The HP TouchPad is in greater demand and has been selling like hot cakes after the company cut the price of its fading tablet to as low as $99.99.
Just six weeks after its release, HP announced last Thursday it was ousting the TouchPad due to poor sales and customer complaints about the software's speed. The company has also decided to get rid of all webOS devices in order to further develop the webOS platform itself, rather than focusing on hardware.
While HP hasn't released an official number of units sold yet, perhaps we can make an educated guess. Both HP and retailer Best Buy Web sites reported that they had sold out of TouchPads.
Due to the significant price reduction, we experienced overwhelming demand for the product and are temporarily out of inventory, HP said in a statement on its Web site on Monday.
Best Buy reportedly had 270,000 units in its inventory. Amazon.com also reported that the Touchpad became its top-selling electronic gadget over the weekend. Other retailers also reportedly sold out of the TouchPads including Barnes & Noble, Fry's, J&R, MicroCenter, Office Max, Radio Shack, Sam's Club and Target.
Thus, using the 270,000 inventory of Best Buy as a base figure, and adding all the TouchPads that have been sold by various retailers (both online and onsite) we can make a conservative guess that at least 500,000 units have already been sold, perhaps many more.
HP’s Social Media Manager, Bryna Corcoran, posted on Twitter that its warehouse would be sending out another consignment of TouchPads, although she didn’t provide any hard numbers.
No more [TouchPads are] being made, she tweeted Sunday night, but [we] have inventory coming from ones already manufactured.
Is the Fire Sale a Cure to HP Problems?
Even though the tablet continues to sell in great numbers, one should be weary of calling this the cure to HP's problems. It seems the company will still struggle even with a hot-selling TouchPad.
HP pulled the plug on its tablet computer which had disappointing sales since its release in early July. In a bid to clear out inventory, the price for a 16GB TouchPad fell from $500, to $400, and now to $99. The price of the 32GB TouchPad fell from $600, to $149.
According to an iSuppli teardown, the 16GB TouchPad cost $306.65 to build while the 32GB version cost $328.65. This means if the 16GB version sells for $99, HP is losing more than $200 on every Touchpad sold. There is a reason the tablet had such a high price.
Both HP and Best Buy also assured early TouchPad buyers that the companies will refund the price difference between what they previously paid (as high as $499) and the current firesale price.
According to some reports, HP ordered between 500,000 and 1 million units of the TouchPad from its Taiwan-based contractor Compal. But the sales were terrible particularly at retailer Best Buy, which was alone chafing at some 270,000 surplus before the price cut.
If the million unit order is correct and if it is evenly split between 16GB and 32GB units, HP eventually loses $200 on each one, making it a total loss of $200m. The number doesn't take into account other charges, including the huge marketing and promotion campaign for the TouchPad.