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August 31, 2011

TouchPads for $99: But Wasn't HP Going to Stop Making Them Altogether?

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

After consumers recently stood in lines to jump at the chance to purchase $99 TouchPads, Hewlett-Packard (News - Alert) is going to make an additional round of them – despite the fact the company says it’s leaving the tablet business for good.

The HP tablets had been selling for either $399 or $499. On August 18, HP announced it was changing its focus and would stop making the tablets and some other consumer products.

The low price “ignited an online frenzy and long lines at retailers as bargain-hunters chased down a gadget that had been on store shelves just six weeks,” according to a report from Reuters.

“We have decided to produce one last run of TouchPads to meet unfulfilled demand,” Reuters (News - Alert) quoted the company. “The speed at which it disappeared from inventory has been stunning.”

For example, “Best Buy, which had previously tried to sell their inventory back to HP, had customers lining up to buy the devices,” reported The Christian Science Monitor. “Retailers (before the lower price) had been loath to stock the device as it had a reputation for gathering dust on shelves.”

It’s interesting that HP could lose money on TouchPads during the final production round, Reuters says. IHS (News - Alert) iSuppli's estimates the 32GB version has materials costing $318, Reuters added.

“We don't know exactly when these units will be available or how many we'll get, and we can't promise we'll have enough for everyone. We do know that it will be at least a few weeks before you can purchase,” HP added in blog post quoted by Reuters.

The final round of TouchPads could be available for purchase by the end of October for $100 or $150, The Monitor added.

HP said it will no longer make webOS devices such as the TouchPad. HP may also spin off its PC division. HP also announced it was buying Autonomy (News - Alert). All of that new company direction led HP shares to drop almost 20 percent.

Earlier this year, critics had complained about the TouchPad’s “bugginess, weight and dearth of applications” and how it had fewer apps than the far more successful iPad from Apple, according to TMCnet.

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Ed Silverstein is a TMCnet contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell
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