While the big news this week was undoubtedly the HP purchase of Palm, two other news items may impact the mobile technology scene down the road. They may be related to the HP/ Palm merger, too. Microsoft has been teasing us with concept videos of the innovative Courier product, a dual-screen touch “journal” that is connected to the web and based on a new OS optimized for the device. Word came this week that Microsoft has canceled the Courier project, which is strange as it was never acknowledged by Redmond as really exisiting. Then today HP has reportedly canceled the Slate product, a Windows 7 tablet that was shown by Steve Ballmer at the CES this year.
The cancelation of the Courier “concept” project, confirmed by Microsoft, is a shame. This device showed the potential of being the most innovative thing to come out of Redmond in years. While the usage scenario depicted in leaked videos was narrow, I do believe with a little attention the Courier could have evolved into a game-changing mobile device. It’s too bad that will never happen, although I’m sure Microsoft will make use of the technology the project exposed in other products. One can hope, anyway.
The news that HP is canceling the HP Slate is surprising, and it may not be accurate. The Slate is a real product, demonstrated by both Microsoft and HP on several occasions, and HP has stated the product would be released. It’s not a concept or a pilot program, the Slate is a real product that was scheduled for release. There is some speculation that HP’s purchase of Palm has led to this product cancelation, as HP has implied they will be putting the webOS on a range of products including tablets. This may very well be, but I hope HP does it right if so.
I’ve made it clear that to produce a good tablet, companies must pay attention to details other than the form factor. It is essential that a touch tablet be based on an OS that is built for such usage from the ground up, and webOS certainly meets that requirement. I do believe HP can make a killer tablet based on webOS, but not with a simple conversion of the HP Slate from Windows 7 to webOS. The Slate is a clunky, thick and heavy tablet, which will not work with consumers. I hope HP produces a thin, light tablet that is optimized for webOS through and through. That would be a killer product.
Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):