Hewlett Packard and its online retail partners are now taking TouchPad tablet pre-orders, but prospective customers might find this seemingly simple process to be more difficult than they'd anticipated.
That's because several online retailers that HP links to on its official TouchPad tablet Web site aren't actually taking pre-orders, if "pre-order" is defined as being able to reserve a TouchPad prior to the tablet's July 1 release.
HP lists a number of TouchPad distribution partners for business customers, but as of Monday afternoon Pacific time, the landing pages for Zones (link), Neweggbusiness.com (link), and TigerDirect.com were inactive, and visitors were greeted with 404 errors when they clicked from HP's TouchPad site.
CDW's TouchPad page invited visitors to enter their contact information to be informed of TouchPad availability by their CDW account manager. But the page also indicated that the TouchPad will be available "this summer", even though HP announced nearly two weeks ago that it would be available July 1.
The pre-ordering process isn't any easier for consumers: As of Monday afternoon, the TouchPad landing pages for Sam's (link), Officemax (link), Radio Shack (link) and Hilliard, Ohio-based Micro Center (link) all listed the TouchPad as "coming soon" but offered no online or telephone pre-ordering capability.
HP's own TouchPad tablet site for consumers listed the product as "coming soon" with no online pre-ordering capability, although it did list a phone number. However, on Monday, customers couldn't pre-order TouchPads by calling this number; they could only agree to be added to a list and be contacted by HP when the TouchPad becomes available.
Obviously, these issues could cause frustration for potential TouchPad tablet buyers, and that's something HP would like to avoid as it seeks to drum up interest in an extremely important product.
"HP is aware of the issue and is taking immediate action to try to resolve the issues with the links. HP reseller partners can place pre-orders through their distributors, which many have already started doing," an HP spokesperson said in an email.
New product launches are often beset with various types of glitches, and HP isn't likely to lose TouchPad customers as a result of this one. However, HP counts its channel and distribution muscle as one of its key advantages over Apple and other tablet players, so the fact that this is happening in a traditional area of HP strength has to be at least a bit concerning.