HP’s successful fire sale of TouchPad renewed discussion of its reappearance, as the device finds a surprising second life.
HP tablets, now priced at $100 for the 16-gigabyte model and $150 for the model with 32 gigabytes, have sold out so quickly and generated so much interest that the company may consider making more of the devices — and possibly supporting them.
“We have been surprised by the enthusiastic response to the TouchPad price drop, and we understand that many customers were disappointed that HP and our retail partners ran out of supply so fast,” wrote HP spokesman Mark Budgell in a blog post Monday.
Customers began snatching up the discounted tablets after HP announced plans to scrap the company’s WebOS system, spin off its profitable PC division, and purchase U.K. software maker Autonomy for $10 billion.
The WebOS-run TouchPad, which originally sold for about $400 more than its current sale price, may appeal to those looking to test the tablet waters and those who love affordable gadgets.
The steep discounts moved the device, which, because of its discontinuation, was not expected to get software updates. WebOS is considered essentially a dead platform, although fire-sale shoppers don’t seem to mind.
The company today, however, announced it will provide updates that “add functionality” to the WebOS tablet, helping to keep the device alive in spite of its official demise.
HP will “continue to investigate the best ways to leverage WebOS software and grow the applications,” said the company in a statement.
Because of brisk sales, the device seems to have found a place in a market dominated by Apple’s iPad and garnered largely positive reviews, possibly fueling consumer interest.
Tech savvy segments of consumers are also snatching up the devices to modify them and run Android OS, giving the TouchPad another second life. The website Hack N Mod is offering a reward for anyone who can prove they’ve modified the tablet to efficiently run Google’s Android operating system, effectively creating a tablet with updated software able to run new apps if WebOS runs dry.
The tablet’s resurgence even sparked surges in advertising on the WebOS platform. Reportedly, Jumptap, a mobile advertising agency, released statistics that show HP TouchPad apps have already gathered eight percent of the tablet mobile advertising share, comparable to Android’s nearly 10 percent.
Not all analysts agree this surprising number represents the big picture, however, since Android tablets have been on sale for some time while the HP Touchpad has been on the market for only a few weeks. Still, the possibility is generating interest in the advertising industry.
While analysts are still debating what the TouchPad buzz means, it does demonstrate consumers respond very favorably to a low-priced tablet. As for what healthy fire sales mean in the longer term future for HP, the surprising second life of the TouchPad may indicate promising directions to come.