Opinions & Thoughts.

HP TouchPad Fire Sale is GOOD for Android Tablets


Last night I joined the vultures in picking off a discounted 32GB TouchPad from HP’s bones. It was a deal too good to pass up but I still felt bad about HP’s situation. Ultimately though I think there is a silver lining to come from this fire sale that could help Android this coming fall.

It was a rather sad and tumultuous week in technology that saw HP announce it’s retreat from the computer making business and ending the life of webOS in mobile and tablet hardware. The webOS platform itself is now in an undetermined limbo.

According to a friend at HP, his Palm colleagues were completely taken by surprised and stunned by these turn of events. It was a bombshell for everyone that follows the mobile technology space.

As a result, HP’s flagship tablet device the TouchPad are officially now at liquidation prices after only weeks on store shelves. Amazingly, the JooJoo lasted longer in the market place than the TouchPad.

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HP’s tablet commercials are still running advertising pricing at $499, but TouchPads can now be obtained at 70% less of that price. The firesale touched off a frenetic search on Twitter and deal forums such as SlickDeals for the $99 and $150 tablets at 16GB and 32GB respectively.

Electronic retailers that have TouchPads in stock are either sending them back to HP or honoring the discounted firesale price. It looks like TouchPads are finding homes after all.

So how can this be good for Android?

While it appears that HP is capitulating to Apple, which is true, what you cannot say is that this is a rejection of the future of a non-iOS tablet product. It is a setback but one that can yield promising results for the next batch of Android Tablets, especially this fall with the coming of Ice Cream Sandwich.

Good data on a competitive price point

Like myself, many people are finding the $99 and $150 price too good to pass up. While not sustainable to put out a product at that price, it should provide good data on a price point that can contend with Apple’s iPad. It has been pointed out before in tech press that previous tablets before the TouchPad, like the Xoom, have come to the market at too high a price to compete for market share with iPad. The TouchPad fire sale should be an indication that pricing can be an effective strategy in launching the next line of Android tablets if a company can handle it’s product being somewhat of a loss-leader.

Getting more non-iOS tablets in the hands of the public

Many people have yet to own any tablet at all so this is a great opportunity to get more consumers into the tablet space in general. The TouchPad fire sale also will enable more introductions to a non-iOS tablet. If more people are first getting to know tablets not through iPad, this will give Android more of a chance for consideration by future Tablet consumers. As more people see their friends using tablets other than iPad, alternatives have a chance to enter the mainstream.

Homebrew community bringing Android to TouchPad 

It’s already been reported that home developers have ported Android Honeycomb to the TouchPad so there’s a chance that more consumers will be able to transform their fire sale purchases to Android Tablets. The webOS homebrew community is already strong as is the Android developer community so the pairing and energy behind supporting the TouchPad can lead to some interesting outcomes. The TouchPad at $99 can allow developers a cheap option for entering into the tablet development space.

While it is sad to see a company suffer misfortunes, it is the nature of business. Hopefully with HP reversing course on webOS, it can spark continued innovation in Android and more parity and competition in the tablet market overall.

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