In quick succession, HP and Microsoft reportedly killed off two iPad wannabes this week. With HP's purchase of Palm and its WebOS, it meant that the Windows 7 tablet that Steve Ballmer showed off at CES in January (and which you can see here in this video ) is suddenly shelfware. Meanwhile Microsoft, which has been leaking teasing videos of a so-called Courier Tablet dual-screen digital journal , announced that it had no plans to build the device at this time, leaving some (like me) wondering if they ever intended to build it all.
Two weeks ago I wrote a post called Five Ways iPad Wanabees Can Compete . What's interesting is that these two tablet devices could have (possibly) been real competition for the iPad based on my criteria. Yet HP and Microsoft, two companies that certainly have the money and the clout to compete with Apple, quit before they even started. The question is: Why?
HP, Palm and Leaving Microsoft Behind
The answer, for HP at least, had to do with the other big news from HP this week, namely its purchase of Palm , and with it, its WebOS. The move gives HP its own mobile OS, freeing it from the clutches of its rival Microsoft and enabling it to build its own line of devices running Palm's mobile operating system. HP wasted no time killing the Windows tablet, canceling the project just one day after the Palm purchase. Chances are, however, that down the road, we will see it magically rise from the dead with its new new Palm operating system
Microsoft Cancels Another Vaporware Project
As for Microsoft, who knows if the project ever really had legs from the get-go. It released the video earlier this year when iPad hype and speculation was peaking. Maybe it was Redmond's way of saying, "Look at us! Look at us! We have a cool tablet on the drawing board too!" The device always had a distinctly 90s pen computing feel to it to me, which made it hard for me to take seriously.
Regardless, Microsoft put its potential pad out to pasture, while its partner's project got shoved in the backroom never to see the light of day. It had to be disappointing for Microsoft to see a long-time partner like HP head off on its own like this, but other companies such as Dell and Asus have announced Windows 7 tablets that we should be seeing before the year is out (assuming they don't get suddenly canceled too).
For a while though, it looked like the tablet flood gates would fly open this quarter, hot on the heels of Apple's successful iPad launch in April. But for this week, two possible iPad competitors bit the dust before they ever got out the door and left gadget fan boys everywhere just a little bit sad because of it.
Photo by Bettyx1138 on Flickr. Used under the Creative Commons License.