The 18-minute video of poking around in the development emulator makes webOS look about as interesting as the TouchPad hardware: while there are a lot of small differences, to a casual observer, it mostly looks and works like an iPad.
Of course, the TouchPad will be noticeably worse than an iPad in many areas on launch: effectively zero apps, probably no good way to sync media from a computer, and probably no good on-device media storefronts. It’s also unlikely that it will be any cheaper than the iPad.
It’s so similar to the iPad, but worse in these areas important to most consumers, that it’s going to have a hard time being seen as anything but a knockoff. And knockoffs that aren’t significantly cheaper than the real thing don’t sell.
HP would have a better chance at making the TouchPad successful if they took more risks with it and deviated much further from the iPad in both hardware and software.
As it looks now, I don’t see how the TouchPad will ever get enough of an installed base to overcome the chicken-and-egg problem with developers — one of the biggest problems hindering Android tablets today and likely to cause headaches for RIM’s PlayBook.
It’s not that the TouchPad doesn’t look good — webOS 3.0 looks decent — it’s that it’s not good enough, and not different enough, for a nontrivial number of buyers to choose it over the iPad.