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HP Kills the TouchPad, Proves the iPad is Just a Toy

Since the day the iPad was announced, I’ve told you that there was nothing special about it. Oh sure, it looks great, but I’ll say now as I said then: the iPad isn’t really anything more than a huge iPod Touch.

Don’t get me wrong: I may hate the way Apple does business, but they put out some great looking, easy to use products. In fact, that description applies to pretty much everything the monster from Cupertino has ever produced. And as I’ve told you, while I now mostly listen to music using my Droid, when I buy an MP3 player it’s always an iPod.

And now that Hewlett Packard has bowed out of the tablet market, dropping their previously-$500 TouchPad to just $100 to liquidate inventory, we have the proof: Nobody actually loves the iPad enough to make it “matter” to anyone but Appleholics.

Apple, of course, probably sees it differently: Hewlett Packard must be admitting that they can’t get people to buy enough TouchPads to challenge the iPad for supremacy in the tablet market. And that’s true. But only because the price was too high. At the right price, people will happily buy a tablet other than an iPad.

This matters. It’s one of those business-change-right-in-front-of-your-eyes-that-you-might-have-missed issues.

This is a Tool vs. Toy conversation.

I see tablet computers as tools. Presumably, all those people who went out and scored a $100 Hewlett Packard TouchPad see this the same way; if you want a TOY, and can afford it, you pay what the toy costs. Would you buy a GI Jerry with Feng Shui Grip because it was “close enough” to GI Joe with Kung Fu Grip? Of course not.

But when the toy becomes a TOOL your criteria change. Maybe at $100 you can make a tool out of this thing that Apple and the iPad had previously convinced you was just a toy—and if the tool turns out to be unworthy of the task you had in mind at least you didn’t blow $500 on something that’s just going to gather dust.

The business change that matters is this: the HP TouchPad fire sale has proven that tablets can be tools. The question is whether Apple is going to respond in a way that finally makes the iPad something other than a toy.

8 Comments

  1. Just ran across this. My take on the situation was exactly the opposite. A good tablet is certainly a tool, and the iPad is a good tablet. People bought the TouchPad in droves at $100 not because that’s the “right” price for a tool but because that’s the point at which the TouchPad became an impulse buy. A toy.

    • I won’t argue, Greg; perception truly is reality!

      I happen to part of a family where my PC and Android leanings put me squarely in the minority. There are iPhones and iPads all around me. I love the FEEL of the iPad, but I find it difficult to use for anything other than media consumption. Does that make it a flawed tool or a great toy? Dunno.

      • Hey you can’t even use iphones or ipads for media consumption they don’t even support adobe flash player which is what a lions share of media on the web runs on :P hahah

      • Gordon, I’m with you.I actually pointed this out way early in the iPad days, and picked on iOS in general for the same reason, here.

        The irony is that FLASH is now starting to go away. It’ll be a while before that happens, but it’s being replaced by better technologies, like HTML5. I’ve even uninstalled FLASH from my Galaxy Nexus (since I started using the Chrome browser on it and Mobile Chrome doesn’t support FLASH, either).

        Where this has really come home for me, though, is that my girlfriend uses an iPad, usually laughs at me for caring about the way Apple has positioned itself on issues like this, but has recently come to realize just how much she misses FLASH. She even used the words “this thing is a nice toy” the other days in connection with the problem.

        Funny: the problems that those of us who are geeky enough to discuss have stopped bothering us and started bothering the people who used to laugh at us.

        And yeah . . . The iPad is still just an expensive toy.

  2. Don’t remove this post. It is becoming one of those posts which history loves for its sheer wrongheadedness.

    • Nicolas, I won’t be removing it, and as you can see I’ve approved your comment.

      You might like to look back at the previous comment though, speaking of different head spaces. Greg thought I was wrong, too, but he expressed himself less like a fanboy and more like someone with an opinion.

      Thanks for taking the time!

  3. Jeff–Maybe it is just you…maybe the iPad is not a good fit for YOU, but maybe it works fine for many of us at home and in the office. The fact that it doesn’t do much for you doesn’t make it a toy or even an oversized iPod Touch. I think you made a bad call–move on!

    • Thanks Robert. Like I said in my “family” response to Greg, above, I think the iPad has a place. And if we define “tool” a little differently than my hard-nosed approach, it fits there, too.

      But move on? No man. We’re seeing more and more people who are willing to jump in to tablet land as the other guys lower their prices. Not because they “need” it (tool) but because they’re hoping it will do something useful and are willing to take a flyer—tool OR toy—for less money.

      And please: remember that the iPad doesn’t do Flash, and Flash might be on the way out but it’s still very much with us.

      Toy. So far.

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