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Even veteran retailers like Staples and Best Buy can't sell the TouchPad.  (Source: Palm Infocenter)

Only approximately 600 people took advantage of Woot.com's fire-sale-priced TouchPad.

HP is letting its rebranded Palm unit return to its old ways -- overproducing and yielding new handsets at a snail's pace.  (Source: Business Blog)
Fire sale TouchPad prices are the latest sign that HP's troubled acquisition is continuing its old ways

Want further proof that Hewlett-Packard, Comp.'s (HPQ) webOS is going nowhere fast?  Look at Woot.com, veteran daily deals site, who tried its hand at selling HP's sole webOS tablet, the TouchPad.  Even the mighty Woot.com could only sell 612 of the infernal devices.

I. TouchPad Sales Get Ugly

When HP launched the TouchPad in July, it proposed a price of $500 USD for the 16 GB model and $600 USD for the 32 GB model, roughly in line with the pricing of Apple, Inc.'s (AAPLiPad 2 and top of the line Android tablets.

The problem was that the TouchPad wasn't exactly top-of-the-line when it came to its user interface, according to reviewers.  Most reviews complained of slow performance and a clunky OS layout.  The problem isn't so much that webOS 3 is terribly bad.  It's that it's not as good as the competition.  In that regard the OS appear to be exactly cut out for the world of tablets.  

HP is still laboring at trying to save the TouchPad -- and its bottom line.  It slashed $100 off the price of both models.  And it recently issued a major update full of tweaks to try to salvage the experience.  HP says the updated will make your TouchPad "even more like nothing else."

But that's done little to help sales.  Retail giant Staples, Inc. (SPLS) recently slashed another $50 off the price of the TouchPad, offering it for a bargain bin $350 USD and later lowered the price even further to $300.  

Rival retailer Best Buy Comp., Inc. (BBY) may soon find itself in a similar lot.  According to a report in All Things Digital, internal reports reveal that Best Buy ordered a stock of 270,000 TouchPads, hoping the devices would be a hit.  It's only been able to sell a reported 25,000 units in the month since -- less than ten percent of its inventory.

An All Things D source at Best Buy confirms that reports of the retailer being buried under the surplus stock are "consistent with what I've seen", and even goes as far as to say the sales figures might be "charitable".  They say that the actual numbers could be quite a bit lower as a substantial number of customers have sought refunds on the devices.

II. HP MUST Act Now

Plunging prices have hit TouchPad sales with a double whammy.  Not only are many customers not interested in the TouchPad, but many of those who are actually interested are now opting to wait in hopes of further price drops.  States Rich Doherty, head of the Envisioneering Group, an analysis firm, "After the initial surge of interest after the July release, all those price promotions have caused consumers interested in buying a TouchPad to pause because they think the price is going to fall further."

But you don't need a high-paid analyst to tell you that.  

Soaring back stocks?  Plunging prices?  Where have we seen this before?  We can tell you where we've seen this before -- the Palm Pre in its dogged final days of fire sales before Palm, Inc.'s own fire-sale-priced acquisition by HP.  Since the start of the smartphone era Palm has suffered from unrealistic expectations and a "shoot first, ask questions later" mentality when it comes to production.  That, coupled with a snail slow pace of handset releases, ultimately doomed Palm as an independent company.  Now HP's webOS devices unit is looking awfully familiar -- a lot like the Palm of old.

Of course HP does have one advantage over Palm, in that it's the top U.S. PC retailer.  HP may be able to push sales of deeply discounted TouchPads during the back to school shopping season by offering deep discounts to those who also buy an applicable HP personal computer.

Sales dilemmas aside, we feel that its high time for HP to commit to some serious intervention and soul-searching when it comes to its rebranded Palm unit.  HP has thus far seemed publicly nonchalant about its struggling unit.  In other words, HP is content to let Palm be Palm.  But in doing so, it's letting its unit sink even deeper in the mire.

At this point the webOS unit has less than 1 percent of the tablet market and less than 1 percent of the smartphone market.  It's beyond a failure in sales.  

On the other hand, it does have a decent operating system, which, with the proper TLC and imagination could be reborn into something bleeding edge (like Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) ambitious Windows Phone 7).

In short, the time for the world's biggest PC company to act is now.  It cannot tolerate the ex-Palm unit to return to its old ways.  Because if it does, it might as well kiss the lucrative tablet and smartphone market -- and it's goal of future sales leadership -- goodbye.



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MAKE THE TABLET GENERIC!!!
By Mitch101 on 8/17/2011 11:37:59 AM , Rating: 2
How about we just make the tablets like PC's and let the consumer choose what OS they want to run on it? Let hardware companies be hardware companies and software companies be software companies. These are touchscreen net-books anyhow.

How about we do that with the phones too while were at it. I pick my phone then pick my OS.

I suspect the I want OS market control problem is because the longer term money to be made is from selling Apps. Dollar here and there from consumers after the device money has been made.

It also might just end some of the lawsuits too because the devices can be shipped without an OS. As I recall thats how one place got around selling mac clones.




RE: MAKE THE TABLET GENERIC!!!
By MrBlastman on 8/17/2011 11:46:42 AM , Rating: 4
Blame it on Steve Jobs. Tablets were like PC's before the iPad came out. After it came out though (well, particularly the iPhone), people began to realize just how much the sheeple were, well, sheep.

The problem is the PC tablets never sold well. They were always big, clunky and well, not really compelling to use over a real laptop. It has taken Microsoft years to come up with a true touch-based GUI that makes them efficient and unfortunately, I look at this as a failed opportunity. They let this happen.

Steve with his magical unicorns and leprechauns, shown down his rainbow on the masses and they were all convinced that there truly was a pot of gold for sale at their malls in a mystical store. It dumbed things down so much that people thought it was easier to use. In reality, it only made it easier for Apple to control everything. Steve is all about control and always has been.

So, we now have everyone trying to copy that. People trying to emulate the "control," in the name of profits.

Give it time though. Microsoft is working on Windows 8 and I have faith that it might provide you what you seek. Your reasoning is exactly why I have yet to purchase a tablet. I refuse to fork out a chunk of cash for a device like that which I can't choose what I run on it.


RE: MAKE THE TABLET GENERIC!!!
By Mitch101 on 8/17/2011 12:41:50 PM , Rating: 3
I know its a closed/locked/non-documented for public platform but part of me says why Google or Microsoft should release an OS that can be flashed to the iPad similar to people who buy Apple computers and put Windows on them. But since nicer hardware exists now for Android Tablets it doesn't matter. Things don't look good for the next iPad either I read that they have supply problems probably because they ticked off/Suing every major manufacturer especially Samsung good luck getting retina displays in quantity now for iPad but I bet Android tablets get them.

Im psyched about Windows 8 tablet from what Ive seen its going to be the best corporate tablet hands down and make a great consumer tablet as well.


RE: MAKE THE TABLET GENERIC!!!
By Tony Swash on 8/17/11, Rating: 0
RE: MAKE THE TABLET GENERIC!!!
By rsmech on 8/18/2011 2:26:58 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
He came up with the fiendish idea to make a tablet people actually wanted to buy - how diabolical!


I will give you that Apple has had many innovations, but yourself have to admit that the hardware in a mac, iphone, or an ipad are not far better or worse than the hardware in a pc, android, windows phone, or many of the touch pads out there. So if it's not hardware it's only software. And this was Apples Problem from the beginning. Why did they fall so far behind in the 90's. Because of software, there was none in comparison to the pc.

So what brought them back in the game again? It wasn't of their own accord. when I was younger parents bought a computer for their kids more than anything. If a parent spent thousands of dollars on a computer it better not just sit there, it better get used for something. I'll tell you what it was used for, GAMING. Mac was not a gaming platform, and it still really isn't today. What saved Apple was Sony & Microsoft, (Playstation and X-box) because this is what separated gaming from computers. This allowed Apples "hip" mentallity to work. Because if you didn't have a game console you wouldn't buy a mac. Don't believe me than someone tell me what percentage of families, with kids have a mac with no game console. I only bought one when they became cheap, I didn't need one. I had a PC. If you have kids & no game console you probably don't have a mac. I know, I know some families do, but I hear them complain about it everytime they come over to my house & play my console or PC.

So Steve is no savior, he got lucky. Game Consoles saved Apple. & like a previous poster stated when & if you can buy the hardware & choose your software Apple will make the same mistake they made in the past (give you no choice), who will save them then?


RE: MAKE THE TABLET GENERIC!!!
By Tony Swash on 8/18/2011 5:15:42 AM , Rating: 1
I just love the 'Apple is doomed' meme - so wholly irrational and evidence free but obviously so very reassuring for many. I think Apple will be twice as big and twice as profitable in two years - what's your prediction?

I think your reductionism misses many things that are very important in understanding Apple's success, here are a few factors you missed, there are others.

Apple has an unequalled reputation for quality and customer service.

Apple has built the world's largest digital products and media store.

Apple has created and deployed the world's most successful retail operation which is growing rapidly.

Apple has consistently honed it's product line to a clinically precise and immensely consumer friendly range of SKUs all wrapped in cohesive branding

Apple is one of the few tech companies with excellent and highly integrated software and hardware skills and products

Apple has always prioritised product design higher than almost any other company

Apple's product line is unusually integrated and coherent

Apple's supply chain is probably the best of any tech manufacturer which translates into quality of components, value for money and in certain key products such as the iPod and iPad significant price advantages.

Apple's cash mountain means it it can buy up critical components in a sort of monopoly of supply strategy.

One could go on but you can see where this is leading. None of the above are accidents or the result of good luck, they are all the result of planning and vision and yet somehow so many see Apple's success as being anomalous or surprising.

And to pick up your argument about games it is worth noting that iOS has three times the number of games as the following platforms combined : NES + Master System + Genesis + SNES + PS1 + Saturn + Xbox + PS2 + Gamecube + Xbox 360 + PS3 + Wii + XNA + XBLA + Gameboy + GBA + DS + PSP.


RE: MAKE THE TABLET GENERIC!!!
By Mitch101 on 8/18/2011 9:16:38 AM , Rating: 2
While you might believe he is immortal.

Apple is one kidney away from disaster.

If you believe Apple will succeed without the tyrannical rant of its leader you need to brush up on your history.


By inperfectdarkness on 8/18/2011 10:24:35 PM , Rating: 2
...and about a BILLION times the shovelware of all those game-systems combined. your point, troll?


RE: MAKE THE TABLET GENERIC!!!
By rsmech on 8/19/2011 12:42:47 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I think Apple will be twice as big and twice as profitable in two years - what's your prediction?


I don't disagree that they will still be doing well in 2 years. You are missing the point. It took them more than 2 years to kill themselves the 1st time. There was nothing but Apple when I was younger. What happened then?

quote:
Apple has an unequalled reputation for quality and customer service.


I'm not going to dispute what you may be calling quality. Are you talking about looks or a phone that loses reception when you touch it wrong? We could go back & forth on quality, Many other mfg. have good quality also. They also have design flaw at times as well as Apple does.

Customer Service. Is this where you are talking about bricking phones, or if I remember correctly wasn't it Apple who sold cutomers laptops with new network hardware that wasn't fomally finalized yet and than when it was charged $10 for the software upgrade to make the hardware they already paid for work with the new standard. Kind of reminds me of when usb 2 came out & it was a standard "free" download with windows.

quote:
Apple has built the world's largest digital products and media store.


I knew many people who didn't want to leave iTune because they would loose all their investments in songs if they switchted. I know there were ways but the average usere didn't know them. Locking them in paid off in spades.

quote:
Apple has created and deployed the world's most successful retail operation which is growing rapidly.


Like I said before they were the king once before, what happened then?

quote:
Apple has consistently honed it's product line to a clinically precise and immensely consumer friendly range of SKUs all wrapped in cohesive branding


Blah, Blah, Blah. sounds like a salesmen.

quote:
Apple is one of the few tech companies with excellent and highly integrated software and hardware skills and products


Exactly. That is the point the previous poster was making also. Another word for "integrated" is "Locked, Closed". It's obvious from the past given a chance the customer wants choices. Luck for Apple the gaming consoles solved one of those choices for the consumer. Apple is learning when it comes to the iphone, consumers have more choices for apps than on the desktop side. But android provides even more choices, who is the consumer choosing now. iphone or Android?

quote:
Apple has always prioritised product design higher than almost any other company


I can buy a windows base pc with better hardware for cheaper, what were you saying?

quote:
Apple's product line is unusually integrated and coherent


My windows mobile device integrated with my work pc right out of the box. Neither the pc or mobile device needed any 3rd party software. How about your iphone?

quote:
Apple's supply chain is probably the best of any tech manufacturer which translates into quality of components, value for money and in certain key products such as the iPod and iPad significant price advantages.


Sounds like they are on the verge of killing their supply chain with Samsung. Also Apple doesn't make their own cpu's, memory, video controllers, network controlers, display screens, you pick the part. Many but not all the parts they use other companies have the same access to or equivalent parts. Again sounding like a salesman.

quote:
Apple's cash mountain means it it can buy up critical components in a sort of monopoly of supply strategy.


Makes them no different than MS, Intel, Google, and others. what's your point, they are not any more special then the others, it's not a plus if your competition can do it to.

quote:
One could go on but you can see where this is leading.


Not really, you haven't even left the starting line. I read a lot of smoke & mirrors and qualities they have in common with their competition. Again I state a major reason a kid doesn't pout when his parents buy an Apple computer is because he has his gaming console.

One thing I will give you that will help Apple is that when I was younger it was the boys that were on the computers more than the girls. For boys it was games which was Apples weakness. Now with social networking and console it really doesn't matter what you own. My main point was to say Apple didn't do it on their own, something filled a hole in Apples line up. (consoles)


RE: MAKE THE TABLET GENERIC!!!
By sleepeeg3 on 8/18/2011 6:51:59 AM , Rating: 2
Agree with everything else you said, but Win8 will be a failure, because MS has no vision. Latest previews show it emphasizing the touchpad trend that Apple marketing has transformed. Unfortunately, that is a ridiculous concept for mouse driven PCs.

Win7 itself is nothing more than a streamlined Vista with unproductive GUI changes. The last smart change they did was Win2K by pulling in the secure, stable NT core into 2K/XP. Office has become bloated and brought us little tangible, but the annoying Ribbon. Windows Mobile/Phone OS was a non-starter. They have just been suckling off their monopolies on OS, business productivity software and Xbox live subscriptions.


RE: MAKE THE TABLET GENERIC!!!
By Reclaimer77 on 8/18/2011 4:27:30 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
but Win8 will be a failure, because MS has no vision.


Windows 7 wasn't, so how is Windows 8 "going to fail"? It's going to make millions and millions, you call that failing?

quote:
The last smart change they did was Win2K by pulling in the secure, stable NT core into 2K/XP.


You don't know what you are talking about if you think this was the "last smart change" Microsoft has done since Win2k. You aren't even a GOOD troll.


RE: MAKE THE TABLET GENERIC!!!
By robinthakur on 8/22/2011 8:15:55 AM , Rating: 2
I think your statement about the iPad dumbing things down reveals that people only used Windows because they felt that they had to. For now people see the iPad as the new PC, in point of fact it virtually defines the phrase personal computer.

Everything changed after the iPhone was released in 2007 and that along with the iPodTouch and iPad define what people see as an interface which is both all around them and easy to use. Next to that, Windows with its pointer based system and pens etc seems as antiquated as trackball and command line to regular people (when I say regular people, I mean people that use computers to accomplish things rather then those that merely play with them) It is really only needed for certain business tasks. For everything else, a finger works fine. Unfortunately, an OS needs to be built from the ground up for touch control, not have it bolted on after the fact.

As you say, PC tablets never sold well. This is either a failure of product or marketing. I remember there was a big fanfare when they first came out but the devices themselves were not very good for either business or the end consumer due to bulky, ugly hardware, poor battery life, and lacking hardware specs. If a big company like MS and all of the other OEM's can't even work out who to target and sell to over a period of 10 years, why would a consumer want to spend more than they would on a regular laptop? For me they were always cool aspirational devices (like the Dell XT) but I would never spend my own money on them. Other than Photoshop and Onenote, not sure what else I would do with them.

Far from the fluffy language used in parts of Apple's marketing, they are actually very clear on what use-cases the iPads are good for. You can browse the web, do email, view photo albums, you can use Garage Band, Pages, Numbers and all the other apps on a device which is cheap compared to a laptop and feels like it came from the future. This is what the consumer wants, and it sells. Business also is made up of people who use the iPad, iphones etc. and they are now filtering through to business far more than some people here would like to imagine. Nobody should be surprised about that, there is no mystery. Microsoft for all their original invention of the Tablet PC model did not keep the momentum going and lacked the vision to take the idea forward.

It was obvious within moments of me using the first iPhone that this was the way touch screen devices should have always been approached. Whilst on paper, the difference between an older HTC resistive touch screen and this new capacative digitiser should have been slight, it made the difference between a usable device and one which felt unresponsive and unreliable. The software was the USP however. That it has taken MS 4 years to almost catch up is a testament both to their inability to know what the consumer wants and for Balmers propensity to do smack talk rather than doing his job, which is to provide strategic leadership. Considering all the money they spend on R&D, one would think they would come up with ideas that would compete with Apple if not blow them out of the water, but they don't seem to be able to bring that to market successfully, other than maybe Kinect.


RE: MAKE THE TABLET GENERIC!!!
By dgingeri on 8/17/2011 1:29:52 PM , Rating: 3
They could just release an optional firmware update that installs Android 3.2. That might make it sell.


By TakinYourPoints on 8/18/2011 4:04:00 AM , Rating: 2
Companies tried this for a decade and it failed. Tight vertical integration with a complete hardware-software stack is a necessity when you want practical high performance in a thin, light, low-power package with extreme battery life.


"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)














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