After the fire sale that saw Hewlett-Packard's TouchPad tablet sell out for $99 in August, the device is making its way to Best Buy store shelves once again. Best Buy will begin selling the TouchPad online Tuesday and in stores Friday.
The difference is, the discount isn't as deep this time around and it comes with a string attached. Best Buy is selling a 32 GB TouchPad for $149 -- but consumers have to buy an HP or Compaq notebook or desktop PC in order to get the deal.
Consumers who just want the TouchPad will pay $599.99. Best Buy warned that quantities would be limited. HP is not selling the tablet on its own Web site.
Revitalizing PC Business
"HP is trying to get people to start buying its computers again because everybody stopped," said Michael Disabato, managing vice president of network and telecom at Gartner.
Enterprises in particular were hesitant to purchase HP or Compaq machines because HP was considering spinning off or selling its PC business. Enterprises were concerned about buying into machines for which the company may or may not provide support. But news emerged late last week that HP had decided to hold on to its Personal Systems Group.
"HP objectively evaluated the strategic, financial and operational impact of spinning off PSG. It's clear after our analysis that keeping PSG within HP is right for customers and partners, right for shareholders, and right for employees," said Meg Whitman, the new HP president and CEO. "HP is committed to PSG, and together we are stronger."
A strategic review involved subject-matter experts from across the businesses and functions. Beyond the contributions the PC unit makes to HP's solutions portfolio and overall brand value, the study showed that the cost to recreate these in a standalone company outweighed any benefits of separation. HP is still the leading manufacturer of personal computers globally, with revenues totaling $40.7 billion in 2010.
Where Are the Apps?
The TouchPad, however, is still on the chopping block. The TouchPad seemed doomed from the beginning. Early reviews of the product, which debuted on July 1, were mixed. Some said HP released the TouchPad too early. Others called its performance sluggish. Still others said there weren't enough apps in HP's app store to compete.
"I'll still ask the question, where are the apps?" Disabato asked. "Samsung's Galaxy Tab is the only tablet that has offered any real competition for the iPad, which is why I think Apple tried to kill it off."
On the upside, the multitasking was a hit, the webOS implementation is finding praise, and the hardware is getting a nod. It didn't sell well at $499, but at $99 it seemed like a basement bargain to tens of thousands. It remains to be seen how well the TouchPad will sell with the PC strings attached, especially with Research In Motion's offer of buy two, get one free for the BlackBerry PlayBook.