Posted By RichC on August 17, 2011
From the start, it wasn’t that hard to predict a slow go for HP in releasing their Touchpad. As a Palm Pre webOS user and sometimes enthusiast, the slow-motion releases in handset, webOS and tablet products have left existing users wanting and contemplating buyers asking “Why?” Couple that with the largest users base (Sprint) feeling ignored after HP acquired Palm … there isn’t even the built in first day release buzz to give HP’s new products free word of mouth advertising. I’m unsure who to blame for the Sprint/HP fallout, but the fact that original Pre webOS buyers don’t have a path or reason to buy a Touchpad “if a new webOS Palm Pre3 phone isn’t in their future.”
As an unhappy HPQ shareholder, heads should roll over the blunder that didn’t capitalized on the existing chunk of Sprint webOS users when releasing the Touchpad. Although I still like and use my first generation Palm Pre, I see little reason to be encouraged that HP management is currently on the right track with their webOS devices and carrier support. (perhaps I’m just a bitter Sprint Palm Pre user seeing a “roadway ends here” sign)
There’s an unsettling truth in the HP TouchPad price drop that we have to face: HP wouldn’t have dropped the price if the tablet was selling well as it was priced. A new report by Arik Hesseldahl of AllThingsD laid bare what we have long (for six weeks) suspected: the TouchPad isn’t selling as well as HP or any of their retail partners would have liked.
Staples saw a lot of success with their TouchPad $200-off sale, but it’s likely they only had a few in stock to begin with. A better barometer might be Best Buy, who has been selling the TouchPad at full price since launch. According to Hesseldahl’s report, Best Buy was sent 270,000 TouchPads by HP, and they’ve only managed to sell 25,000 of them (a number that another source said might be “charitable”). Does that seem like an unreasonable number? Recall the Woot sale of the TouchPad: they sold 612 at $120 off. Woot usually pushes thousands of any one item, HP computers included.
Best Buy is reportedly so livid about the sales of the TouchPad that they’re refusing to pay for all of them, instead insisting that HP take them back. A high-level HP executive is supposedly going to be meeting in person with these angered Best Buy executives to smooth things over, but when you’ve got masses of unsold inventory on hand, we can’t imagine that will be a very friendly chat.
HP reports their quarterly earnings tomorrow, and if these numbers are true, we expect that they will remain mum on the exact number of TouchPads actually sold.