HP's TouchPad has become a major seller after retailers radically dropped the price of the soon-to-be-defunct tablet.
Hewlett-Packard's TouchPad turned out to be a bestseller.
All HP had to do was kill the tablet, which in turn sparked
a global fire sale at electronics retailers.
Over the weekend, Best Buy slashed the price of the 16GB TouchPad from $399 to
$99, and the 32GB version from $499 to $149. (That's on top of the $100
discount instituted by HP earlier in August, which drove the sticker price for
the TouchPad down from $499 and $599, respectively, for the 16GB and 32GB
models.) HP's own Website also lowered the entry price to $99.
That was enough to send customers swarming locust-style onto
both online shopping Websites and brick-and-mortar stores, where they did their
best to strip existing stocks of the device.
HP made the executive decision to kill the TouchPad a mere
six weeks after its release, apparently in response to anemic sales. Critics
had focused on the slowness of the user interface, something HP managed to
somewhat fix with a software update. The TouchPad's app ecosystem was
relatively spare, especially in comparison with Apple's App Store and Google's
Android Marketplace; however, that hadn't dissuaded HP executives from touting
the platform's potential to the bitter end.
"HP reported that it plans to announce that it will
discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad [tablet]
and webOS phones," read the Aug. 18
released by the company ahead of its earnings call. "HP will
continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going
forward." Its bottom-line revenue for the fiscal fourth quarter 2011 will
absorb restructuring and shutdown costs associated with webOS devices.
HP had previously expressed high hopes for webOS, which it
inherited as part of its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm in 2010. HP CEO Leo
Apotheker had previously made no secret of his plans to eventually license the
operating system to other manufacturers, suggesting in a March 9 Bloomberg
report that such a move would help create a "massive platform." That month, the
company announced it would install webOS on all desktop and notebook computers
But now those plans have crashed and burned-especially since
HP plans on spinning off its PC division in addition to killing its tablet and
smartphones. HP's big strategy is to reposition itself as a seller of software
and services, which will place it in direct competition with the likes of
Oracle and SAP (Apotheker's former company). In the meantime, customers seem
more interested than ever in the TouchPad-in its dying moments, the cheapest
tablet on the market.
Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter