HP is pushing its new TouchPad tablet in any way it can, including discounts and coupons to its app store. Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.com
HP needs to get its tablet in your hands, and the company is doing everything it can to make that happen.
HP has tried slashing the tablet’s prices. Over the weekend, the company discounted its new tablet by $100 when purchased through HP’s web store and other participating retailers, bringing the price of the TouchPad down to $400 and $500 for the 16GB and 32GB versions, respectively.
HP has tried rebates. The company’s first rebate for early TouchPad adopters — available to those who bought it when it was first released in July — knocked $50 off the tablet’s price.
HP has tried bundled software freebies. At the TouchPad’s launch, the company partnered with Box.net to offer 50GB of free cloud storage, a $240 yearly value.
To some, HP’s actions are those of a desperate company.
“Consumers aren’t buying the TouchPad at the iPad price point, so HP is hoping a lower price will make its tablet look more attractive,” said Forrester research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps in an e-mail. “Cutting prices may cause consumers to buy the TouchPad out of curiosity, but it undermines HP’s efforts to market a premium iPad competitor.”
HP’s webOS platform is the underdog in today’s mobile space. A DigiTimes report expects Apple to take 61 percent of the tablet marketshare in 2011, leaving the remainder up for grabs between the myriad Android tablet manufacturers, BlackBerry PlayBook makers Research in Motion, and HP (and possibly Microsoft, if its Windows Mobile OS comes to tablets any time soon). A veritable David to competing Goliaths Android and iOS, HP has a lot of work to do.
In the company’s most recent effort, it will send out a $50 credit for purchasing apps in HP’s App Catalog to anyone who bought a TouchPad from July 1 to August 4. It’s an attempt to boost support for the webOS catalog from the consumer side. If the company can get enough TouchPad owners to start buying webOS apps, HP may have a good chance at convincing app developers that webOS is worth developing programs for.
The company is also trying to bolster its application ecosystem on the developer side, recently launching the “webOS certified developers program,” essentially a promotional deal for developers who want to get noticed. The program offers referrals and more visibility for the up and coming webOS developer who wouldn’t otherwise get noticed in a very crowded application environment like Apple’s or Google’s.
“We’ve seen great developer interest in the webOS platform from companies big and small,” an HP spokeswoman told Wired.com in a statement. As a result of its developer push, the company expects a boost in apps over the next 12 to 18 months. “We currently have more than 600 TouchPad apps and more than 9,000 total apps in the webOS app catalog,” the spokeswoman said.
For comparison, Apple’s App Store with around half a million apps, and the Android Market with over 250,000 apps.
With the 4G version of the TouchPad coming soon at a pricey $700, we’ll have to wait and see if tablet shoppers are willing to shell out such a hefty chunk of change for a non-iOS tablet. Considering how poor Motorola’s Xoom sales were in the wake of its high starting prices, the outlook doesn’t look so good.