updated 04:15 pm EST, Wed February 9, 2011
HP TouchPad gets Time magazines, Kindle, Skype
HP as part of the introduction of the TouchPad set out a determined strategy to challenge Apple in the tablet reading space. The company promised its webOS slate would get subscription access to major Time Inc. magazines, including Time as well as People and Sports Illustrated. The company gave little details but made clear they would work in any orientation and would be as visually rich as their iPad equivalents.
Some mysteries still remain, including how subscriptions will be handled and how well they should work. HP is likely to avoid demands like Apple's required in-app model and may let Time Inc. have more control of the payment system.
Along with direct subscriptions, the TouchPad will also get a native webOS version of Amazon's Kindle app. The e-reader edition will have a somewhat unique look compared to alternatives on Android and the iPad but should preserve features like shopping. Whether or not HP will allow in-app buying isn't clear; other platforms force users out to the web to complete sales.
The reading strategy is a rare direct attempt at competing with Apple's iBooks. Tablet reading exists on other platforms, but it often isn't a cornerstone element. Google won't have reading as a major component until Android 3.0 ships along with the Xoom, and the BlackBerry PlayBook is depending mostly on Kobo's bookstore app with the Kindle app coming separately.
Side-by-side with reading was news that HP would be aggressive in supporting its front camera and will have Skype video calling from the start.
The TouchPad is due in the summmer and is likely to get the Kindle, Skype and Time apps in sync, although the companies didn't confirm whether they would have their titles ready in step with the tablet.