No words could have expressed the disappointment I felt with HP's decision to axe webOS.
In a market dominated by Apple iOS and Google Android, webOS was suppose to bring a fresh perspective to the tablet scene. Though Palm wasn't successful in propagating the platform further, hopes were running high when HP acquired Palm for US$1.2 billion. Various plans were explored by HP, with its CEO Leo Apotheker proclaiming the company's plans to include webOS within their PCs, alongside the Microsoft Windows environment.
Unfortunately, it was also Apotheker who made the decision to cut webOS down before its prime. Citing insufficient "traction in the marketplace" as one of the main reasons, the HP TouchPad and its accompanying webOS platform caved to the pressure of a saturated tablet market.
But that doesn't signal the absolute demise of HP's first (and only) webOS 3.0 tablet. As of now, HP is in the midst of clearing its current TouchPad stock through a fire sale.
We've also had confirmation from HP Singapore that the TouchPad will be selling at Comex 2011. While the pricing details will only be announced on 31st August, it's highly likely that a similar price revision will be made for the Singapore market.
So here's the thing to consider: should you buy the TouchPad if it's selling somewhere near US$99 for the 16GB Wi-Fi version? I would, for the following reasons:
1. From my earlier hands-on with webOS, its user interface grew on me, and it's a departure from the usual stuff you see on iOS or Android Honeycomb.
2. Even without future support for its webOS platform, the TouchPad is still quite capable as a web browser and movie player with its dual-core 1.2GHz processor and 9.7-inch display.
3. While we aren't sure if the TouchStone Charging Dock will get a similar price revision, the thought of just placing a tablet on a dock without the need to plug a wire into it makes it all worthwhile. Admittedly, I find it a chore to reach for the cable and plug it into my iPad.
4. Should the price be drastically reduced, it makes for a great gift for your family members or loved ones without burning a sizable hole in your wallet.
5. For the advanced users, there's also the option to install Ubuntu on the TouchPad. Honestly, I won't be surprised if someone figured out a way to install Android Honeycomb onto the TouchPad.
Though the above reasons are quite compelling for you to purchase the TouchPad, there's one very important factor to consider: apps. With the discontinuation of webOS hardware by HP, the apps ecosystem will most likely falter.
As it is, the HP App Catalog, at 8,000 apps strong, isn't exactly able to match up to the numbers from iOS or Android. Even now, Microsoft claims that more than 500 webOS developers have expressed their interest to develop for Windows Phone 7.
As such, if you consider apps variety as a top priority in your purchasing decision, the TouchPad is a no-go. Otherwise, if you just wish to fulfill the geek quota and tinker with webOS on the HP TouchPad, put a calendar reminder on 31st August, when HP announces its prices for the webOS tablet.
Edit: As our reader maxbg996 has pointed out, HP is halting webOS operations related to its hardware. There is still the possibility of HP licensing webOS to other manufacturers.
Seow Tein Hee / Former Associate Editor
Attuned to the latest mobile technology and news, Tein Hee is always on the lookout for innovation and creativity in the mobile industry.