Hewlett-Packard will reportedly offer both a music service and movie store for its upcoming TouchPad tablet, due out within the next few months. The information comes from a slide-show presentation sent to a PreCentral reader, who shared it with the enthusiast site. A screen mockup shows a music store with streaming Internet radio stations, while the presentation mentions a hybrid music streaming service that leverages both local device storage and music files available on web servers, much like Amazon’s new Cloud Drive and Cloud Player services.
One key difference between HP’s planned service and the one Amazon currently offers: The HP solution may be more intelligent. Instead of requiring a user to manage which media files are local and which are stored online for streaming purposes, the HP presentation mentions a “smart algorithm” to assist in music management. Such a program would determine which songs are most likely to be listened to — presumably based on personalized historical listening trends — and make sure those tracks are kept on the device for instant playback.
With a media ecosystem, HP will try to avoid some of the challenges Palm faced with its original webOS handsets. Specifically, there was little third-party support for apps and services for the fledgling webOS phones when they arrived in June 2009. The addition of a media ecosystem could make the TouchPad, and webOS handsets, more comparable to devices from Apple, since the iTunes ecosystem support is a key feature that helps sell iOS devices. However, as I argued just last week, more media stores that are device- or brand-specific could further fragment the consumer media experience.
To loosely borrow a quote from my youth, and to modernize it for today’s mobile market:,”I want my MTV, and I want it wherever I am and on whatever device I’m using at the time!” Based on early looks at the HP TouchPad, the device software looks fantastic. If HP can supplement the user experience with portable media for enjoyment on the go, the tablet could yet surprise many.