If you’ve checked in with technology trends at all in the past week, you’ve probably noticed the huge blow up surrounding the HP TouchPad. Within the span of just six weeks, this little tablet has gone from shiny, new toy, to discontinued, to every techie’s must-have.
What in the world has HP done to generate so much buzz? Let’s recap.
I own an iPod Touch and an iPhone. I love Apple products with touch screens. Actually, I love anything with a touch screen. I practically salivate over the thought of one day saving enough pennies to afford an iPad. And yes, it has a whole lot to do with Star Trek’s handheld PADDs.
Four Weeks Ago:
I saw commercials for the HP TouchPad featuring comedian Russell Brand and actress Lea Michele. The fact that Lea Michele was singing about it was enough to sell me on the tablet. Score one for HP’s marketing department.
I didn’t have the money for either model, but I decided to research it anyway. I was instantly drawn to the app “stacking” feature, dual core processor, and large screen. For once, I wanted a non-Apple handheld device. But the fact that it was still just as expensive as an iPad kept me from doing anything more than want.
Two Weeks Ago:
HP announced that they would permanently cut the prices on their TouchPads by $100: a lower price than the iPad. But, I still don’t have $400 to spend on the 16GB model.
One Week Ago:
HP realizes that they haven’t sold that many TouchPads, and faster than you can say Polaroid, they decide that it’s time they discontinue their short-lived tablet. I kept hoping that HP would just keep clipping off $100 here and there and soon I’d be able to afford the 16GB version at around $200 or $250.
I mourned in my cubicle.
While I assumed that the HP TouchPad was dead and retailers would soon start peddling the unsold models for scrap, apparently HP had a different idea. HP dropped their tablet prices to $99 for 16GB and $149 for 32GB and instantly started a craze that hasn’t been seen since the Tickle Me Elmo debacle of ’96.
Of course, I didn’t stumble onto this discovery until an hour or so after HP’s fire sale. Desperate to get my hands on one of these cheap tablets, I scoured the internet until I found that Newegg.com still had stock. I called their customer service line and was told that Newegg’s management was still deciding whether they would drop their prices or not. I spent the rest of my weekend reloading the product page on my iPhone browser.
I made peace with the fact that an HP TouchPad would never be mine. So to focus my lamenting, I decided to research the phenomenon for a blog about pricing or supply and demand.
I found that there were still retailers sitting on their stock: they hadn’t shipped it back to HP, but they hadn’t cut the price either. PC World had a few suggestions for where to look, but many sites said to just search #touchpad on Twitter.
The Twitter search worked and directed me to TigerDirect.com. I opened up the site in multiple browsers and desperately willed the product pages to load. After countless error messages, time outs, and all-out denials, I finally had an order process for a 32GB TouchPad.
I was excited, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. The Twitter stream for #touchpad was full of disgruntled customers that received order confirmations from Barnes & Noble and UK retailers, only to find out 16 hours later that there wasn’t enough stock.
But then, the next morning, I awoke to the beautiful e-mail:
It shipped. It’s going to be mine. The long process of waiting, mourning, and refreshing is over.
But Mandy, now I need it!
For those of you still looking to get your hands on an HP TouchPad, I really wish that I had insider information. I’m well aware that my acquisition of the TouchPad is sheer and utter luck. All I can offer is searching for #touchpad on Twitter and frequently checking on the official HP store.
HP claims to be releasing more tablets for sale this week. This is because many retailers decided to ship their stock back to HP for distribution instead of dealing with the fire sale hot mess themselves. And really, who could blame them?
What now for the TouchPad?
Some are calling for HP to continue manufacturing the tablet, saying that if they find the right price point, they could create actual competition with Apple; some are toasting to Apple’s continued success; and some couldn’t care less.
One thing’s for sure: consumers want access to low-cost, high-quality tablets. So once somebody figures out how to provide that, Apple might see some real rivalry on the tablet market. Well, not if they sue the competition first.
Did you get swept up in the HP TouchPad madness? Are you interested in owning a tablet? If so, are you considering anything but an iPad?