The reviews for the HP TouchPad are in and if you're like me, you've been reading every one you can get your hands on. And there are plenty of them. That's not all that dominated the web last week though. A few RIM employees sent anonymous letters to Boy Genius Report, stating their thoughts and concerns about the future of the company. We also heard about HP licensing webOS for other manufacturers to use and Google announced their new stab at social networking called Google+. All of these topics were discussed in this week's PhoneDog Live and you can watch the video to listen to our full discussion. In this recap article, we'll focus on the TouchPad and the future of RIM.
It's no secret that RIM is struggling, despite what the company says in published statements. RIM is simply behind the curve and desperately needs to catch up. We all had our ideas on what went wrong in the first place. These letters simply confirm those suspicions.
In one such letter, the employee said that they are simply working on too many pointless projects and are, as a result, way behind schedule which forces them to rush to release a product before it's complete, an idea that makes me question the business intelligence of a company that would do that. The writer was frank, saying "BlackBerry smartphone apps suck", calling their admittedly boring and confusing marketing "lazy", and pointing out that their "overconfidence cloud[ed] good decision-making" resulting in the company being 3-4 years behind Apple and Google.
RIM responded by basically saying that 1) they don't believe the letters are even from real employees, and 2) the company is fine. Ironically, these statements only confirm the concerns of the employees. There is a huge problem and RIM seems to be ignoring it.
It should be noted that the legitimacy of these letters has been questioned by more than one person. Still, that doesn't change the fact that RIM has been too stubborn for too long and is now reaping the consequences. They refused to change, a noble stance in some ways, but a foolish one in others. Hindsight is 20/20, true, but that doesn't mean that foresight is 20/200. Maybe in January 2007, when Apple first announced the iPhone, it seemed like an asinine endeavor, but it should have taken only 6 months to a year to recognize that Apple was on to something. The fact that RIM is just now releasing touchscreen devices with 1 GHz processors (something the competition has been using for over a year) is laughable at the very least.
That's only one heated debate though. Another topic that brings loyalists to the fore is tablets. The HP TouchPad became available July 1st and reviews have been pouring in all week. It's not all bad, though that depends on which site published the review. Most say the software is great but that the hardware needs some help. webOS has a small fan base but has earned respect in the tech world for being elegant, simple, and intuitive. webOS 3.0, the version that ships with the TouchPad, brings those same great elements. The hardware, however, is a different story. Apparently, the TouchPad is quite bulky, a little on the heavy side, and a serious fingerprint magnet. Those things may be easy to ignore but the other hardware problems are not. Despite shipping with a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, reviewers consistently said the tablet was laggy, buggy, and generally slow. Though most described it as a decent tablet, the majority said they'd have a hard time recommending it over the iPad. I'm thinking maybe the second generation model may be better.
HP has openly acknowledged that the TouchPad was not meant to compete with the iPad but was instead more of an enterprise device, which is the impression I got from the start. The TouchPad has no rear-facing camera, no YouTube app, no HP media app or store of any kind for music or movies, there's only 300 TouchPad-specific apps currently in the market, and most of the standout features are business- or communication-oriented anyway. Still, some people enjoy the seemingly "grown-up" nature of the OS. There's no "cartoonish" widgets or pages of apps. The OS seems made more for getting things done, not finding something to do when you're bored. It may not be an iPad-killer but it doesn't need to be in order to be successful.
If you'd like to watch the next episode of PhoneDog Live, we'll be broadcasting every Friday at 5 p.m. ET from our Ustream channel. You can watch it directly from Ustream or from our Facebook page. This week's show is available to watch on our YouTube channel.