Zombie Tablet: Reports of HP TouchPad’s Death Have Been Somewhat Exaggerated

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Apparently brands aren’t just being pitched by zombies — they’re also becoming zombies themselves. 

Hewlett-Packard’s TouchPad, part of a growing segment of the tablet computer market known as “not the iPad,” was discontinued on August 18, a mere seven weeks after its US release on July 1. But like many a second-guessing mad scientist, HP decided to recall its creation from Gadget Heaven, where it was contentedly playing an Atari 2600 with a Sony Betamax. Now comes word that the TouchPad is returning, for a “limited” run. Walk, don’t run — it’s alive!

The TouchPad, which runs HP’s Linux-based webOS operating system, launched to mixed reviews and didn’t sell very well during its initial run. Maybe it was the iPad-territory price tag. It could have been that the iPad-averse were more interested in Android products. Perhaps it was all Russell Brand’s fault. But once HP gave up and slashed the price of its remaining inventory to $99, the tablet became as coveted as the former loser at the conclusion of any 1980s zero-to-hero high school comedy.[more]

Of course, if this were a movie, the kid’s surge in popularity wouldn’t be due to working out, a makeover, or showing the world that nerds are people too, but because his dad simply bribed the neighborhood. It’s as if a high-level executive at HP, which is having a year that the Wall Street Journal has already classified as “disastrous,” seems to have read the sales reports and declared, “If they’re in such high demand at 99 bucks, then dammit, let’s keep selling them for 99 bucks!” 

Never mind that the price represents what the Journal estimates as a loss of two dollars for every dollar earned. One pundit says that the move actually does make better financial sense — even if “it makes HP look like it doesn’t know what it’s doing” – than letting the existing TouchPad components compete with Atari 2600 E.T. cartridges for landfill space. Another believes that HP is looking to sell off the webOS, which wouldn’t court as high a price if the company shuts down one of its own webOS products.

So what we have is a tablet that (arguably) does what an iPad can (sort of) do, running an OS that is number three at best and which will likely be abandoned by the company that made the tablet, and which will likely be discontinued again once supplies run out.

On the other hand, it’s a tablet that costs $99. Some lady recently spent almost twice that for an iPad made of wood. And those Betamax tapes will still play. Somewhere.

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