On July 1, HP will launch its HP TouchPad, its WebOS-based tablet, into a crowded sea of tablets already adrift in the wake of Apple's iPad—RIM's PlayBook, any number of Android tablets from Motorola, Toshiba, and so on. With such a late entry to the crowded marketplace, critics have said, HP lags behind competitors who have a huge head start fostering robust app environments. Android and Apple boast hundreds of thousands of apps on their platforms. HP, on the other hand, will only offer thousands at most at launch, with just a few hundred written for the TouchPad specifically.
But HP believes it has an edge. Today HP announced Pivot, a monthly digital magazine for the TouchPad designed to showcase apps and cut through the clutter common of most app stores. While most app stores rely on often-unhelpful top 10 lists (most downloaded, highest grossing, best rated, etc.), Pivot will rely on a slew of freelance journalists and publishing partners to provide users with curated app content.
"For the most part, app catalogs out there are fairly stagnant," says Richard Kerris, VP of WebOS worldwide developer relations at HP. "If you're not in the top four or five, you're in the bottom ton, and no one can find you."
Pivot magazine will offer users columns and feature articles that essentially act as app reviews. Rather than having to go to any number of outside sites that typically review apps—like Gizmodo, for example—HP has decided to corral reviews into its tablet itself, so when reading about the apps, a download link will be readily available. Each issue will follow a specific theme—the July issue will be all about discovery. General, yes, but as more and more apps enter HP's catalog, Kerris foresees more and more chances for in-depth editorial. Issues are designed for lifestyle—Kerris can imagine issues based around summer activities or sports, say.
"We think it's going to be a much better way to explore applications," he says. "Soon it might become the baseball issue or oh, I'm going on a wine tour, what apps are available?"
HP is working with a range of freelancers and publishing partners—they've been in discussions with Conde Nast, for example—for content. Kerris says his group along with another one at HP is responsible for the magazine—an outside firm helps pull it all together.
"Ideally I could see us saying, here is this month's Vanity Fair piece around technology," Kerris says. "But we're going to keep it focused on lifestyle—that's what makes it interesting—if we start venturing off into other areas, then it would become The Daily."
"At a 10,000 foot view, Pivot is an app magazine that is a growing, living way to discover apps based on your likes, lifestyle, and recommendations from friends," he continues. "It's a way for us to bring up developers that might not get noticed, and about making app discovery informative and entertaining."