There's a company out there named ViewSonic. You may have heard of them- they make excellent monitors, and they also have a decent line of tablets. Of course, their slates don't really have a high visibility in the consumer world. People talk about the iPad and the Xoom and the PlayBook- even a little about the TouchPad. ViewSonic's tablets aren't very popular outside of the modding community.
It isn't due to an issue with quality- they're all quite pleasant to use. But there's really no point to a tablet that brings nothing to the table but a decent design and good hardware. Creative people, developers and the like, can have oodles of fun with a blank slate. But fifteen million laymen and -women won't queue up in front of shops to get one.
HP doesn't play for small potatoes. And they've been watching Apple for long enough to know that no tablet is going to draw in crowds of users unless it can excite them somehow. The TouchPad needs to have something unique- more than just "ultra productive" and "running webOS". Customers have already shown that superior hardware- like the 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, isn't important enough to win the day over style.
Fortunately, it looks like HP might just have a little extra style left over from their glory days. PreCentral has just posted some leaked slides detailing the TouchPad's music streaming service. If they can pull this off, it'll be a revolutionary achievement. Certainly enough to keep webOS afloat to another generation of tablets.
Here's the Plan: The TouchPad will have access to both the HP Movie Store and HP Music Store. The latter will be capable of syncing your tablet up remotely. You'll have access to streaming music that you don't yet own and a "smart algorithm" will automatically cache your most-demanded music locally, on the tablet. Presumably, something broadly similar in terms of function has been planned for the Movie Store.
This Music Store is presumably built on the back of HP's Melodeo acquisition. The Melodeo music service was built to allow users to scan in their iTunes playlist and access it on your mobile device. The company also had a recommendation engine that gave you access to other user playlists and "editorial" playlists. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
The local caching is where things get tricky. Will only media you own be stored on the device itself? Or has HP devised some sort of service agreement ala the Zune? Melodeo originally had both flat-fee and monthly-fee options. So maybe we'll see something like that.
This whole service may still be very embryonic- but this news is certainly reason for cautious optimism. It's hard not to want to see webOS succeed.