The HP TouchPad Example: Why Non-iPad Tablets Aren’t Great Yet

Harry McCracken:

Is there anything about the TouchPad that flirts with providing an argument for buying it over the iPad?

Well, it’s not the hardware or the app selection. But WebOS’s user interface remains excellent; preferring it to the iPad is entirely rational. But HP just lost the opportunity to come out with a generally pleasing WebOS tablet well before Apple starts selling iOS 5 iPads and other companies have Android Ice Cream Sandwich ones.

So it’s heavier and buggier than the iPad, and has a lackluster app library. McCracken also mentions “Motorola’s Xoom and BlackBerry’s PlayBook, both of which shipped with glitchy software.”

All these tablets no doubt look good, but when it comes down to actually using them? Sub-par experiences by many accounts. Sure, UI is important, but style without substance does not a good tablet make. Apple products may be maligned for placing a premium on style, but they also provide function. Even if not straight away, they do so eventually. The key is capturing your audience with the experience.

With the original iPhone, even though Apple stripped away most non-essential features (which would be added later), they made sure that the experience was engaging. Simply using the phone was fun. And once they had people loving their phones, they began to incrementally introduce features, slowly chipping away at users’ wishlists. And the iPad benefitted from everything that Apple had learned with the iPhone; the experience was just as engaging.

The main difference that strikes me between the iPad and other tablets is always the actual use of the tablet. People complain about buggy software because no matter how gorgeous a tablet looks, if using it pisses you off, it ain’t gonna last long no matter how many features it has.

More competition is always good for us consumers. Will there eventually be a tablet that can stand up to the iPad? Perhaps, given enough time. But whilst the competition tries to catch up, Apple definitely won’t sit around doing nothing.



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