HP dates TouchPad UK launch

HP has officially announced availability of its first webOS-based tablet, the TouchPad, but questions still remain about whether the device will have what it takes to offer serious competition to Apple's popular iPad.

Today's announcement confirms that the device is imminent, if slightly delayed from an originally planed June launch suggested to thinq_ by a source at the company. The TouchPad will launch in the US first on the 1st of July, with the UK, Ireland, France, and Germany to follow "a few days later."

Those countries are to be joined by Canada in mid-July, while residents of Italy, Spain, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Singapore are, for some reason, expected to wait until "later this year" to get their hands on the device.

The TouchPad is HP's first attempt at moving the Palm-developed webOS platform out of the smartphone world and in to more powerful devices. In an interview with thinq_ earlier this year, HP's Rebecca Shears declared webOS to be integral to HP's future vision.

"It's about this seamless, interconnected world," she said. "Tap-to-share, phones, laptops - we're a tech company that provides this world where everything is connected. For us, webOS is our primary operating system - and that is what we'll be pushing."

It's a move which will see HP standardise on webOS across its entire computing platform: smartphones, tablets, netbooks, and even PCs. That all hinges, however, on getting developers involved. If the TouchPad sells poorly, then it won't attract the kind of development community that the iPad and Google's Android platform have enjoyed.

HP is confident it's on to a winner, however. "What makes HP TouchPad a compelling alternative to competing products is webOS," claimed HP's Palm expert Jon Rubinstein. "The platform's unmatched features and flexibility will continue to differentiate HP products from the rest of the market for both personal and professional use. This is only the beginning of what HP’s scale can do with webOS."

UK pricing has now been confirmed at £399 and £479 for the 16GB and 32GB models respectively, matching the price Apple charges for the iPad 2. Pre-orders are due to begin on the 19th of June.

While HP has included some clever technology in the TouchPad, including a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and optional wireless charging dock, it will have a fight on its hands if it wants to make an impact in a market which is largely dominated by iOS and Android.