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Retailers like Best Buy may opt for a "fire sale" on the TouchPad.  (Source: Unwired View)

HP is also looking to dump its profitable consumer PC unit, which is the top U.S. and global seller. HP wants to use the money to buy Autonomy, an even more lucrative enterprise software maker.  (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Company is also contemplating how to dispose of PC unit

The era of webOS is over at Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ).  While some would argue that the decision to kill the struggling lineup of tablet and smartphone devices was premature, HP has made its decision and it's standing behind it.

I. A TouchPad Fire Sale?

But that doesn't change the fact that it has a very big problem on its hands -- $100M USD worth of unsold HP TouchPad tablets.  At $400, that works out to 250,000 unsold units, but some speculate that HP may be taking a smaller per-unit write-off, which could indicate an unsold total as high as 300,000 units.

So what to do with the stock of TouchPads?  Sell them for pennies on the dollar?  Burn them? Bury them in concrete in the desert?

HP says it will be up to its sales partners, which include Best Buy Comp., Inc. (BBY) and Staples, Inc. (SPLS).  It will give them a case payout for the devices, which they can either return to HP or using the cash, sell the stock at fire sale prices.

It's unclear whether any of the big box retails are going to bite on the latter route.  But if they do, the former Palm unit may just have one last gift in store for its fans -- a deeply discounted TouchPad.  Such an offer may even convince some skeptics to partake.  Much like that girl at the bar starts looking better after a couple drinks, the rough edges of the TouchPad may become lovable quirks, if it's offered for, say, $150 USD.

HP and its carrier partners have not yet announced whether they will be conducting a similar program for unsold Pre3 smartphones, which were reportedly in advanced production, but sadly died soon before what would have been its U.S. launch.  Likewise, it must decide what to do with whatever Pre Plus, Pixi Plus, Pre 2, and HP Veer handset stock is sticking around at carriers.

The one word of warning when it comes to buying these devices is to consider that while they'll likely come at great prices, should they be sold, the operating system is unlikely to see significant future work, and likewise the app catalog is unlikely to see many new titles, now that HP has abandoned the platform.

II. HP May Have to Chop up PC Unit to Make it Sellable

In related news, HP's bid to offload its consumer PC unit (which reportedly has to sell seven computers to make as much profit as a single Apple, Inc. (AAPL) machine) is encountering resistance because of the unit's high value.

HP is the world's top seller of personal computers, and the top seller in the U.S., so the company is literally putting the number one position in the market up for bid -- an unusual sight.  Again, the reason why gets back to its dropping profitability -- HP wants to focus on more lucrative business solutions, following in the path of rival International Business Machines Corp. (IBM).

The unit is valued, according to Reuters, at around $10-12B USD.  It makes $38B USD in annual revenue, but only has a 5.7 percent profit margin (around $2.17B USD in annual profit).

Reportedly Taiwan's ASUSTEK Computer, Inc. (TPE:2357) and Acer Inc. (TPE:2353) are interested, but don't have enough cash on hand to fully purchase the whole business.  

Hong Kong-based Lenovo Group, Ltd. (HKG: 0992) has $3.8B USD in cash and a market cap of $45.76B USD, so it could complete a purchase with a mix of approximately 30-40 percent cash and 60-70 percent stock.  South Korea's Samsung Electronics (SEO 005930) also reportedly has a lot of cash on hand and is interested in getting deeper into the world of computers.  The deal could see problems, though, with U.S. antitrust regulators, as Samsung is already in the top two spots in global phone sales.

Whoever HP sells too, it's looking to move relatively fast, avoiding waffling on the transition.  That's bad news for HP's Taiwanese suppliers like Quanta Computer, Inc. (TPE:2382).  Whoever buys HP, they're likely to favor new suppliers -- a general market trend.

HP is looking to use the cash in generates to fund a $11.7B USD bid for London-based Autonomy Corporation Plc. (LON:AU).  Autonomy is one of the world's largest enterprise software companies.



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RE: Love the picture
By MrBlastman on 8/19/2011 12:05:18 PM , Rating: 2
I could have blown that 2 bucks on a box of candy in the movie theater then (going rate at the time) and received more enjoyment out of it than I ever did from ET.


RE: Love the picture
By ClownPuncher on 8/19/2011 12:08:49 PM , Rating: 5
I'd have paid a meth addict $2 to punch me in the throat rather than play ET again.


RE: Love the picture
By JonnyDough on 8/19/2011 1:33:59 PM , Rating: 2
I'll punch you in the throat for $1!


RE: Love the picture
By JonnyDough on 8/19/2011 1:41:23 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, and I am drug and disease free (at least I hope so?)

What a bargain! :D


RE: Love the picture
By ClownPuncher on 8/19/2011 3:35:40 PM , Rating: 2
It loses the charm if you don't have rotten teeth.


RE: Love the picture
By inperfectdarkness on 8/22/2011 10:02:09 PM , Rating: 2
"avoid spilt juice"

/code monkeys


RE: Love the picture
By MrTeal on 8/20/2011 12:38:08 AM , Rating: 2
You don't even have to play ET, the other two made it more than worthwhile.

I don't think I have the system anymore, but I think I still have Star Raiders and the controller along with a few other games in a box somewhere in the basement.


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