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HP TouchPad: The zombie tablet rises again as HP confirms more will be made

Meeting "unfulfilled demand", says HP - but no reprieve for webOS hardware unit...

Meeting "unfulfilled demand", says HP - but no reprieve for webOS hardware unit...

The TouchPad tablet - which created a bargain-hunting frenzy when it was discounted to £89 earlier this month - is making a brief comeback as its maker HP has revealed it will make some more of the discontinued device to meet unfulfilled demand.

The TouchPad was launched in July but became the mayfly of the gadget world when it was killed off less than two months after its release - a victim of the success of the Apple iPad and a change in HP's corporate strategy which will see it shutter its webOS hardware division, the unit behind the TouchPad.

HP webOS

The HP TouchPad is coming back for one last runPhoto: HP

After announcing its demise, HP slashed the prices of the TouchPad from £349 to £89 for the 16GB version, and from £429 to £115 for the 32GB model, both of which promptly sold out.

However, Mark Budgell, an HP social media strategist, said the company has decided to "produce one last run of TouchPads to meet unfulfilled demand", with a limited supply likely to be available in a few weeks.

"Since we announced the price drop, the number of inquiries about the product and the speed at which it disappeared from inventory has been stunning. I think it's safe to say we were pleasantly surprised by the response," he wrote in a blog post.

HP will be manufacturing "a limited quantity of TouchPads with webOS" during the fourth quarter of this financial year, which ends 31 October, according to the post.

HP also reiterated in the blog that it is "discontinuing the development of webOS devices and is winding down device operations" over that same period.

The TouchPad 32GB version of the tablet costs around $328 to build, according to the analysis by IHS iSuppli, while its original retail price was $599. The smaller-capacity 16GB TouchPad costs $306 to manufacture, against a retail price of $499 - meaning HP made a significant loss on each device sold for $99.

"Each retailer will manage their own policy and process regarding pricing and price matching", according to the blog, and when more TouchPads become available, there will be a devices-per-person order limit.

The slightly surreal tale of the TouchPad's return has even prompted one of HP's social media managers to adopt the hashtag #TouchPad Zombie to announce the new manufacturing run: "Your new found love for the TouchPad has apparently brought it back from the dead. #TouchPadZombie has risen. If only temporarily", she said.

Update: HP has now confirmed that the new batch of TouchPads are for North America only, and that none will be available in the UK.