Now that HP's brief foray in the tablet market has reached an anticlimactic conclusion, the vultures are circling the now-discontinued WebOS-powered TouchPad. Android fans are looking to breathe new life in the TouchPad with a port of Google's platform, while Microsoft is dangling a cache of goodies to lure WebOS developers to Windows Phone 7. Meanwhile, HP wants us to believe it can still wring value out of its mobile platform, just not on mobile devices.
A team of developers of RootzWiki have announced the launch of a project called Touchdroid, a port of Android that can run on the TouchPad. The group's plan is to first build the platform on Gingerbread. From there, project leader Thomas Somers says the team will continue to provide bug fixes for the Gingerbread smartphone build while beginning work on a full Honeycomb tablet port -- unless the dual smartphone-tablet Ice Cream Sandwich comes out in time to work with instead.
Ambitious though the undertaking may be, it's tough to view it as little more than a desperate and possibly misguided attempt to keep a DOA hardware platform on life support. Such a project would require plunking down licensing fees for Android, and what's the payoff? Not many TouchPads are out there as it is, and none are forthcoming, so the platform won't find its way onto any new machines. People who want an Android device would eschew purchasing Touchdroid because it will likely be incapable of providing the type of user experience you'd get from a true Android tablet.
Meanwhile, the poor souls who do own TouchPads, whether bought at retail price (you can still get some of your cash back) or at a bargain-bin price thanks to TouchPad fire sales, are at best going to have that poor man's Android device, which will see no apps and no useful updates.
Further, the TouchPad project could prove a juicy target for the major platform vendors out there that are laying claim to patents within Android. A cease-and-desist letter from, say, Oracle, could stop this sort of endeavor in its tracks.