HP has plans to produce another round of its TouchPad tablets before the year is out, despite its earlier decision to discontinue its mobile hardware products.
“Despite announcing an end to manufacturing webOS hardware, we have decided to produce one last run of TouchPads to meet unfulfilled demand,” HP spokesman Mark Budgell wrote in a company blog post. “As we know more about how, when, and where TouchPads will be available, we will communicate that here and through e-mail to those who requested notification.”
Budgell says it will be a few weeks before devices from the additional run will be available for purchase.
The blog post signals further confusion from a company in upheaval. Two weeks ago, HP announced suddenly it would end production on all of its mobile hardware, including the soon to be released Pre 3 and Veer smartphones. The decision also included the company’s iPad competitor, the TouchPad, killed off a mere 49 days after its debut in July. Circulating rumors suggested third-party retailers were sitting on hundreds of thousands of unsold stock.
HP followed its announcement by slashing prices on remaining TouchPad inventory, reducing the price of the 16-gigabyte TouchPad to $100, and the 32-gig version to $150.
Since the blowout sale prices, however, the company hasn’t been able to keep any TouchPads in stock. Retailers have been bombarded by customer requests for the cheapened devices, and tens of retailers have reported completely selling out.
Which is most likely the reason behind HP’s decision to once again beef up its inventory for a last TouchPad blast.
“Tablet computing is a segment of the market that’s relevant, absolutely,” HP personal systems group exec Todd Bradley told Reuters in an interview. The company continues to explore licensing options for, webOS — its proprietary operating system — according to Bradley.
There’s no guarantee, however, that HP will continue to sell the last round of tablets at a $100 rate. Hardware teardown web site iSupply speculates that, in terms of components alone, a 16-GB TouchPad costs HP approximately $300 to build. That’s a $200 bath HP is taking on each individual unit sold, not including the cost of labor, shipping and associated expenses.
HP did not immediately respond to a phone request for comment.
While the resurgence in TouchPad interest may be a promising sign for HP, the company’s flip-flopping decision process isn’t serving its public image.
“The only thing I know for sure that’s going on at HP is that they have completely lost control of their message,” said Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps in a statement e-mailed to Wired.com. Epps continued, saying HP was “sabotaging their brand with the mixed messages.”