HP recently announced some major reshuffling with Jon Rubinstein now in charge of PSG global and HP’s Steven DeWitt assuming the lead role of HP’s webOS global business unit. Engadget managed to score an in-depth interview with DeWitt to get his thoughts on the current state of webOS and plans for the future.
DeWitt has been managing the PC business for HP in the Americas, with an emphasis on customer experience. Pointing to webOS Butler, DeWitt hopes to make the out of package experience “flawless“. Also gone is the emphasis on a selling to a specific type of consumer. Business and consumer are all one consumer says DeWitt.
We want to sell products that allow your individual identity to be reflected in that device, and we want to make accessibility to that flawless — all the human factors: touch, voice, video.
There is a reoccurring theme and that is DeWitt’s use of the word flawless to describe the experience. While we give him high marks for his focus on experience, there were a few quotes that seemed off base. In speaking about the lukewarm reviews of the TouchPad, DeWitt seemed almost defiant.
First people are saying that we’ve got a fat device. You need a cord to power an iPad. You don’t in our world. The fact that we’re a couple of millimeters fatter is because we have Touchstone, and Touchstone allows our device to be inductively powered. And that Touchstone feature allows us to do things like touch-to-share. So we traded off a couple of millimeters — which at the end of the day, isn’t going to have any impact on functionality — for features and function.
Having used a number of tablets, I can say with veracity that size does impact usability. It’s one of the primary reasons why so many folks upgraded from a first generation iPad to an iPad 2.
The second piece is application availability. This is probably the most simplistic, no-brainer argument there is. Of course everybody’s going to come out and say, “well, you don’t have the apps Apple has.” Well, no kidding, Apple’s been on the market for a couple of years. We have more native TouchPad apps than Apple had when they launched the iPad. We have all of the key apps out, and we’re going to have a ton more every day.
When the iPad was released, there were no other mass market tablets. Every company that now follows are not entitled to any sort of free pass due the app situation of the original iPad. Customers aren’t thinking, “well this tablet doesn’t have apps, but either did the iPad when it first launched.” They are comparing the TouchPad with the iPad, Xoom, Samsung Tab 10.1 and all of the other tablets on the shelves. The current app situation is not good enough. HP does not have “all the key apps out”. Netflix? Kindle?
DeWitt certainly seems to have the fire in the belly necessary to take webOS to the next level. Having just taken over the position, that will take time. It’s also a tough spot for DeWitt, as there is a fine line between promoting a newly launched product and acknowledging the challenges ahead.