Will HP Be the Death of Apple?

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Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) wants to be the next Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) so badly, it can trademark it.

HP is requesting a trademark for the name Palmpad, according to PC World. The move comes just as an entry for a Slate 500 tablet has been spotted on HP's website.

The rub here is that the Slate 500 is listed as a portable gadget backed by Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Windows 7 operating system. Wasn't HP going to sidestep Windows and Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android to put all of its muscle behind Palm's webOS to power its tablet line?

Well, don't be surprised if the Slate comes out in all three flavors. Even if means competing with nearly everybody else that will be putting out Windows and Android tablets over the next few quarters, it's better than putting all of its eggs in the Palm webOS basket.

Attacking Apple's iOS from all sides appears to be the best approach. The worst thing that HP could have done was make a complete commitment to webOS as its lone bullet in the tablet space. If it flops, HP would have wasted a year.

We can't forget that Palm's webOS flopped in smartphones, leading to the fire sale of the company itself -- before Android left a mark.

The specs on HP's Slate are impressive. It also features two cameras for shooting stills and video, a move that Research In Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) rumored tablet is also counting on to stand out against Apple's iPad.

Apple surprisingly left out any kind of camera on its iPad, likely saving it for next year's update. As long as the Slate's rich specs aren't a battery hog or drive prices too high, adding a camera or two is the right approach. Companies can't beat Apple on style or its premium brand, so they may as well try to stand out with a product that is superior because it does more.

This may not seem like a very crowded market right now, but it will shortly. Even Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) has revealed that it's working with Google on a tablet. Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) promises to be a player, too -- though it's apparently going smaller with its Streak. If you thought the smartphone and laptop markets are competitive, just imagine what the tablet space will be like once smartphone and laptop makers are in the water.

HP will be there, splashing at Apple from all sides.

Can HP stand a shot against Apple's iPad? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor choice. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services, free for 30 days.  

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is loving his iPad, but he's not totally against picking up a rival tablet if it's up to snuff. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (2)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 21, 2010, at 2:43 PM, aggiewes wrote:

    HP was my first ever stock investment, I love the brand. I think that this is the smartest thing they could do to compete with Apple. Having three different software products can give them a niche with customers that apple will not have, and if the price is lower than that of the Ipad you can believe that these products are going to keep Steve Jobs up at night. By eating into Ipad sales this holiday season.

  • Report this Comment On July 21, 2010, at 4:42 PM, makelvin wrote:

    To the contrary to your article's argument, I believe the HP's reluctance to commit themselves to a single OS for their tablet will be the death of the billion dollar investment of webOS. By showing developers that HP is really not willing to commit themselves to webOS, why should any developers spend time and money to develop software for that platform? Without developer's support, webOS is doomed to fail.

    At the end, they will have spend over a billion dollar with nothing to show for and end up continuing to rely on Microsoft Windows to compete in the mobile space. So far things are not looking all that promising with Microsoft Windows in the tablet space. But lets assume that Windows does become competitive in the tablet space sometimes in the future; how does that make HP stand out from the crowd with the likes of Dell, Lenovo, Acers and hundreds of other PC manufacturers that will be licensing Windows for their version of tablet?

    So I believe HP's non-committal action toward their newly acquired webOS will be the death of HP's tablet opportunity.

  • Report this Comment On July 21, 2010, at 5:03 PM, frankz00 wrote:

    You nerds are really getting silly now. HP has ZERO CHANCE of dethroning Apple. They have to learn how to market first.

    THEN they have to come out with a product. Have you SEEN their digital cameras and mp3 players (besides the rebranded iPod)?!?! They're ALL horrible!

  • Report this Comment On July 21, 2010, at 8:35 PM, drrjv wrote:

    Sounds like HP doesn't know what to do so they're doing everything, which is sure to create a mess. I'm sure Apple is shaking in their boots now!

  • Report this Comment On July 22, 2010, at 10:33 AM, samkass wrote:

    All these tablets are going to start shipping in the next 3-9 months. For most of their lifetime, they will be competing with iPad 2 (or whatever Apple calls next year's model... iPad HD?) I'll bet dollars to donuts that it has a front-facing camera. Also, the iPad will also be getting iOS 4.x this fall, so the introductions of the devices will be competing for press with the next release of the iPad's operating system.

    It's not impossible that some of these could catch on in business where Windows tablets have failed to over the last decade. But it kind of seems like "more of the same" from the competitors for now. At some point they're going to learn that a spec sheet checklist doesn't sell mass product.

  • Report this Comment On July 22, 2010, at 3:55 PM, will750 wrote:

    Windows 7 tablets will not succeed...there is a clear track record of failure of windows tablets to support this. This is also the reason Goog has chosen to use android vs. chrome for tablets and why HP has chosen to use web os. The tablet in the form of the iPad is a mobile platform, whereas the Win 7 slate is a substitute for the laptop. The power hungry processors, high cost, poor battery life and slow performance of a windows tablet is why it is a poor alternative to the iPad for media and conversely is a poor alternative to a laptop in terms of productivity.

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