The world of smartphones is both overpopulated and fiercely competitive. We have seen various platforms fail quite spectacularly while others have risen to incredible heights. That same market is happy to let smartphone operating systems like Symbian fall to the wayside and cheers in jubilation as Apple’s iOS dominates the scene.
With Android and Windows Phone 7 clearly making a splash on the mobile front (one more than the other), it is becoming increasingly obvious that the mobile OS ecosystem is approaching over-saturation, and in such a highly populated market it is very easy to get left behind.
HP acquired Palm back in 2010 (a long time in the tech world) and they are hell-bent on not letting WebOS be ignored in such a hyper-competitive landscape. At their ‘Think Beyond’ event in February, HP introduced an aggressive new strategy to be implemented this year involving a whole lot of new hardware. Their goal seems to be to create the kind of ecosystem that Apple has been enjoying with the iPhone, iPad and MacBooks, especially with their new slogan ‘everybody on’.
HP is ready to launch three new products that are set to create a brand new reputation for the Palm brand, or rather what they left behind. We’ve got two new smartphones to look at, the Veer and the Pre 3, one tiny and one full-sized respectively. Then there is the obligatory, but no less exciting addition of a WebOS based tablet, with the incredibly creative name of TouchPad (read: sarcasm).
The Veer is clearly marketed at the consumer that wants all of the benefits of a smartphone, but doesn’t care about screen size (the Veer has a 2.6 incher) and has really small fingers. The general consensus with this one is that it is too small for human use, but I know a lot of people who want all the functionality of a smartphone without the extra bulk that comes along with it and for them, the Veer is perfect. It has enough guts to handle simpler tasks with ease, more than enough for less demanding users.
On the other hand, we have the Pre 3 sporting a 3.58 inch screen and a faster processor than the pint-sized Veer. For power-users, this is going to be the WebOS for you. I am extremely happy to see the Pre brand be updated with better build quality and a competitive size factor. One of my main quarrels with the original Pre and its subsequent refreshes was the lack of choice given to the consumer, you could either accept a smaller screen or move on. The Pre 3 answers my desperate pleas for some extra screen real estate in the Pre family.
HP’s TouchPad is already being hailed as real competition to the iPad and will be the only WebOS device that will be launched with the newest version of the mobile OS (3.0). The Pre 3 and the Veer will reportedly ship with version 2.2, sadly. The previews of the TouchPad have been pretty positive so far, with the only criticisms stemming from the slight underperformance of the not-quite-finished software. Although, the performance of pre-release hardware is never reliable, and HP is banking too much on this release to let anything slip by. I am just glad they went with a 9.7 inch screen, no more of this 7 inch nonsense!
All the devices are slated for a Spring/Summer release, but no details have been nailed down yet. What we do know is that the Veer will be coming out first to fulfill the public’s craving for a pocket-size smartphone. Let the waiting begin.