Dear new HP CEO: Bring the TouchPad line back

Dear new HP CEO: Bring the TouchPad line back

Summary: Wall Street and the mobile world are expecting HP to toss the CEO that cancelled the TouchPad product line and introduce a new boss. Here's what the new boss should do immediately.

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Update: I have been bombarded by readers asking to make this request into a petition to present to HP, so a poll has been added after the letter. Please indicate your desire to have HP revive either the TouchPad line or all webOS products. I have been promised that HP executives will see this petition.

Dear Meg Whitman,

I cover mobile technology and rarely reach out directly to companies that produce the things I cover. I am making an exception this once due to the unusual circumstances surrounding your hiring. Before you pick out decorations for your new office, prior to firing executives you feel lack direction, even before you give the mandatory all-hands statement about how happy you are to be leading HP, do one thing. Publicly reverse the decision to kill off the TouchPad line and intention to find something to do with webOS.

Don't misunderstand me, the original TouchPad was not perfect by any means, but it is the one single tablet that made a dent in a previously untouchable tablet market. The bizarre fire sale helped speed that up, but from my point of view it is the only tablet produced to date with the potential of long-term success. It is unlike anything else that has come to market, it is powered by a very good OS in webOS, and the development team is as good as any in the business.

The decision to cancel the TouchPad line will go down in history as one of the most ridiculous business decisions ever made. A rapid reversal of that decision will end up being one of the smartest. I am not an HP shareholder, nor do I have a crystal ball that sees the future. I just cover this stuff for a living and I am confident I am right.

So draft that official memo to shareholders, employees and the press. HP realizes the move to mothball the TouchPad line was premature and not well thought out. Sales will begin anew immediately, along with production of the 7-inch model that was just weeks away when the executive order went out to can it all.

I predict HP stock will shoot up the moment you release such a statement. The TouchPad will start selling like crazy as long as some reasonable pricing is used. The zealous webOS user community will rally like few have ever done before, and the HP team behind the products will follow you anywhere. This one executive act will be studied in business schools in the future, and your name will be discussed by budding MBAs worldwide. You will be a hero, and there are very few of those in business. A Steve Jobs type of hero, and that's pretty good company.

Yours truly,

James Kendrick

ZDNet Mobile News

[poll id="9"]

The poll ran for a week and is now closed. The total votes submitted:

  • Bring back the TouchPad and webOS phones -- 5,759
  • Bring back at least the TouchPad line -- 1,760
  • Total votes submitted -- 7,519

Topics: CXO, Hewlett-Packard, Mobility, Operating Systems, Tablets

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193 comments
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  • RE: Dear new HP CEO: Bring the TouchPad line back

    YES - A THOUSAND TIMES YES! Thanks James. You captured how I, as a TouchPad owner feel. The TouchPad is as good or in many ways better than any other tablet, in spite of some flaws with hardware and a smaller number of apps.
    rkd7777
    • RE: Dear new HP CEO: Bring the TouchPad line back

      @rkd7777 From what I saw using one briefly, I have to agree with you both. The TouchPad died a very premature death. The OS underpinnings and the UI were solid and second only to iPad on ease of use. With some tweaks and more incentives for application developers, I figured HP would become the second major player in tablets after another year or so of application development and fixes.

      But, everyone has to realize that HP cannot bring the TouchPad back at fire sale prices. They were taking a huge loss with each unit they sold at those crazy prices. On the other hand, if they can cut their margins just to increase installed base, that will create a market for application developers. The expanding application catalog will then attract more sales. As a result, the manufacturing volume will build until the margins expand due to volume discounts.

      My last idea for them to have more success is to implement a good Palm OS emulator and re-attach the Palm moniker in some form. Palm had a huge following which felt very alienated when they were hung out to dry in the switch to WebOS. Those people had applications they had been using forever and really didn't want to give them all up in one fell swoop. If there was a way to bring those Palm faithful back into the fold, it would create a bigger following a lot quicker.
      BillDem
      • RE: Dear new HP CEO: Bring the TouchPad line back

        @BillDem You say "second to the iPad in ease of use". I've been using an iPad for 17 months now, and find the Touchpad's mail and browser far friendlier than the iPad's. Using the iPad's center button to go between apps is more cumbersome than "flicking" between apps on the Touchpad. The Touchpad's email app - especially in landscape - is easier and faster than the iPad's app. And no juggling between alpha an numeric keyboards. All in my opinion, of course.
        stansil@...
      • You can use 'swipe' gesture on iPad to switch between applications, you do

        @stansil: ... not have to click the button.<br><br>As to reviving TouchPad, it is hopeless idea. <b>It only interests people when it costs $99.</b> So unless the petitioners will send additional $400 per every sold revived HPT in the future to cover huge losses, HP will be hardly convinced.
        DDERSSS
  • RE: Dear new HP CEO: Bring the TouchPad line back

    James, you are awesome! :-)
    capt4chris@...
  • RE: Dear new HP CEO: Bring the TouchPad line back

    where do I co-sign?
    jdl2010
  • RE: Dear new HP CEO: Bring the TouchPad line back

    Spot on! Thank you and hopefully someone at HP passes this on!
    futhark21
  • RE: Dear new HP CEO: Bring the TouchPad line back

    I agree, wholeheartedly. I was lucky and managed to get one 32 GB Touchpad and have enjoyed it immensely. I have friends with Ipad 1 and 2 and Motorola Xoom, and they seem to believe that the TP is equal to their $500 - $650 tablet. You must bring the TP back, and at a reasonable price (firesale price, :)). The TP is my go-to gadget, and would love to get one for other family members. Please bring this back and put some effort into WebOS and apps. I am truly glad that I made this purchase; but if not for the firesale I would have passed tablets over. I belive that this is an awesome product that was put to rest before its time.
    TattedFreak
  • RE: Dear new HP CEO: Bring the TouchPad line back

    +1
    argenis_a_z@...
  • RE: Dear new HP CEO: Bring the TouchPad line back

    return of the touchpad and keep the PC biz?
    nickp91
    • RE: Dear new HP CEO: Bring the TouchPad line back

      @nickp91 yes to both. The PC biz (the number one company on pc sales) spinoff decision was a little crazy. Sure IBM did it and it worked, but times are different.
      grayknight
      • That part I'd actually go through with

        @G Computer Network
        HP should never have bought Compaq in the first place. Thus, I think it makes sense to sell it back to the public as the PC-maker it started as, allowing HP to focus on the high end.
        John L. Ries
  • Sorry to burst your bubble...

    but as good as webOS may be, the only reason it sold like hot cakes was the $99 fire-sale price tag.

    >>> The TouchPad will start selling like crazy as long as some reasonable pricing is used. >>>

    If priced like the iPad (and so HP doesn't sell each one at a loss), it's hard to say how well it will sell.

    Like the original Motorola and BB tablets, it was far from "prefect" on launch so more than a "reasonable" price will be needed to be even moderately successful.
    MacCanuck
    • RE: Dear new HP CEO: Bring the TouchPad line back

      @MacCanuck That's not exactly true, MC. The week before leo lost what was left of his mind, hp reduced the price by $100. Staples then added a $100 coupon. The buzz was insane, and Staples sold out in hours. Many other retailers matched the coupon with (predictably) great results. It was stupid for HP to think that people (even us webOS loyalists) would pay iPad prices for a 1st-gen tablet from them. For 30-40% less, however... Just so you know, I use win7 pc's, I love most things apple makes, and my phones have been palm for years, so I have biases for all of them!
      TimmyB
    • RE: Dear new HP CEO: Bring the TouchPad line back

      @MacCanuck <br>I agree. Many (not all) that are pro-Touchpad seem to be under the impression that the reasonable price point is the fire sale price or not much higher. I really like my Touchpads but would not buy any for a higher price than $300 flat which I suspect is still a bit low for HP to profit. Although the fire sale may have piqued some interest in this product so as to get some customers to fork out more if it were to return to market, they may not be willing to fork out what is sufficient for HP to make a sufficient margin of profit.
      Viva la crank dodo
    • RE: Dear new HP CEO: Bring the TouchPad line back

      @MacCanuck the reason the HP Touchpad didn't sell well(it actually DID sell pretty well before the fire sale) was that HP dropped the ball on vender training. If electronics salemen don't even know how webOS is superior to any other operating system, you will just get a default to the inferior IPad, because it is a known quantity.
      Detfan
  • RE: Dear new HP CEO: Bring the TouchPad line back

    Amen. Couldn't have said it any better.
    KarenGtoo
  • RE: Dear new HP CEO: Bring the TouchPad line back

    +1 Each of us who agree should send an email with that message to meg@hp ....
    Yamamoto9999
  • RE: Dear new HP CEO: Bring the TouchPad line back

    Now You're Begging?
    slickjim
  • RE: Dear new HP CEO: Bring the TouchPad line back

    Touch pad may be a great tablet, but the battle lines are already drawn. Sadly Web Os future looks bleek. Hp could make high tech Win 8 tablets and Ultrabooks with high profit margin for the corporates to make money. Low priced web os tablets is not going to cut it.
    owlnet