The 10-inch tablet that runs webOS software from that old Palm acquisition can now be yours for $385, shipping included. New, not refurbished. Even if we're talking about the cheapest version in the TouchPad lineup with just 16GB of storage, that's a pretty sweet deal. Buying the same thing from RadioShack (NYSE: RSH ) right now will cost you $499.
The fact that the TouchPad is showing up in clearance-sale service Woot now, just a month after the official launch, tells us volumes about how it's selling. Or, you know, not selling.
In fact, Woot is not the only place where you can find discount-priced TouchPads today. The larger Amazon site offers an instant $100 discount, as do Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) and HP's own online store. I guess RadioShack just didn't read that TPS report yet. (But Woot is still $15 cheaper than any of the above options.)
So the HP brand name didn't sell TouchPads, and neither did a marketing push with B-list celebrities like Russell Brand. The much-touted user friendliness of webOS didn't help. Having top-notch hardware, including a LED-lit screen and a high-speed Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM ) dual-core processor, also did nothing. And now HP is basically giving up on it.
This thing may beat the pants off the Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPad on paper -- but guess which one shifted more than 9 million units last quarter and which one was relegated to the discount bin in less than a month? Yeah, you got it. And the story is pretty much the same for the Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) PlayBook and Motorola Mobility Xoom: high hopes and great specs but disappointing sales.
Don't expect the supposed iPad killers to stop coming. Also, don't expect them to actually kill anything, short of a massive shift in marketing strategy. Apple knows what people want and work hard to deliver exactly that, including a feel-good message about the magic an iPad brings into your life.
The best device doesn't always win. The best marketing does. Read more about marketing folly and fortunes: