Talking tech since 2003

A couple of weeks back HP dropped the prices of their TouchPad tablets – previously adapted to the same price points as the Apple iPad line – by $100 throughout, moving the baseline 16gb model down to a respectable $399.  At the time I thought this was an absolutely fantastic move for HP, because even though the company wasn’t able to compete with the iPad (and a lot of other tablets in the rather saturated market) in terms of features the cut in price (albeit a cut in pure profit as well) gave users a solid reason to look at the TouchPad; something that I honestly don’t feel they had before.

But as I’m sure you’ve heard, HP recently made a pretty stunning announcement that they were intent on removing themselves from the mobile industry, and as reports have also speculated, the larger hardware industry altogether.  And now that the company is looking to root itself into the software industry HP has taken a number of steps to tie up their loose ends in the hardware sector.  One of the ways that HP has opted to go about doing this has been the liquidation of already-produced TouchPad tablets.  Having been rumored to only have sold 25,000 TouchPads through BestBuy five days ago, the liquidation of TouchPads has attracted new attention to a product that previously had next to no traction in the mobile industry.  But why is this?  Instead of cutting prices by $100 as we saw HP do the first time around, this new move on HP’s part has dropped the prices of baseline (16gb) TouchPads to $100 with the 32gb model priced at a still incredibly low $149.

Seeing as how I praised HP for cutting the cost of the TouchPad a couple of weeks ago, I guess it would be fair to assume that I was impressed with this latest deal as well.  But the fact of the matter is that even at the $99/$149 price points the HP TouchPad is a discontinued item and really isn’t worth the money, as low as the price tag may be.  Quite honestly, when the TouchPad dropped to $399 I almost bought one myself.  After all, the device did seem pretty sweet and webOS really did appeal to me.  But now after everything has been said and done, I simply don’t want a TouchPad even though I was entirely willing to buy one for four times the price just a week ago.

Why is this?  Do I have something against good deals?  Absolutely not.  I just have things against discontinued products.

You see, even though the hardware that the TouchPad sports is pretty competitive with respect to a lot of the tablets on the market right now, HP’s new venture in software doesn’t include maintaining, updating, patching, or improving on their webOS platform.  What this means is that anyone who buys a TouchPad is buying a device that HP is going to let become outdated.  So while $99 (or $149) may seem like a great deal right now, I really think that the value of a TouchPad is going to diminish rather quickly as the operating system slowly fades away.

Worse yet, the fact that HP is more or less killing webOS (or at best won’t be putting much effort into it) makes it a poor investment for developers.  I mean, how much effort do you think any reputable developer is going to want to put into creating, bug testing, repairing, or maintaining applications for a device or operating system that has no potential for growth?

Sure, I guess that even without considering webOS the TouchPad is still a decent deal.  There are people actively working to get Android OS running on the TouchPad, and if users are willing to invest the effort in getting the more widely supported OS running on their good-deal hardware I presume that they’ll do pretty well.  But at that, getting Android working on TouchPad is nothing more than a hobbyist project in my eyes (much like the more looked-down upon Hackintosh and OSX86 projects) and surely won’t come without its issues and instabilities.  My point?  webOS is going downhill and anyone looking to get an Android tablet for anything more than playing around with should really just look at getting a native Android device.  So where does that leave everyone else?  Stuck with a pointless and soon to be outdated tablet.

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