Things keep looking more and more glum for Hewlett-Packard’s (HP) TouchPad. Best Buy has had such a hard time selling the poor devices that they’re apparently requesting that HP take them back:
According to one source who has seen internal HP reports, Best Buy has taken delivery of 270,000 TouchPads and has so far managed to sell only 25,000, or less than 10 percent of the units in its inventory.
Best Buy, sources tell us, is so unhappy that it has told HP it is unwilling to pay for all the TouchPads taking up expensive space in its stores and warehouses, and wants HP to take them back. HP, for its part, is pleading with Best Buy to be patient. We’re also told that a senior HP executive, possibly executive VP Todd Bradley, is slated to travel to Minneapolis soon to discuss the matter with Best Buy executives.
Sadly, I’m not surprised. WebOS seems destined to be the operating system that has many great features but is doomed to failure by poor hardware and lack of polish. I managed to handle a TouchPad some time back at Best Buy and I wasn’t impressed. HP is coming into the tablet game late meaning they need to find some way of persuading customers into buying their new tablet instead of the already established devices released by their competitors.
The TouchPad was originally released with the same price tag as the iPad, a move which I said was rather stupid. Apple is able to sell their iPad at that price because they already have market recognition (people want them) and their devices generally are very well built and polished to an almost mirror shine. Companies releasing Android tablets are able to sell their devices because many people dislike iOS and/or Apple causing them to look elsewhere. On top of that Android has a lot of great features that separate it from iOS (it’s open source nature being a big boon for those who like to tinker and hack). As Android is free manufacturers can also create some very reasonably priced devices.
The TouchPad on the other hand lacks polish in many regards. First the device feels cheaply built with everything being made of plastic. Second WebOS 3.0 is buggy and includes some rather glaring problems that any quality assurance team should have caught before release. Battery life on the TouchPad isn’t great, coming in at roughly half the battery life of the iPad. Another problem is WebOS isn’t open which doesn’t help attract attention to the hacker crowd who are always looking for an OS they can add functionality to and improve (although there is a strong hacker community around WebOS, it’s not nearly as strong as Android’s). Thus the only other factor HP could hope to compete on is price, which they failed miserably at by setting the price at the same level as the iPad.
HP flubbed the TouchPad in every way, shape, and form so it’s not surprising to see that it’s not selling well. I would go so far as to say the TouchPad is a great lesson for other manufacturers to learn from, how not to release a new device.