Optical/IP Networks

Lessons From the $99 HP Tablet Rush

4:40 PM -- HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) discontinued its WebOS TouchPad tablet, slashed the price to $99 and -- BOOM!-- the thing sold out in record time at retailers across the U.S. this weekend.

What does this tell us?

  • People love a bargain, whether or not they wanted the device at full price in the first place.
  • There's likely some residual love for webOS out there that HP might be able to exploit with licensing.
  • There's absolutely a place for a $250 or less tablet in the marketplace.

As it stands now, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. might be well placed to fill this need. The Chinese vendor already has Android tablets out that are available for $250 or less. These are pretty bare-bones, but its upcoming Honeycomb 3.2 tablet might be very close to the bull's-eye if the price is right. Make the Web browsing snappy, and let me get to email, take some pictures and watch a video. In other words, a stripped-down computing device for travel and fun. (See Android & the Promise of LTE Boost Huawei.)

Because the other thing that has become clear to me is -- if we're not talking about the status symbol buy of an iPad -- people are looking at $499 tablets and wondering why they shouldn't buy a tiny netbook for $250 or $300 instead.

It's one of the questions I get asked a lot socially when people find out what I do for a living. And you know what? I don't think there's always a good answer, but clearly cheaper tablet options can be popular, when available.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 4:55:39 PM
re: Lessons From the $99 HP Tablet Rush

TouchPads are going for over $500 on Amazon today too. Crazy.

cnwedit 12/5/2012 | 4:55:38 PM
re: Lessons From the $99 HP Tablet Rush

I, for one, would have snapped up a few of these, if I'd had the chance.

One of the things that I hate about Apple - speaking strictly as a consumer - is that they stay above the price competition fray, which just delays how widely used their products are.

I remember when an iPod was a precious thing to my kids and now we have them lying about the house and stored in every backpack, purse and gym bag.

In a few years, iPads will be scattered about as well -- or someone's tablets will be.

jdbower 12/5/2012 | 4:55:37 PM
re: Lessons From the $99 HP Tablet Rush

I know a lot of people (from a very skewed dataset) who bought one on the hopes that it will be running Android soon.  Everything I've read says WebOS is nice, but Android has the app ecosystem and long term support WebOS lacks.  That said, I would have loved one even if it was just a web browser.  As it stands, I'm tempted by some of the cheap Vizio tabs which can be had for the sub-$300 range.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:55:36 PM
re: Lessons From the $99 HP Tablet Rush

Well look it as a $100 for a portable web access unit that you'll use for a year or two. That's a lot less than a new smartphone even.

Survivorman 12/5/2012 | 4:55:36 PM
re: Lessons From the $99 HP Tablet Rush

It surprises me that anybody would waste $100 to $500 on a tablet that's soon going to be unsupported, with an OS that will never evolve, and an echosystem that will never develop.  They should have used it as a downpayment on an iPad.  Or just sent the check to me and I've have guaranteed five five minute calls on hold for them.

rjmachin 12/5/2012 | 4:55:32 PM
re: Lessons From the $99 HP Tablet Rush

It's fairly obvious that plenty of people look at Tablets and see a plaything which is hard to justify at $500. $99, however, is within the range of what plenty of folks would normally pay for a plaything, and as with other consumer goods, when the price is at that level, I don't need to scrutinise performance, resilience, ecosystems etc., all of which was a confusing pain anyway... I just need to think 'do I like how it looks and what it does? Is that value for $99? Hand it over...'.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:55:29 PM
re: Lessons From the $99 HP Tablet Rush

So I guess I'm trying to figure what the sweet spot is, at what price does a tablet keep its bargin status? $200? $300? $350?

Seems like vendors would need to find ways to integrate further with tablets to build at those price points and still make a little money.

rjmachin 12/5/2012 | 4:55:24 PM
re: Lessons From the $99 HP Tablet Rush

I would have thought that price parity with a netbook is what most people would regard as reasonable value - around $250 for a well-equipped tablet?

It'll be interesting to see what the long term effect of this firesale will be. I would guess that for a lot of those buyers, it's their first tablet - but it won't be their last. I wonder what they'll buy next time...


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