Hewlett-Packard Thursday said it will stop manufacturing its TouchPad tablet PC just over six weeks after its launch. HP is also discontinuing its Pre3 and Veer smartphones and says it will "explore options" for WebOS.
HP's decision to kill off the TouchPad follows a flurry of price cuts earlier this month and a report earlier this week that Best Buy, fed up with weak consumer demand for the TouchPad, has asked HP to buy back unsold inventory.
Word of HP's move Thursday came as the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company also confirmed that it is considering a spin-off of its PC business and revealed plans to buy information management software firm Autonomy for $10.3 billion shortly before the planned release of HP's latest financial results.
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Terry Hedden, CEO of Infinity Technology Solutions in Tampa, Fla. That does mobile development, said his company hasn’t done any development on WebOS and had received no customer inquiries about the TouchPad, so he found the tablet’s demise hardly shocking.
“I’m not surprised in the least bit,” Hedden said. “The best thing HP could have done was to give away TouchPads to the channel, which they did [at XChange Americas last week] but it was too late to get any traction.”
Hedden said WebOS was doomed from the start. “The market just can’t support a fourth platform; you’ve already got [Apple] iOS, Android and Windows,” he said. “It was a mistake for HP to buy Palm, and it will cost them. But I’m positive that they’ll try again with Android.”
Paul Hilbert, a partner with Englewood Cliffs, N.J.-based solution provider Network Doctor, said he was stunned that HP pulled the plug on the TouchPad, especially when HP made such a grand spectacle about its release and its mobility plans. Hilbert had attended last week’s XChange Americas conference and received one of the many TouchPad tablet’s HP handed out there.
"The product was still in its infancy, but it seemed like they had a solid plan for it," Hilbert said, adding that the TouchPad was a pro-sumer device that took a little from the consumer side and a little from the business side to make a well-rounded offering. "It hadn't even really hit the market."
But stiff competition from the Apple iPad and a host of other tablet wannabes, coupled with other major players making massive mobile pushes, could have caused HP to rethink its strategies for the TouchPad and webOS, he said.
"I wonder if this has anything to do with the Google-Motorola deal and if HP felt threatened by Google Android," Hilbert said of Google's proposed $12.5 billion buyout of Motorola Mobility, a move that gives Google the much needed hardware chops to accompany the success it has captured with its Android mobile operating system.
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