Hewlett Packard on Thursday said it will begin selling its Wi-Fi-only WebOS TouchPad tablet in the U.S. on July 1, followed "later this summer" by a 3G model through a partnership with AT&T.
Customers will be able to buy the Wi-Fi TouchPad directly from HP or through Amazon.com, Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot, Walmart, Sam’s Club, OfficeMax, and other national and regional retailers. HP channel partners will also be selling the TouchPad, and HP will begin taking TouchPad pre-orders in North America and Europe on June 19.
After launching in the U.S., the TouchPad will hit stores in the U.K., Ireland, France and Germany "a few days later" and in Canada in mid-July, according to HP. Prospective customers in Italy, Spain, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Singapore will have to wait until some undefined point "later this year".
The Wi-Fi TouchPad is priced at $499.99 for the 16 GB and $599.99 for the 32 GB model. HP says it will provide more information about the 3G model's pricing plans at a time closer to its launch.
HP hasn't been rushing TouchPad to market, and CEO Leo Apotheker recently said he'd rather be late and launch a smoothly functioning product than risk a repeat of RIM's glitch-ridden PlayBook release. Apotheker also suggested that he's had to shield WebOS from internal bureaucracy at HP, which may have slowed its progress.
Apotheker believes that WebOS' unique features and functionality will enable HP to capture the number three spot behind Apple and Google in the tablet space in relatively short order.
Once this happens, HP would be able to start viewing the mobile market competition as a marathon as opposed to a sprint, according to Apotheker, and this is where HP's channel and distribution would become a clear advantage.
HP still faces the formidable challenge of building a critical mass of developers around WebOS, a task that's complicated by the abundance of competing platforms and the rapid growth of iOS and Android development. HP partners are intrigued by WebOS but with a few exceptions, they're waiting to see how the TouchPad sells before they commit the resources to create a development practice.