Do the HP & RIM Tablet Failures Impact on Windows 8?

Considering the failure of HP’s WebOS powered TouchPad, and RIM’s Blackberry tablet, one could consider that there is no space for other contenders behind Apple’s iPad and Google’s Android OS.  I’m not sure that I agree.

The executives of HP and RIM were naive at best, and plain stupid at worst.

RIM’s tablet could do basic functions like email and calendar without being paired with a Blackberry phone.  That shrunk the market radically.  Version 2 would be better was the promise, then why the hell did you release version 1?  I listened to The Guardian’s Tech Weekly webcast last week and a RIM executive was being hammered by a fairly mild journalist.  Even RIM’s employees are rebelling against the morons who are drunkenly steering that ship.

Then over in HP land we have a who other class of maroon.  HP went and bought WebOS, the successor to PalmOS and declared to the world that it would be their tablet and phone OS.  Hello?  Is anyone there in 1996?  Is the Macarena still number 1 in the music charts back there?  WebOS went on “sale” and it turns out that no one wanted it.  The Pre3 phone was unwanted by any of the networks, and went on sale this week in Europe with no announcements.  Sales were so bad that HP terminated WebOS operations last night.

Where did it go wrong?  Both HP and RIM were convinced that they could use their corporate and government market penetration to drive huge sales.  There’s 2 issues with that.

Consumerisation of IT

The IT department is not driving the sale of tablets in the business.  IT admins hate supporting them because they don’t fit in with anything.  The end consumer is driving the use of the iPad at work; they want something friendly, light, and an experience that they can share with their friends/family.  Some stodgy business tool is not in their buying plans.

Applications

Imagine you bought a PC and could not run any applications.  How would doing business with Notepad work for you?  Not well, I’d expect.  But HP and RIM expected you to use their platforms with no app ecosystem.  They didn’t encourage an app developer community.  That impacts things generally.  But let’s dig deeper.

Are Microsoft Discouraged?

Hell no!  If anything, this proves something:  if the business is going to embrace tablet technology then they want an application platform, and they want it to be hardware agnostic.  If I develop and use some app on a Toshiba tablet, I want to make sure that my colleague in Paris that has a Sony tablet can work with me.  If I use a Toshiba OS and they use a Sony OS, then we cannot collaborate.  Sure there’s “the cloud” and web based apps, but we no that things aren’t really that simple; they should be but they aren’t.  And the PC isn’t dead; I sure don’t want to use a tablet 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.  If I run a PC then I also want to use the same apps.

Windows 8 accomplishes this.  It will be hardware manufacturer agnostic.  It will give us the same HTML5 and Javascript OS platform across laptop, PC, tablet, and even netbook.  Wave 15 (Office and SharePoint vNext) even will support HTML5 and Javascript.

I think (this morning) that true tablet PCs will go through an evolution process.  Evolution looks unkindly at specialists.  When the environment changes, the specialist dies out.  Windows is like a fox; it is a true generalist, found almost everywhere, always able to adapt because it runs on so many vendors hardware and platforms, and suits the needs of so many.

RIM’s and HP’s tablets were true evolutionary mistakes.  What I do find surprising it that the executives or designers of either corporation were deluded, drunk or stoned enough to think that either of these tablets had a snowball’s chance in hell to succeed.  If I was a shareholder, I’d be considering suing them for negligence and demanding my money back.

EDIT:

I should have wrapped this up.  I believe that if Microsoft doesn’t screw up Windows 8 on ARM, in other words, if it is good enough to keep users happy, then it’s manageability and it’s shared application platform with the PC will make it the winner in the business that HP and RIM desired and failed to achieve with their Dodos.

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