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By 31 August 2011 | Categories: news

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Despite confirming an end to the end of its TouchPad tablets earlier this month, HP announced today that it would produce one last run of their webOS based tablets to “meet unfulfilled demand.” Strangely, the reason for the decision to terminate the tablet line in the first place was reportedly due to a disappointing lack of demand, with one of the large retailers in the US, Best Buy, reporting that it had 250 000 units which it could not sell. However, the announcement that the tablet would meet an early end prompted a ‘fire sale’, where TouchPads were being sold in some regions for as little as $99 (R700), down from its previous price of $499 (R3500). This sent users scurrying to buy one while they could in record numbers.

Mark Budgell, the social media strategist on HP’s PR team, explained that since the company  announced the price drop, the number of inquiries about the product and the speed at which it disappeared from inventory has been ‘stunning’. “I think it’s safe to say we were pleasantly surprised by the response,” he said. This is not an about turn on the reported decision to cease the line – at least not yet – but rather confirmation that one last batch would be produced. “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,” continued Budgell.

The lingering question though, is how much longevity and support will be offered for webOS moving forward, or whether another product run will simply enable more users to have a device for which no forward development – in software or hardware – is planned? In fact, in the latest statement the company confirmed again that despite the additional hardware run, it would be “discontinuing the development of webOS devices and is winding down device operations in the fourth quarter of 2011.”

At least, that is the current status quo. HP may in fact have a surprise, unintended hit on their hand and may have discovered a secret to selling tablets – if you can’t produce an iPad, then sell your device at a price no one will dare match.

In recent news, Samsung expressed interest in purchasing webOS.


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