HP CEO: With iPad, Apple could pass us in 2012 (and we might go Android)

Meg Whitman, 55, a former eBay CEO and the president and chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard since September 2011, has no doubt in her mind that Apple stands a chance of zooming past Hewlett-Packard, the world’s leading computer vendor, some time during next year.

Whitman’s appraisal of Apple assumes, of course, that one considers tablets, such as Apple’s iPad, personal computers.

Commenting on a recent Canalys survey that first predicted Apple’s likely takeover of Hewlett-Packard with a little help from the yet unreleased iPad 3, Whitman told French newspaper Le Figaro (machine translated):

Yes. I think it’s possible if you integrate tablets. Apple does a great job. We need to improve our game and our products to take over the leadership position. Apple could go past HP in 2012. We will try to become the champion in 2013. It takes time for the products on which I have come to influence the market.

Hewlett-Packard is the world’s leading computer vendor, operating in nearly every country. More interesting than that, Whitman said her company will reach a decision soon on the fate of the webOS mobile operating system, which has remained in turmoil after HP indicated it might sell of that asset. She reassured Hewlett-Packard fans that her company is open to all options and nodded at Android as one of the choices being considered.

According to TechCrunch, she said:
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PC head Todd Bradley tells Reuters HP could resurrect the TouchPad

You surely recall how computer maker Hewlett-Packard announced earlier this month it would exit the low-margin PC business, stop selling smartphones and tablets and sell out or license the webOS operating business. Well, less than two weeks later HP’s PC chief Todd Bradley tells Reuters that the TouchPad could make a come back:

Bradley said the company could resurrect HP’s short-lived TouchPad tablet computer, which was introduced on July 1 before being terminated only about six weeks later. ‘Tablet computing is a segment of the market that’s relevant, absolutely,’ Bradley said.

We’re not sure quite what to think of it. Was the whole “we’re killing the TouchPad” thing just a marketing ploy? Perhaps the news that Samsung wants to become the next HP and whispers that they are “considering purchasing webOS” prompted top dogs at Hewlett-Packard to second-guess CEO’s decision to focus on software and services instead on cool gadgets? Why else would Bradley tell Reuters that selling the PC division to a rival like Acer or Lenovo is “not a desirable alternative”?

Perhaps as interesting, HP claims to plan on building more TouchPads, they reported today.

Is $99 the new $499?  Well, no.  A tier one company can’t make anything close to the TouchPad and hope to break even at $99 yet.   But if anything, the $499 TouchPad that was plagued with a sell-through rate of just ten percent versus the $99 TouchPad that is seemingly flying off the shelves reinforces the notion that price matters in this game – perhaps more than any other feature. Consumers clearly appreciated iPad’s aggressive $499 price point. For a gadget you could do without in your life, price remains the crucial factor. For example…

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Analyst: Apple to sell 22 Million iPads in 4th Quarter

Another day, another analyst making bold predictions about Apple. Though this time it’s the usually accurate Jason Schwarz. In a post on SeekingAlpha.com (via Forbes) Schwarz writes:

“With the era of the laptop coming to an end how should we extrapolate Apple’s recent quarter of 9.25 million iPads into the holiday quarter? It’s logical to assume that the iPad will mirror the growth that the iPhone experienced in 2010 as it grew from 8.4 million units sold in Q2 to 16.2 million in Q4, 92% growth. We also take into consideration the 183% year over year growth that the iPad experienced in its most recent quarter to come up with a forecast of 21.9 million iPads to be sold in this year’s holiday quarter.”

2011 has been a difficult year for Apple’s tablet competitors. HP recently halted production of their WebOS powered TouchPad device after only three months on the market (though it has been selling well at $99). Blackberry’s new PlayBook has been panned by many reviews. Android manufacturers have been sued by Apple for violating many of their software patents. Even laptop manufacturers are starting to feel the pain of the increasingly popular and powerful tablet. Traditionally the holiday quarter has always been the strongest for Apple. Furthermore, we would be remiss to leave out the very unlikely possibility of a rumored iPad holiday refresh. Such an event, though unlikely, could help push these numbers into the stratosphere.

It’s pretty amazing to see how far the iPad has come in such a short period of time. Starting out for many as “just a big iPod touch”, the device has matured and found a place in millions of homes throughout the world. The iPad has played a major role in defining and boosting the stagnant tablet market. Could it help boost that market beyond laptops in 2012? 22 million sales for the holiday quarter would certainly be a good start.

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iPad 2 runs webOS twice as fast as the TouchPad, internal HP testing revealed

Hewlett-Packard engineers did dare pull unthinkable: They hacked iPad to install webOS only to find out Apple’s hardware runs their mobile operating system more than twice as fast compared to their own TouchPad hardware, a source “close to the subject” told The Next Web. The finding had devastating effects on the team’s morale:

The hardware reportedly stopped the team from innovating beyond certain points because it was slow and imposed constraints, which was highlighted when webOS was loaded on to Apple’s iPad device and found to run the platform significantly faster than the device for which it was originally developed.

It should be pointed out that webOS  runs on Qualcomm ARM chips while iPad 2 runs on Samsung silicon. This little nugget is even more revealing:

With a focus on web technologies, webOS could be deployed in the iPad’s Mobile Safari browser as a web-app; this produced similar results, with it running many times faster in the browser than it did on the TouchPad.

In fact, the webOS team wanted HP’s TouchPad and Pre hardware “gone” even before the products hit the marketplace according to TNW.  With a hardware refresh a year off and similar issues with the Pre phones, this could have contributed to the decision to shutter the webOS and perhaps license it out to other companies (with better hardware).

In a separate report, TNW details how the news was broken to the webOS group within HP.

Almost everyone at HP found out about the death of the TouchPad and Pre hardware as the public did, in the press release. Only the top executives knew anything about this decision and even senior staff as high as Ari Jaaksi, the Vice President of webOS software, didn’t know about the shuttering of hardware before it happened.

After the press release came out, there was a company wide meeting filled with a bunch of ‘corporate speak’, in which staff were told that they were going to be in limbo for 3-4 weeks.

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HP TouchPad gets a showing off

So HP(alm)’s TouchPad is about as close to an iPad as you can get without giving Apple any money (exact same sized display/form factor, etc).  HP, beyond the original demo, hasn’t shown much about the product.  However, at Sandisk’s booth (who are supplying the Touchpad’s storage), they were giving out full demos:

I can’t imagine this demo will stay live long but enjoy it while you can and just wonder how it’s “Card-based” OS will compare to an iPad 2 running iOS 5. Read more

HP's PalmPad tablet leaked before CES

Well, they have to be doing something over at HP with that $1B acquisition.  According to FoxNews, they are going to announce a (gasp) tablet…

HP will introduce three models of the PalmPad at CES, with minor hardware differences distinguishing them. All three will run a new iteration of the WebOS operating system, version 2.5.1; they’re collectively a spin-off of the never-released HP Slate. A fourth version won’t be shown off at CES, I’m told, but it will be custom made for university students to prove how versatile the machines can be.The consumer version of the PalmPad will run on Sprint’s fast 4G network, but otherwise it has hardware specs nearly identical to Apple’s iPad. There are minor differences, of course: It has a mini HDMI port, for example, while the iPad requires a special dongle for video output. And there are front- and rear-facing cameras (1.3 megapixel and 3 megapixel, respectively), both with LED flashes.The PalmPad is slightly thinner than the iPad with rounded edges closer to the Amazon Kindle. At 1.25 lbs, the PalmPad also sports a USB 3.0 port and a “multi-switch” just like the one on the Palm Pre.

I can’t wait to take advantage of the front facing flash camera. Read more