This time, according to a Best Buy press release, a 32-gigabyte TouchPad is going for $149 with the purchase of an HP or Compaq-branded notebook or desktop PC. Sold separately, the price jumps to $599.99.
By bundling the TouchPad with PCs at its biggest retail partner, HP is giving itself an arguable edge against Acer Dell and Toshiba in what is sure to be a cutthroat holiday season for PC and tablet sales. After about a month on the market, and before the product wound up on the chopping block, Best Buy was able to sell less than 10 percent of the 270,000 TouchPads it had in inventory.
It’s hard to know how long the deal can last. Sources familiar with HP’s build plans say the initial TouchPad order was for between 1.8 million and 2 million units, though a third source disputed that number without elaborating. Regardless of the number ordered, sources familiar with the deal say that HP’s decision to kill the product had no immediate effect on the build plans, as components had already been purchased, and manufacturing was already underway. A source familiar with the matter says the manufacturer is Taiwan-based Inventec, not Compal, as has been previously reported. HP was contractually obligated to take delivery on the remaining units in the pipeline.
That makes the TouchPad is now officially a loss leader. As an IHS iSuppli teardown analysis in August showed, HP’s cost to build a 32-gig TouchPad is $328.65. At $149.99, HP takes a paper loss of more than $178 per unit.
Whatever happens, this is probably the last hurrah for the TouchPad, for real this time. That is unless no one takes advantage of the offer to buy one along with a PC. Any stock left over after the holiday season rush will probably wind up in Best Buy’s equivalent of the bargain bin.