Since announcing their plans to quit the mobile hardware business, HP has found themselves frequenting the headlines. They slashed the prices of their remaining webOS devices and have hinted at plans of licensing the software in the not too distant future. Just under two weeks later, we're hearing that they may bring the tablet back as it is a part of a “segment of the market that's relevant.” (Keep in mind that this was only a conjecture from a vague statement from the HP Personal Systems Group head, Todd Bradley.)

Maybe I'm looking at this from the wrong angle, but things just don't seem to add up. Or maybe they're adding up too perfectly to be coincidental. Is there more to this story than HP is letting on?

After cutting the price of their tablets from (the already reduced) $399 for the 16GB and $499 for the 32GB to $99 and $149, respectively, demand for the TouchPad naturally went through the roof. The webOS tablets sold out online in a matter of minutes and just as quickly over the weekend in retail stores. Some online stores oversold their stock and experienced a rather degrading backlash from angry, TouchPad-crazed customers. Forums, Facebook pages and even our comments section turned into designated war zones. In a way, it was like an online rendition of "Jingle All The Way," except without the Schwarzenegger and that cheesy comic book hero, Turbo Man. (Oh, how I miss the 90s.)

Although Mark Budgell from HP's blog says they were “pleasantly surprised” by the “number of inquiries about the product,” I'm beginning to believe this is what they wanted all along. Mass hysteria. I find it hard to believe that HP didn't expect a mad rush when they dropped the price of their tablets to $99 and $149. The specs were there all along – they challenge those of most high-end Android tablets and the iPad 2. (And boy do those speakers thump!) But at the original price, it made much more sense to buy a tablet with more widely-supported software and a half-decent selection of apps. Not to mention the device itself is rather chunky and heavy. But all of that becomes negligible when the thing only costs $99.

No. HP knew this would happen. It had to be part of an evil plot and everything is falling perfectly into place.

Apple's iPad launched back in April of 2010. Ever since, they have completely dominated the tablet market. Despite the attempts from their counterparts, which have often come at a more wallet-friendly price, the iPad still controls the tablet market share by a rather large margin and is expected to do so for the next nine years. (Yeah … right.)

But now, webOS is on the map. Those who wouldn't have normally bought a tablet quickly snagged one to call their own. Whether they were buying it because they just wanted one but couldn't justify the large price tag from before or simply to load Android on it doesn't matter. Buyers, who never would have given webOS a chance in the first place, have now spent some much-needed hands-on time with HP's software. I'm sure that's well worth it to HP, despite the mountains of money they've lost on the deal. They have successfully immersed the market by selling their products at drastically reduced prices, and by doing so they've earned both mind share and market share – two things they've struggled with in the past.

Now HP is going to continue manufacturing the tablets, at least until the end of their fourth fiscal quarter 2011, possibly longer. And wanting buyers are squatting on their site, hitting F5 every few seconds, hoping the tablet will open for sale again. It's shady, dirty and sleazy. But it has worked.

To be honest, this is something that crossed my mind just hours after I read HP's big announcement. But I wrote it off as another one of my crackpot theories. However, as more information unfolds and HP's future plans change with the wind, the more I begin to believe they did have alternate intentions. What say you? Am I losing it? Or do you think this was HP's plan all along, too? How will other manufacturers react to this? (I'm sure they've already lawyered up.)

Don't forget to VOTE! Each week, PhoneDog Fans vote for their #1 smartphone in the Official Smartphone Rankings. Vote now and contribute to the industry's most relevant weekly ranking charts

Products mentioned in this Article

eBay prices for the HP TouchPad 16GB

Related posts

Comments & discussions  

49 Reactions to this post

"Did HP deliberately create a "fire sale" behind the TouchPad to drive webOS growth?"

Please limit your reaction to 140 characters or use comments for a longer reply :)
Thanks for your participation! :)

Adan Soriano Who cares about webOS, CM7 is soon to be flashable.
Tony Abiama Yea if they can get apps on this thing it will be a sure winner, and the apps I've seen already on this device are pretty nice. I want the dev community to get their hands all over this and turn this into something big.
Brian Kelly WebOS is a superior OS. Needs apps tho
Anthony Peña So when does this tab go on sale?
Sergio Nayar "dumping" is the key word here... Microsoft, Sony and many others have done it for years and they survived. HP should have done the same but they overreacted.
Javier Segura I would get rather get a Moto Xoom just so I can side load WebOS on it cause Honey Comb is absolute crap.
Brian Edwards Possible. Though I want one to put android on it.... :-)
David Brand Cyanogen is already working on a version of android for the touchpad.....webOS is dead....if samsung dumps android for it, as is rumored, they will go the way of nokia and windows phone7...aka nowhere
Peggy Coe Brooks Yes it's very possible they did, or just as likely made a very rash decision. I think webOS gets a bad rap. It's open source and meant to be tweaked and optimized. Pre Central is webOS owners best friend, use it people. A little research and effort will help its peformance immensely. Granted it should have been shipped that way but it wasn't so we have to do it ourselves. For $99 you won't get a better internet tablet anywhere. Now if we can just get the Devs to take a serious internest in webOS, it has sooo much potential.
Anthony Douglas If they did that was a genius idea by their marketing dept :)
Tony Abiama Well I got me a Touchpad, still waiting for it to be delivered...can't wait.
Jan Michael Cruz Looks that way. Brilliant strategy though, get the attention of consumers and then relaunch or release a touchpad 2, 300bucks.
Cole Mastin Just said this on monday not that the sold all thise units it may drive people to actually want a webos phone or hp computer.....i think it was a smart idea
Tony Correa I think it's going to be the same story as the pc the pc was cheaper than a Mac so many prefered going to a pc even though they were getting alotof there ideas from apple
Abram Wenevermet Dennis It doesn't matter..all they did was drive the value of thier tablet down now no ones going 2 pay more than $100 for one..smh
Nadim Uddin In a word, YES!
Nick Kathrein If only if that was true.
Ryan DeClue This was an extreme marketing plan. Bit of a con if you will, to get webOS into as many hands as possible. I say good move HP!!!
Seaedge Val that is part of their matter how they market WebOS.. it will never beat android and iOS at this stage.. reducing price is one of the most effective way. but reducing means they are telling the world that their webOS are not selling as they claimed before this. So they came out with an excuse that they are discontinuing the division - which such decision can be revoked anytime...(imo) or they could be just doing some updates for them to have that webOS experience first.. then hope that there is enough demand for webOS to make a comeback..
Erik Fernandez I dint have a touchpad :-( I had to work the day of the sale. Well anyway webOS is the best operating system out, get that app catalog up and then the masses will see my point. WebOS lives
Sim Floyd Jr No. Why would they need to say they were getting rid of the Touchpad if that were true? Just drop the price.
Kevin Schomer cant put android on it right now
David Brand I was tryin to get one but only to put android on it
Ali Khan I hope it was their strategy indeed... and they continue webOs with full support...
Wood Franklin Companies spend crap load of cash to advertise maybe it was one of their strategies.
Tham Ye Yang Omg I love HP
Michael Breeze This was definitly a back up plan for HP... Companies don't bring on fire sales at a moments notice.... This might work for HP now that this tablet is in the hands of more users and devs will start supporting it while users become more familiar for it... Making an ass kicking 2nd generation touchpad... For now, eventhough its $99 its STILL a thick heavy plastic finger print collecting, sluggish web-browsing, small app store device
Hansel Starley LOL yeah right, those guys are too incompetent to have that kind of vision. Most webOS owners are migrating to other IOS.
Jeff Berman My guess is- Amazon tablet will incorporate a similar business model & webos will be sold to another company - possibly Samsung once the millionth webos tablet is sold (at a loss)
Jeff Berman I honestly do not think any of this was planned. HP has miscalculated everything & been mismanaged for years now. Even now- they seem directionless. Ultimately- I think HP accidentally stumbled across the recipie for gaining marketshare vs Apple...battle on pricepoint & absorb the $ loss. Too bad it wasn't part of their tablet business model early on!
Jamal Williams Idk but I want one.....NOW!!
Danielle Elaine Tripp Honestly I don't think any of the tablets r worth $500. That's more than a laptop or now a home computer! And it doesn't even do all the things a computer does.
Gordon Christie Yes it was all planned by steve jobs and bill gates
Tizoc Alarcon Actually I bet it doesn't cost them a penny to produce because company's pay hp to put their bloat ware on the touchpad and in the end the make money off selling them for 99 and 199... same goes for pc's
Anthony Mazzotta Those touchpads cost a estimated 306.00 for hp to produce... I'm sure they are loving that they are selling them for 99, & 199...:/
Joshua Castro But of course! !!!!!!!
Jesse Huertas I think they're overreacting to lack of sales...why would retailers sell a device that is the same price of the iPad but less the performance? It'll come back within the buyers remorse period and the company loses out. I was able to snag an HP because at 100 bucks, you can't beat it and that was their problem. An underperforming product at a premium price. They should have had like a one weekend firesale per se, dropping the price to 99 or 199 and then put the price back up like a 100 bucks and keep it level for 199 for th 16gb and 299 for the 32gb. It would still be good value for a consumer and get devs working on it since their potential just increased for revenue.
Michael A. Barut Just shows that at the right price, you don't really need to get an iPad
Denn Pablo Im thinking the same idea
Nathan Elcoate Of course, that's why they are back in production, d'ah!
Ayoub Hage Valid point phonedog.
Bill Gillespie hp should drop webos and put honeycomb on it now
Alick Lee same as both above and when i finally get one from staples
CeeGii Borels slap android on it and im good to go
Fionn McGinley Ditto, WebOS is nice but has shag all support from devs
David Kimberlin same plan Ervin ;)
Ernest Marvin Esteban i just want honeycomb on it

Most popular Videos
Most popular Videos
Most popular Videos

Most popular Reactions
Most popular Reactions
Most popular Reactions

This weeks "People's Choice Rankings" best smartphones
People's Choice Rankings

See all hot devices