It just goes to show you, anything will sell at the right price.
In the tablet world, dominated by Apple's iPad, the HP TouchPad got no love. It was derided for its WebOS operating system and lack of pizazz, compared to its flashier rivals.
But what a difference a price cut makes. Over the weekend HP announced it was getting out of the tablet business and slashed the price of its TouchPad from $399 for the 16KB version to $99. Suddenly the unloved device was selling like hotcakes.
Many Best Buys and other retail outlets that normally have a hard time selling any TouchPads reported selling out in a few hours today. And no one in the tech world seems all that surprised.
Best tech deal ever?
“The $99 HP TouchPad is one of the best tech deals of the year – possible one of the best tech deals ever,” gushed PC Magazine. “Even though the touchPad's webOS may never see another product, the TouchPad is still a powerful, flexible tablet, and $99 - $149 for the 32GB – is a killer price.
What about the webOS operating system? Isn't the system, inherited by HP when it acquired Palm, pretty much headed for oblivion? Not so, says Stephen Dewitt, senior VP of Palm, who told Bloomberg News that HP is only getting out of the tablet market, not the software market.
J.R. Raphael, a blogger for ComputerWorld, said he went out over the weekend and bought a Touchpad, even though he already had an Android tablet, calling $99 “a steal for that kind of hardware.” He said, even if you just used it as an alarm clock, it was a good buy.
“Aside from the default webOS software, there's a very good chance I'll be able to install Android onto the TouchPad at some point in the foreseeable future,” Ralphael wrote. “Teams of Android enthusiasts like the gang from RootzWiki are already hard at work creating Android ports for the product.”
Business writers at Britain's Guardian newspaper note that HP is losing millions of dollars by refunding retailers the difference between the old price and the new price, but it's not clear the move is all that much of a disaster. After all, companies spend millions on highly ineffective television commercials that move little product.
In slashing the price, HP has transformed the TouchPad from a device no one wanted to a device everyone wants. And if the company quickly sells its complete inventory, it will have an instant customer base for software.
Should you buy one? The verdict in the tech world, at least, appears to be a resounding yes. If you can find one.