On Aug. 19, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) dropped a bombshell and blew up its stock price: Then-CEO Leo Apotheker decided it was too hard to earn a decent profit margin selling personal computers. So instead of trying, instead of leveraging his greater scale of operations to beat back Dell's (Nasdaq: DELL) challenge, and drive Apple and its iMacs into the sea, he ... gave up.

Surrendered. Abandoned the PC market, closed down the TouchPad production line, and announced a massive weekend fire sale to liquidate its stockpiles of TouchPads at prices as low as $99 apiece.

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory from the skull of defeat
In the course of doing so -- entirely by accident and not at all to his credit -- Apotheker stumbled upon a discovery: People loved the TouchPad at the new price. By some reports, the company moved 350,000 units within just a few hours.

Which brings us to Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX).

As you've probably heard by now, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings made an HP-sized error when he announced a split into two companies last month: a streaming business under the old moniker, and a comically -- nay, pathetically -- named DVD rental operation called Qwikster. Outcry against the move was immediate, and not at all complimentary. More importantly, though, it was noticed. This morning, Hastings transmitted a "10-4" to his customers, promising to reverse his mistake and keep the DVD business in-house. "This means no change: one website, one account, one password … in other words, no Qwikster," Hastings said.

What H-P can learn from Netflix
Having recently joined the diaspora of Netflix refugees who canceled our accounts in protest against Hastings' split-the-baby business decision, I now find myself reconsidering. Clearly, Hastings is the kind of CEO who listens to his customers. Clearly, he's not afraid to admit a mistake -- and fix it. Can HP do likewise?

Two months ago, hundreds of thousands of HP fans rushed to buy the new TouchPad at $99 a pop. One month ago, they swarmed the ramparts again, when a small cache of TouchPads was discovered at Office Depot (NYSE: ODP) -- at $150 apiece. To this day, the tablet PC remains a hot seller in the resale market on eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY), where it fetches prices of $200 and up.

Foolish takeaway
Take a page from the Netflix playbook, HP. Don't cancel the TouchPad. Build more! If you build it, we will come.