Duncan Bell: What the HP TouchPad has taught us

T3's operations editor, resident podcaster and T3 magazine columnist Duncan Bell reveals what the tech world could learn from the demise of the HP TouchPad and its recent £90 giveaway  

As someone who likes to be proved right, the death of the HP TouchPad has been a godsend. The riots in Hackney, which is what this column was originally going to be about, have caused a lot of my more smug chums from that part of the world to stop banging on about how fast their house values are shooting up – apt phrase that, for Hackney, “shooting up”.

HP’s move could be said to show how, in the tech world, situations change with the speed of a man sprinting out of Comet with a plasma screen under his arm. I’d say that its decision to get out of the murderously low-margin world of hardware wasn’t a shock at all.

HP has, for years, put out very dull devices that work well but which nobody particularly craves. Generally, these have been printers, and the type of laptops that your IT department likes to inflict upon you. Then, like a middle-aged accountant who suddenly starts weeping at work, before quitting to form a rock band and experiment with bisexuality, HP decided it was going to make a tablet.

A lot of tech bloggers/commentators/whatever got very excited about this, as it was going to use Palm’s webOS. Android tablets somehow hadn’t quite put a dent in iPad sales, but surely this was going to do it. Wasn’t it?

Well, let’s step back and examine that thought for a second, shall we? Here was an operating system that had failed commercially in its first incarnation, in Palm phones, being used in a piece of hardware that looked like an Etch-A-Sketch. And here’s the real killer: it was priced exactly the same as Apple’s iPad 2.

The fact is, that for most punters, whether tech-savvy or “casual”, tablet choice is a nobrainer. They walk in to a store or log on, and are confronted by the runaway market leader with bajillions of apps they’ve used or read about, and a bunch of similar-looking devices, including one – the TouchPad – that has about three apps, at the same price. Some choice.

As a result, the TouchPad sold in the hundreds. You could almost say that HP couldn’t give them away, but a price-plummet to £90 proved that, in fact, they could.

This story has a good ending, then. A lot of punters get a cheap tablet – and look out for even cheaper ones as unimaginative impulse buyers flood eBay with them in a few months – webOS lives on, for people on tech blogs (and absolutely nowhere else in the universe, anywhere) to frot over, and HP can get back to what it does best: something unfathomably dull to do with business. Happy days.

You can hear more from Duncan Bell on the T3 Podcast each week, which is available here and via Apple iTunes

 

Comments

Be the first to comment…

Back to top
Close
T3 Newsletter
Sign up to recieve the T3 newsletters by entering your details below

Your Details

As you're registering with us. we'd like to think that you'd enjoy receiving the following emails; if you'd rather not receive them, please untick the boxes:

I would like to receive other emails from T3, Future Publishing Limited and it's group companies containing news, special offers and product information
I agree to the terms of use and privacy policy and confirm that I am over 16 years of age *
Close
Log in or Join

By clicking below you agree to our terms and conditions and our privacy policy

Log in to T3.com with your preferred social network

Log in with your T3.com account

CloseJoinPlease complete these additional details

Join T3.com with your preferred social network

OR

Join T3.com

Please tick this box to confirm you are 16 years old or over

Just so we know you're human

Newsletters

I would like to receive T3 email newsletters, packed full of the latest tech news, competitions and exclusive offers.

I would like to receive other emails from T3, Future Publishing Limited and its group companies containing news, special offers and product information.

I would like to receive offers from carefully selected third Parties. We will not share your data with the third party.

Close Edit your profile

Change your password

Newsletters

I would like to receive T3 email newsletters, packed full of the latest tech news, competitions and exclusive offers.

I would like to receive other emails from T3, Future Publishing Limited and its group companies containing news, special offers and product information.

I would like to receive offers from carefully selected third Parties. We will not share your data with the third party.

Social networks

You have authorised these social networks to interact with your T3.com account.

Please ensure you deactivate or revoke access to this website from within your social networks settings to ensure all permissions are removed.

Close Forgotten your password

Forgotten your password?

Please enter the email address that you used to sign up and we'll send you a new password

Close
Forgotten password
Don't have a T3 Account? Join now