2010 when it was announced. Is there anything they have in common?

    • dchu220

      I predicted it would be big, but that's only because I didn't want to feel like an idiot for waiting in line to buy one.

    • asymco

      I did collect a few. From a year ago:

      • poke

        Mostly design-oriented people. That was my impression at the time too. Everyone who got it was either of the thoughtful Apple commentator variety or a designer.

        Now, personally, when I got to use an iPhone the first time I said, "I want this, but with a bigger screen, to be my computer." I had a Steve-Jobs-at-Xerox moment: it was just obvious every computer will work this way. So I was really pleased when the rumours that the Apple tablet would run OS X and use "complex gestures" turned out not to be true. But I still thought adoption would be much slower than it has been.

    • WaltFrench

      “Is there anything they have in common?” Most of them were named, “Horace Dediu.”

      Maybe a hardcore Apple fan on the list, someone who wildly threw out a ridiculous number but had no justification for it.

      • Capablanca

        Some got it even before 2010. Perhaps the time when more people should have caught on is when details of the iPhone SDK were released.

    • dchu220

      If you really want to go back, Alan Kay, I believe, was the first person to push the tablet form factor. He was a member of PARC and an ex-employee at Apple.

    • uoR

      "Most of the iPad reactions I've read have been negative, but I have been completely satisfied with what Apple announced. iPad is exactly the product I've been wishing for ever since I wrapped my mind around the iPhone and its constraints. While the rumor mill was churning with all kinds of crazy possibilities for the Apple tablet, I mostly rolled my eyes, because I felt strongly that all Apple needed to do to revolutionize computing was simply to make an iPhone with a large screen. Anyone who feels underwhelmed by that doesn't understand how much of the iPhone OS's potential is still untapped."

  • davel

    The John Gruber link is very compelling.

    The rumors of the new ipad2 leave me flat. An upgrade model in the fall makes a lot of sense.

    I looked at the engadget video the other day and the new tablet is a carbon of the ipad with a camera and a better interface. I do not think hp will beat apple at pricing and although they may sell their share I have yet to see a product announced released in the tablet space that would worry apple.

    As Horace says in this piece, the competitors still do not get the ipad, but the consumer does.

    • David

      I'm not sure it is better. Let's take the card metaphor. I think that people(not you) who go on about "true multitasking" just haven't really watched non-technical people in action on computers. None technical people, from what I've seen, still don't get multitasking even in 2011. As long as they get alerts for email, hear music when browsing and wake up to their "The Daily" updated(Apple does need to enable some kind of background processing), they will be happy.

      I think that this card metaphor will prove slightly less confusing that Android's "Vista" inspired GUI. I like it, but we, the people who frequent such sites are a different breed with respect to this type of technology than other folks.

      I don't think the failing in in non-technical people. I don't know how to install windows, drop a transmission or remove an appendix. I don't believe that those people are interested in widgets or metaphors. Those are conventions created to compensate for the weakness and limitations of the modern GUI interface.

      • David

        And by windows, I mean actual, building windows! 😉

      • kevin

        "drop a transmission or remove an appendix, drop a transmission or remove an appendix."

        By transmission, you meant auto transmission, not digital transmission (on AT&T, no less). Right?

        By appendix, you meant a body part, not a section that is part of a document, right?


      • Davel

        U make some good points.

        However I find the interface from the brief demo I saw to be more compelling than iOS. Will the avg Joe feel the same? I don't know.

        I feel apple needs to create a better way to organize apps and running processes. I am ok with the way to switch apps, but feel webos seems better in that regard.

      • Kizedekki

        I think it's already on its way.. Isn't the next update supposed to have two- or three-finger swiping to flick between open apps?

  • OpenMind

    Every revolution claims a few lives. IBM dominated mainframe, with digital, DG, Wang, etc making some noises. Then came PC revolution, all but IBM were dead, real death. IBM itself became antique and self-transformed to a service company. Wintel dominated PC, with SUN, Silicon Graphic, Apollo, etc making some noises. Then came mobile revolution, all but Wintel are dead, real death. What will Wintel transform to?

    • r00tabega

      Interesting take.
      I'd like to extend your philosophy and say that it's about time that companies like Microsoft learn what we as information workers have known for years: If you don't re-invent yourself every few years, you calcify and become unable to compete in the real marketplace.
      Markets transform, despite all the efforts to prevent change. When change comes, will you be ready and embrace?

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      You totally left out Apple/NeXT.

      Wintel is a clone of Apple and NeXT. The IBM PC was a clone of the Apple II, Windows through 3.1 cloned the original Mac, then Windows 95 cloned the square gray interface, "My Computer" hierarchy, and World Wide Web from NeXTSTEP (yes, that's where the Web comes from.) What is replacing Wintel is the real thing. Macs are 90% of high end PC's now, and iPads are coming for the low end.

      Look at Apple's influence: Apple WebKit is on every modern device; MPEG-4 (standardized QuickTime) is on every modern device; the ARM SoC that is considered to be the future is from the 1993 Apple Newton and the 2001 Apple iPod; and HP's TouchPad presentation was made with Apple Keynote running on an Apple Mac or Apple iPad.

      If you look at the iPod market, that is the PC market a few years out. Who gets to be Samsung is the only question that has not been answered yet. HP thinks it is them.

  • FalKirk

    "Microsoft is hard at work to release a tablet-compatible Windows sometime near the middle of this decade."-Horace Dediu

    Oh, SNAP!

    "Nobody understood the product for months after it launched (and many still don’t a year later)."-Horace Dediu

    I would say that Microsoft falls into the group that still doesn't understand the iPad, as do most IT types. They still think that the goal is to make the tablet powerful enough so that one can "enjoy" the full power of the desktop on the tablet's smaller and more mobile form factor. The idea that a touch interface that does less can be more useful – and therefore more powerful – than a desktop interface is beyond their ken.

    This is why so many extremely intelligent, educated and savvy computer users are so baffled by the success of the tablet. They keep comparing the tablet to the desktop computer. But they should be comparing tablet to the task its intended to solve – Horace would say, the task it's hired to do. A screwdriver makes a terrible hammer, but it's very useful for its intended purpose. A tablet makes a terrible desktop computer, but it's very useful for its intended purpose. Until IT types stop trying to turn the tablet into a smaller version of their desktop PCs; until IT types stop focusing on how much a tablet does (or does not do) and start focusing on how WELL it does what it does, they will not be able to fathom the usefulness or the importance or the impending impact of the tablet form factor.

    • kevin

      And I think that's why everyone other than Apple is busy cluttering up their screens with widgets and other stuff.

      I think Apple studied the widget concept on an iPad and discarded it. After all, widgets have been on a Mac for a long time. But I could be wrong….

      • dchu220

        I believe that remnants of a widget directory were found in the original iPhone OS.

        People often say, my Android can do this and your iPhone can't. Very true. But do you really think that Apple didn't already think about it and didn't test it? And oh, by the way, you forgot your spare battery.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      Yeah, I-T types are like "when is iPad going to turn into a PC?" while the other 90% of us go "oh, it turns into an audio mixer!" and "it turns into a TV!" and "it turns into a Scrabble game!" and "it turns into a Web browser!" and "it turns into paints and canvas!" and "it turns into a book!" and so on times 300,000.

  • Al Roker Martyrs Brigade

    I'm not sure there's any such thing as a general skill at recognizing disruption. At least I don't possess that skill. But it has become increasingly obvious (to me and most of us here) that wave 3 of consumer computing was launched with the iPhone in 2007 (wave 1 being command line, and wave 2 being small-w windows with keyboards and mice as the primary input devices). This is an entirely new market just waiting to be ravaged. Apple dominates, Android is coming (by market share measures, if not profit measures). HP understands what it has to do and is starting to execute. Microsoft? Crickets chirping.

    Regarding HP: It can gain a definitive advantage over Android and Microsoft by offering a VERY limited product offering. I hear colleagues all the time asking around, what's the best Android phone this week? They always get a different answer. HP may have an advantage (in terms of profit) by offering a couple varieties of phone, a couple varieties of TouchPad, and that's it. That way, consumers will know that when they walk into Best Buy and get a TouchPad, it's the best WebOS tablet money can buy. That confidence will making it easier to convince them to spend.

  • vroddrew

    People in the tech industry tend to miss the significance of products like the iPad because their focus is on the wrong thing.

    Tech bloggers, and tech company executives, tend to focus on the Technology of a new product. What are the specifications? Can it run Flash? Does it have the latest dual-core cpu, etc.

    Business analysts tend to focus on the Commercial side of things. What is the marketshare? What strategic partnerships are in place?

    These factors are ultimately secondary to the MOST important: What I would call the "People" factor. How does this product change the lives of the people who buy it? Apple, and Steve Jobs, seem to understand this much better than anyone else in the industry. You see this not just in the design of Apple products, but in the way these products are priced, advertised, sold, and supported. Apple's product developers have the ability to step outside their own world, and imagine how a 5 year old child, or a 80 year old grandmother, are going to use their products. Neither Grandma nor little Timmy care, in the slightest degree, about "open-source operating systems" or "dual-core architecture."

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      That is great design. The person who uses the product is part of the Apple designs.

  • Andrew

    I recently completed work on a project for an international firm with close connections to the technology industry.

    Their network was based on Windows XP, but once they had got that working their biggest requirement was for iPad WiFi connectivity in their conference rooms.

    Seems that consultants, lawyers and businessmen rely on their iPads at their sides to keep up with email, Wikipedia and corporate info during meetings. I know I do.

  • Sergio

    The announcement that HP wants to push WebOS on PCs must have sent a few shock waves through Redmond. Oh the irony of Microsoft being pushed out of the last loyal PC manufacturer just as they try to get in partnership with a mobile manufacturer who never wanted them until now… I can imagine a company or two to which Today's wonderful Dilbert might be aimed….

    And I agree about the term 'media tablet.' As opposed to what? Non-media tablet?! It reminds me of the early 90s when PCs started to come with sound card and a CD drive and pundits started to call them 'multimedia computers', 'media centres' and other silly things.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      "Media tablet" is a made-up analyst term meant to hide the fact that iPad is a PC and save face in the PC market. The reality is that iPad is a mobile PC. It has a PC class screen, PC class operating system, PC class application platform, PC class Web browser and Web app platform, PC class media platform, and PC class connectivity. The fact that Windows and Intel are too fat to fit into a PC that small does not stop iPad from being a PC.

      Further, "media tablet" is used to perpetrate the myth that you can't make things on iPad, which is another tired defense-of-the-Wintel-PC that is the same as saying you can't make anything with your hands. Like typing into Microsoft Excel is the ultimate human creative effort, and like you can't pair a Bluetooth keyboard with iPad in about 5 seconds and install Numbers in about 5 more.

      Am I typing this on a PC or a media tablet? Surely you can tell? I mean, these are dramatically different devices.

  • off topic but congratulations on having your elegant charts reproduced in this week's economist

    • FalKirk

      Thanks for that, Paul. Horace, let me add my hearty congratulations too.

    • asymco

      I would have never found it because the attribution is not searchable. Oh well. Here it is:

      Not quite the same as my charts, but close.

  • kevin

    But when we start using it to pay for things in a few months, will they call it a "money tablet"?

  • WaltFrench

    Maybe to distinguish it from the Windows XP tablets, which were for taking notes, apparently, maybe a PDF now and then. Try-to-get-the-stylus-to-work tablets.

  • Kizedek

    Business and high end?

    The only good things I keep hearing are about how great XBox is doing (?) and how wonderful Kinect is, and what a fun place MarketPlace is and how cool it is that MS is all about HD media and BlueRay, and how no-one yet understands the completely revolutionary Zune interface going into Windows Phone 7…

    I declare, the nerdy, once great business powerhouse is the new Social and Recreation genius. Obviously, MS missed it's real vocation all these years!

    And, to think, they always criticised Apple for its "toy" computers?

  • I look forward to the day that HP is forced to change the name of this device due to infringing on Apple's iPad and iPod Touch trademarks. Then I look forward to the day

  • kevin

    BGR reporting that rumored price is $699 and launch at end of June. I assume that's for entry level 16GB version.

    For the consumer, that costs too much, comes too late.

  • CndnRschr

    HP has fallen into the trap of simultaneously creating an ecosystem (as has RIM). The bump to communicate feature for HPPre phones. Is great if they expect to sell to Pre owners but that is a rather limited market. Instead, that feature is simply not compelling to the majority of people. The iPad works as well if you are a Pre owner, a PC owner or whatever owner. That is the market.

    HP may have lost it’s mojo but at least they haven’t lost their dignity and ability to self determine their fate.

  • Pingback: The (iPod)Touch(i)Pad | asymco()

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