Hewlett-Packard can’t seem to make up its mind regarding its TouchPad tablet. Soon after the company announced it was discontinuing its production – creating a surge in demand and a quick sell out of the tablet – HP announced it would begin producing another round of the seemingly doomed product.
HP said it will manufacture a limited quantity of TouchPads with webOS during its fourth fiscal quarter of 2011, which ends Oct. 31. Apparently, during the TouchPad fire sale, people were clamoring to find remaining tablets. Those who emailed HP even received a one-time, exclusive offer to buy one upon its release.
In a blog post, the company said the speed with which the last round of TouchPads sold, after the price was slashed to $99, was “stunning” and the company was “pleasantly surprised by the response.”
Before the price reduction, retailers such as Walmart and Best Buy had complained of weak sales and were intent on sending the TouchPads back to HP. One Best Buy salesperson in Silicon Valley told me that, before the price reduction, for every 20 iPads sold, about one TouchPad was sold.
Still, HP didn’t say the new tablets would go for the dirt cheap (and unprofitable) price of $99. Retailers will have flexibility, should they opt to sell the tablets for higher price point. The reason for HP’s new TouchPad production remains unclear, but previous deals with hardware manufacturers and parts suppliers may have had something to do with the decision.
iSupply speculates that, in terms of components alone, a 16-GB TouchPad costs HP approximately $318 to build.
By some accounts, a couple thousand of HP’s TouchPad have sold on eBay, with one person who bought 100 tablets at $99 each selling 70 of them for approximately $323 per unit, according to IT Pro Portal. Some have even cracked the TouchPad to run on Android.
HP CEO Leo Apotheker said the reason he was killing the TouchPad, after only 49 days from its July debut, was that it “was not selling at all.” He also announced HP would spin-off or sell its PC division and discontinue all products related to its webOS.