HP's TouchPad debacle just keeps going, and going, and going. The launched the product with big hopes and promises, then seven weeks later they killed it with barely an explanation at all. Discounted to $99, the TouchPad became the hottest tech gadget around for one week, until it sold out.
Now, HP is back again, seemingly unable to let go of the TouchPad it created and then walked away from so quickly like it wanted nothing to do with the tablet at all. The latest: HP's statement today on the company's TheNextBench blog saying, Despite announcing an end to manufacturing webOS hardware, we have decided to produce one last run of TouchPads to meet unfulfilled demand.
Just two weeks before, retailers wanted to give HP back all the TouchPads the had in stock. So HP put the product to its death. Everybody gobbled up the fire sale stock, and now, of course, wishy-washy HP wants to build some more.
But it's not like the company is so flim-flam it wants to get back in the TouchPad business.
Here's betting it crossed some minds. But here's a bigger bet that HP simply wants to make everybody who suffered in the embarrassing debacle happy in the end, best the company can. For starters, there are many customers who have ordered the product from HP's Web site that would like to get their hands on the $99 deal.
HP doesn't want to alienate those customers since the company remains, for now, in the PC business. HP had built a good brand after all these years and business and no sense ruining it all with one flop project and a bunch of knee jerk reactions leading to many unhappy customers with the HP brand.
Also, HP has a some component suppliers to please. Many who made components for the TouchPad are holding unused inventory that is worthless unless the company meets remaining fire sale demand and makes another production run or two.
A report from the DigiTimes verifies that very thing.
The suppliers are currently in negotiation with HP to find a solution for the component inventory, while HP Taiwan pointed out will maintain its promise to the partners, reported DigiTimes, quoting HP sources.
It's not like HP is completely foolish. Partially, certainly, considering the company bought Palm for WebOS at a $1.2 billion pricetag, invested heavily to launch the operating system in the TouchPad tablet, pushed retailers to take significant stock, then walked away from it after just seven weeks.
But though consumer demand for the $99 TouchPad is high, HP can't make money at that proposition. In the end, this last production run, and maybe a few more based on the trend, is all about keeping the company's brand from being completely tarnished by customers who ordered the product and want it, and component suppliers who don't want to take a complete bath in the debacle.
So for now, the TouchPad still lives, but not for long. Eventually, this saga will end. It's just not over yet.