There are few (if any) tales in the tech world as convoluted and bizarre as the HP TouchPad story. Not that long ago HP purchased webOS and creator Palm for $1.2 billion, leading to the launch of the conpany's first (and now only) webOS tablet, the TouchPad.
A lackluster launch resulted in giant HP throwing in the towel, cancelling the TouchPad and (and all webOS devices) a mere 49 days after that launch. HP promptly dropped the price of the beleaguered TouchPad to a mere $99, resulting in lines at retail stores and online shoppers clogging online community forums as they were unable to get one at the ridiculous price.
Finally, HP decided to clear out the inventory of parts used in the TouchPad, and announced it would make one more production run of as many as 200,000 TouchPads.
The firesale of TouchPads touched off a frenzy of activity as hundreds of thousands snatched up a TouchPad at the reduced price. This caused a firestorm of coverage on tech sites like this one, and set off a buying spree for TouchPad apps that had a few developers smiling. I spoke to several developers who saw a 10x increase in sales the past month, and one who has seen sales in the five figures during this time. This activity is not that surprising given how short a time the TouchPad was on the market and how many have purchased one. The novelty period of a new gadget has been in full swing.
The activity has calmed down as buyers have received their new $99 TouchPad and learned about the webOS platform and the tablet. Those that are going to buy apps for the tablet have likely already done so, and things should be calming down quickly. The final production run of TouchPads may trigger activity in the channel for retailers and developers alike, but this shouldn't last long given the reduced number of new buyers generated.
Sadly, the reality that no new TouchPads will ever be made by HP after this final hurrah means the platform is in for a very long quiet time. HP is shopping the platform around, but even if it gets a buyer (or licensor) onboard it will be some time before any devices would hit the market. It is not clear what developers will do going forward, but it is likely more than a few of them will jump platforms. People have to make money and a dormant platform is not a good way to do that so who can blame them.
In life we are fond of referencing the calm before the storm, but unfortunately this webOS calm may be preceding a really long calm period.
Additional HP TouchPad coverage:
- HP TouchPad: Everything you want to know
- How to improve the performance of your new HP TouchPad
- HP’s TouchPad fire sale: The fallout
- HP punts on WebOS, discontinues TouchPad, cuts outlook
- A tale of two failures: Microsoft’s Kin and HP’s TouchPad
- webOS: A compelling OS that never appeared on great hardware
- Five lessons tablet OEMs can learn from HP TouchPad fiasco