HP Blows Through Final TouchPad Stock On eBay
HP sold the last of its TouchPad tablet stock through a firesale that nearly broke eBay. Was demand sparked by HP's open sourcing of webOS?
Only those with a hair-trigger finger were able to score HP's $99 and $149 TouchPad tablets, which went on sale at 7 p.m. (ET) Sunday evening on eBay. The cheaper 16-GB model (mostly refurbished units) was scooped up within minutes, and it didn't take the 32-GB model long to sell out, either. Together, the sale lasted all of 25 minutes, based on the start/end times for the auction.
According to official numbers, there weren't that many TouchPads available to begin with. In fact, the total is rather pathetic. eBay shows that 2,316 of the $99 16-GB TouchPads and 5,534 of the $149 32-GB models were sold. That's a total of just 7,850 units. (You may remember that HP held a firesale for the TouchPad back in August. Demand for the TouchPad at $99 was so much that HP ordered another production run.)
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Buyers acted so feverishly Sunday that eBay's website ran very slow during the sale. PayPal crumbled under the strain, firing off error messages when it was unable to complete transactions.
[ Are you ready for the flood of employee-owned devices soon coming to your network? IBM Equips IT To Welcome Holiday iPads. ]
Who bought the discontinued tablet? Holiday gift shoppers likely made up some of those eager buyers. The $99 price point is certainly attractive to those who simply want a Web-surfing and email-browsing machine. (Given the limited supply of applications for webOS, TouchPad users won't be able to do much more than that.) It wouldn't be surprising, however, if developers, coders, and tinkerers made up a significant portion of those purchasing the TouchPad.
On Friday, HP's CEO Meg Whitman announced that the company plans to release webOS--the platform on which the TouchPad is based--to the open source community. This means that HP is making the code available to anyone who wants it. While we can argue whether or not this is a different kind of death sentence or a reprieve from the executioner, the idea of having a cheap tablet and the code to write for it surely appeals to many.
What makes the situation even more interesting is that Whitman indicated in several press interviews Friday that the company is open to making webOS-based tablets again, though probably not until 2013.
When asked during an interview with The Verge if HP will use webOS in future hardware, Whitman responded. "The answer to that is yes but what I can't tell you is whether that will be in 2012 or not. But we will use webOS in new hardware, but it's just going to take us a little longer to reorganize the team in a quite different direction than we've been taking it in the past. In the near term what I would imagine--and this could change, in full disclosure--is I would think tablets, I do not believe we will be in the smartphone business again."
That statement certainly provides some hope to the TouchPad fan, though it is still fairly open-ended. Whitman left nothing to interpretation as to the future of HP smartphones, however. There won't be any more.
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