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back to article Seven lessons from the HP Touchpad fire sale

The unfolding saga surrounding the HP Touchpad contains a goldmine of salutary tales. So, just what can we learn from the last few days? Anyone who says they expected the fire sale of HP touchpads to turn into a global gadget grab is a liar. Fortunately nobody has yet, not publicly anyway – indeed, apart from a few bits of …

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Anonymous Coward

8. Tablets are still toys

Just that

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Stop

I disagree, but...

You price them as a toy and they WILL sell. By the bucketload.

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Megaphone

Tablets - what's the point?

I completely agree that tablets are toys. Having replied to articles similar to this I ask you to show me something you do on your tablet, and I'll show you how to do it better on a laptop.

I mean come on lets compare a tablet to my ThinkPad:

Apps:

No contest goes to the laptop. Not even the IPad can come close to the diverse range of apps available for your favored flavor of Windows / Linux / OSX / whatever os you prefer.

Battery life:

With a nine cell battery my ThinkPad comfortably gets 4 hours, usually 5-6. Now tell me when you are away from power (be it mains, car or plane) for more than that time, and tablets don't run for much longer anyway. Ok the extra battery life might be useful occasionally, but in the two years I've had my laptop it has run out of battery twice, and on both occasions because I forgot to pack the power supply.

Ergonomics:

Again it goes to the laptop. Much easier to type, easier to hold in a comfortable position etc etc.

Connectivity:

Once again the laptop wins, being able to connect easily to many different devices, rather than having to play around with specialist printer adapters etc. Furthermore you can tether it to your phone, and not have to pay a separate data charge, which most phones don't support with tablets.

Portability:

Yes laptops are bigger and heavier, but not by much, especially when you only get 13.3" / 14" models, which are all you need for portable work (ok maybe not if you're doing on location photo / video editing or something, but then you wouldn't be looking at a tablet for that anyway) they are still plenty light enough and small enough to easily carry (I almost always take my laptop with me when I leave the house, and don't have any problems with it being hard to carry around).

Storage capacity:

Again no brainer to the laptop - much higher capacity, and much cheaper.

Price:

This is the only place where a tablet could win. However if you think that most decent tablets when not in a sale are at least £400, and once you add in a data contract (which you will probably want, but don't need with a laptop it goes up again.

So, what is the advantage of a tablet, other than following the herd??????

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Electronic Flight Bag

The post is required, and must contain letters.

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Try owning one for a start

>>So, what is the advantage of a tablet, other than following the herd??????

Your whole post says "I've never owned an iPad/tablet". Buy one, and see what a difference it is.

When you've done that you'll understand why our 15 month old iPad gets used for 2-3 hours a day as an absolute minimum.

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Exactly

Exactly this. The article overinterprets the 'tablet effect', I think. As Marky says, $99 is a toy price. For $99 some people will buy just about anything - a craplet running Android 1.5 in Chinese (I *was* that sucker!), a game console they use for two weeks and then forget about for ten years, a robot vacuum that they use...see above...just about any tech toy you can name, really. It doesn't mean that any of said toys are going to have a profound effect on serious computing, _even if twenty gazillion of them are sold_. Did the Cabbage Patch Kids have any particular definable impact on the human experience? No, because they're toys. I expect the 'impact' of the Touchpad to be similarly muted. If I'd found one I'd have bought it, sure, for $99 for something I can use to browse the web when I can't be arsed opening a laptop. Is that some sort of profound effect on the industry? No, not really.

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The point

Tablets aren't meant to replace full-fat laptops (by processor ability not screen size). They can't. They are, in the words of Jobs, media consumption devices and not media creation devices. It is an important distinction as is the constant failing of techies stating "it doesn't have port XYZ or expansion slot ABC" etc etc. The general public don't f*cking care. You might. I might. They obviously don't.

Also, don't ignore genuine uses such as sales/marketing, warehouse stock control (camera useful as a barcode scanner etc), and uses in the medical world. Niche? Maybe, but valid all the same. A laptop is shit to use on the move in these contexts and you'll find that the second use example already has specialised, purpose made input devices for this sort of thing. Specialised in that they are purpose built, mono faceted, and bloody expensive for what they do. Tablets open up other opportunities.

Don't be fooled by the pricing - Apple is always at the top-end and other manufacturers have made the mistake of pricing their offerings there. Tablets will become cheaper over time as does any new gadget. The pricing is what is causing the current spate of comparisons with laptops and over time (after the initial fanboy/gadget nerd period) they will find their true price point at which they become sustainable. In this context you would need to compare an Apple tablet to an Apple laptop or a general market tablet to a general market laptop. Apple's price won't adjust much but the general market tablet-laptop spread will.

To address the other points...

Apps - agreed but do they need the same number?

Battery life - 10hrs compared to your 4. When would you be away from power for that long? Likely never unless travelling. Better question is "when would you have the time to sit around while your device recharged whilst you need it to be portable?" A full day without charging is nice.

Ergonomics - mixed bag. Typing is a comparative fail but walk around usage isn't.

Connectivity - wireless, BT and 3G. They aren't really designed to be connected to other devices - it's not their use-case. Phone tethering is easy and cost free (tethering, not data). Most double as wi-fi hubs.

Portability - they are way way better. No contest.

Storage Capacity - again I would argue that it's not their use-case. Consumption implies "cloud" for better or worse.

Price - the sticking point.

Would I get one? If I had money to piss away then yes. Currently I'm not overly convinced.

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Anonymous Coward

They can be more convenient...

...than a laptop. A colleague described them as coffee table devices, ideal for picking up to find something quicky and then put down again. They're also 'instant on'; no waiting for a laptop to boot or emerge from hibernation.

A gadget? Yes; a toy if you like, but the only gadget I have purchased and used literally every day since I purchased it.

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Flame

What utter sh!te

Posts like these really show why the UK is so far behind the curve when it comes to technology development and adoption:

Apps:

<No contest goes to the laptop. Not even the IPad can come close to the diverse range of apps available for your favored flavor of Windows / Linux / OSX / whatever os you prefer. >

If I'm going to create that 1000 page government report on why the grass is more green in Cheshire than in Islington I would use a laptop or desktop.

However 99% of the population don't generate this kind of stuff. Watch movies on the go, surf the internet at home and on the move, lookup my favorite cupcake recipe, do my expenses, show my store manager how well they are doing against our other stores, show my CEO how many touchpads Dixons sold in 15 mins vs Dabs!, read your gas meter, look up what part is needed for your washing machine, diagnose why your cars air bag light won't go out, review the results of the medical tests you have had done and many many more uses.

Many niche, granted, but who would have predicted the breadth of apps that would be created for the iPhone when it was launched. Even Bury council is mounting iPads in their bin lorries to show drivers the routes. (A bit of a waste of money really as they should know the route its not as if it is would change every week. Maybe the collections will be so infrequent in future that they will need reminding)

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DPR

How about

I use my tablet as a SatNav and an e-book reader and also as a mobile phone with Skype - and whilst I'll concede that all these can be done on a laptop - it's a lot more comfortable with a tablet.

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Media creation

Plenty of media creation apps on the iPad.

They're not really much good for video and image creation but there's plenty of music applications.

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Tablets - Their point is…

Far better long form PDF documents reading experience. Far better eBook reading experience (try reading an eBook in a portable for hours. Not fun). Just those two justify their existence, specially the lower-end of the spectrum.

As a computer: real no-buts instant on (which is crucial for casual computing), near-zero or simply zero maintenance, portrait-landscape modes. Far better couch potato-bility. Want a keyboard? There are plenty of solutions out there, many of them laptop-ish.

Mind you, I wouldn't abandon desktop computing (and my 24" monitor) ever, but I adquired the cheapest iPad available just for the eBook/web/movies thing (I had an eBook Reader already: it served me well, but the UI was a disaster and the hardware rather so-so), and it has proved to be a computing experience-changer.

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Day

@Benjamin4

I have an eee pad transformer, so I can choose whether to use it as a netbook or a tablet.

Apps: I had an iPhone before and the app store there is far simpler to use than downloading apps to use on my (Windows) PC. I think you might mean that the diversity of programs available for a laptop is greater and I would agree with you; the laptop is a more versatile device. However, it is far easier to get apps onto a tablet or phone than onto a PC. The Mac app store seems to be more like the tablet/phone experience, although I haven't used it much. In terms of ease-of-use (in my experience), I'd put them: 1. Apple app store; 2. Android app store; 3. (and MILES behind the other two) Downloading Windows/Mac software.

Battery life: I think you're misinformed here. Your laptop gets 5-6 hours? I would be appalled if my transformer got less than eight and of course it weighs less because its battery is not so big. I don't know what laptop you have but I'd guess that it weighs at least as much as the Transformer in its netbook form. As a netbook I'd expect no less than fourteen hours out of it.

Ergonomics: I suspect that what you're saying is for *your* requirements. But I would guess that your laptop weighs twice as much as my tablet, so if you often have to use the device standing up, the laptop is hopeless. I suspect that most people use tablets for web-browsing, watching videos and playing games. I mostly use mine on the couch. For many people, the keyboard is irrelevant.

Connectivity: I've never needed to print from my tablet. If I wanted to print I'd use my desktop machine, which is connected to my printer. My tablet is wifi only but I use an Android phone, my contract allows me unlimited data so I use the phone as a portable hotspot if necessary. It doesn't cost me anything to do that.

Portability: "bigger and heavier, but not by much": I would guess that your laptop weighs twice as much as my tablet.

Storage capacity: Your laptop will certainly have more storage than my tablet.

Price: My eee pad transformer cost £430 (remember I can also use it as a netbook). It is now available for under £420. The tablet alone was £345 when I last looked on Amazon.

As far as I can tell, for your requirements, a laptop is better. There are lots of people who don't want to do what you want to do. For some of those people the tablet is a better device. You have to consider other people's requirements.

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Really ?

"but the only gadget I have purchased and used literally every day since I purchased it."

what about your smartphone (assuming you have one)

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Sort of agree...

I'm in a lucky position to have had a few tablets, both iOS and Android based they all do what they are designed for (media consumption) very well, personally I prefer the Android system but iOS is good if somewhat overrated. the problem i have with tablets its their main attribute, size.

Too large to fit a pocket means I will normally use my phone unless the tablet is in arms reach, this is why so many have become coffee table devices, this is where I believe most will exist well into the future, and that's a good thing as its where most people feel comfortably (in their lounge watching tv) browsing the internet , playing the odd game , reading / writing emails etc.

this is where the price become so important, Apple pitch high, their customer base is happy to pay high but really a secondary or tertiary device (after computer or laptop & phone) should really be in the sub £200 bracket. I suspect this is what Amazon will go for at least with its budget device.

basically phone is with me everywhere, computer / laptop is for everything and tablet is for lazying on couch reading news and generally slobbery computing.

I have noticed that many of my clients who own iPhones or other smartphones with 3-3.5" screens seem to use them more than people who own newer phones with larger screens i.e. SGS2 etc

I think when limited to 3.5 inch or less on your phone the tablet is more necessary, when you have super amoled plus 4.5" gorgeousness :D tablets get less use.

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Tablets are not toys...

They're just designed for online communication, media consumption and lightweight creation. You also need to bear in mind that "tablet" does not equal "Apple": their heavily-constrained iOS devices may currently be market leaders, but as per this very article, other systems are gaining traction - the Android tablets in particular offer many significant advantages (e.g. SD slots, USB ports).

So, to take each of your points and respond from a "generic" tablet viewpoint:

Apps:

I'll fully agree that the "app" approach of Android and iOS is often constraining, but seriously: how many apps do you run on a portable laptop? How much of what you do is via the web-browser?

Battery life:

For me, the difference between 10 hours and 4 hours is the difference between recharging it weekly or every other day - and with their handy-dandy solid-state design and instant-on operating systems, it also means that I'm not as paranoid about firing the device up to quickly check something; booting up a laptop takes longer and drains more energy, as it fires up fans and spins up the HDD...

Ergonomics:

Horses for courses: a laptop is certainly better for "creation" tasks - typing, editing, etc. However, it's generally not usable in portrait mode (e.g. reading books or websites), they generally require a flat surface to sit on and they're usually at least double the weight of a tablet - for instance, the Thinkpad X1 is 1.7kg vs the 0.6kg of the iPad 2. I'd therefore argue that a tablet is more ergonomic in several situations: sitting on public transport, sprawled on the sofa, etc.

Connectivity:

Laptops definitely have better connectivity, but Android tablets aren't too bad: many feature SD card slots and USB ports which can be used to plug in storage and input devices. As for tethering to your phone: Apple (and many phone companies) may have this locked down, but that's hardly a fault of the tablet. And I'd be intrigued to find out how your phone company will be able to detect the difference between a tablet and a laptop: the connection sharing system will be the same, regardless of the hardware.

Portability:

As noted above, a tablet is generally at least half the weight of a laptop (if not a third or even a quarter); it's also physically substantially smaller, which means in turn that the bag carrying it can be smaller.

Storage capacity:

To an extent, this is debatable: many modern laptops are using SSDs to reduce weight and power consumption; they generally have more storage than a tablet, but it's a single-digit factor (e.g. 128gb instead of 32gb).

And one nice thing about laptops and non-Apple tablets is that you can easily slot more storage in via an SD card, at a far lower premium than the original manufacturer charges. Apple charges an extra £80 when you go from 32gb to 64gb; 32GB SDHC cards are now available for less than £30 - and you can easily carry half a dozen around if needed.

(And realistically: unless you want to take every single Star Trek episode with you, how much storage do you need to carry around?)

Price:

Personally, I agree: tablets are generally overpriced. But prices are dropping, even at retail; PC World is now selling the Advent Vega tablet for £199.99; Comet has a 10" tablet for £129.99 and Maplins have a 7" tablet for £99.

Last but not least: the advantage of a tablet is that I can easily carry it with me, as it's small and light. I can use it when standing on the train during the commuting rush-hour. I can watch movies in landscape mode or read books, comics and magazines, as they're intended to be viewed: held in one hand, in portrait mode. I can easily fire it up to check Facebook or search Google, and a single charge is enough to last me for a week of commuting.

It's very much horses for courses: a tablet isn't going to replace the laptop I use in the living room, or the quad-core monster sat upstairs which handles my video and photo processing activities. But for lightweight, portable consumption, a tablet is nigh-on perfect.

And one final, anecdotal point: I too own a Thinkpad - the touchscreen-enabled X41. Originally, I used to take this on the train with me (Sheffield to Leeds; 40 minutes on the train each way), but despite the fact that it's allegedly the lightest tablet PC ever made (1.2kg), it simply proved too heavy and bulky, so I switched to an iPad, which in turn allowed me to use a smaller, lighter bag rather than using a standard laptop bag. And in turn, this meant I felt a wee bit safer when walking through an inner-city area to get home, as it's no longer obvious that I have some potentially valuable hardware attached to my shoulder...

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Anonymous Coward

It's not a toy

My eee Pad transformer has replaced my laptop as a meeting machine. I can get a true 16 hours usage between charges, and Polaris Office is good enough for presenting powerpoints or taking notes

I'm currently in London for a 2 day workshop, the meeting room does not have enough power sockets for the attendees and while my colleagues are scrabbling around trying to share chargers I'm sitting here at 2PM with 75% battery, and that's after having also used it to watch a moovie during my morning's commute.

Having said that I would not want to use it full time instead of a 'real' laptop, but it's definitely NOT a toy

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Smart Phones

Everything you just said (well pretty much) will also apply to a smart phone; the only two things a smart phone does which a laptop does not is:

1. Fit in your pocket

2. Make calls

You can do everything else better and easier on a laptop but you don’t always have a laptop with you because it is big and heavy (comparatively). Smart Phones and eReaders have shown people some of the nice points about having some shiny web accessing tech in your pocket; it has also made a lot of places people gather (pubs, coffee shops, etc.) put in Wi-Fi. This means that people who perhaps have a bag or brief case could now carry a slightly larger Smart Phone without the phone bit so they don’t have to squint at a small picture or lug a heavy laptop with them.

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Anonymous Coward

I do have a smartphone...

...which of course I use every day. However I consider my smartphone to be a tool without which my job would be much harder and hence not a gadget.

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Coat

Woops... Upset the pad owners, there...

Would you have been happier with "Luxury Gadget?"

(And hey, anything *wrong* with toys? Just they should not be sold and marketed in the same way as a standard piece of office equipment like a PC, or even a laptop)

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Joke

So...

"Tablets are not toys...They're just designed for online communication, media consumption and lightweight creation."

So...what you're saying is that they're toys?

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One of the best...

One of the best most realistic articles I've read for a while on the Reg.

Nice.

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Anonymous Coward

Other conclusions

I will add to this excellent article one other conclusion: people will pay a significant premium for the iPad. Equal pricing from WebOS wasn't or Android isn't enough. Why that is will be a matter for others, industrial design is one factor, the app ecosystem a clear difference.

To compete against apple the peoples will need to charge a lot less, but that's really hard to do given the cost of hardware -display, storage, memory will be the same for apple as everyone else. Maybe another fire sale would kick start the competition, but HP couldn't afford to do it again.

As an aside: I now own a touchpad. good iplayer support, keeps the kids happy. PDF viewer weak. What it does handle is HTML5 apps -which, IMO- is the only app platform that could compete with iOS apps. Which -amusingly enough- WebOS apps were- .

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Dead right

The article hits the nail (or should that be nails) on the head. And also underlines one of the current failings for any one who got their mitts on a TouchPad. Like me, who's typing this on one, the bargain was too much to pass up. I am an Android devotee, having shamelessly indoctrinated every member of my family into getting one. I did not want a TouchPad. I didn't want an iPad.

But the prospect of getting a 32gb tablet from a good manufacturer for £115 is unbelievable.

now I have it, I can never justify getting an Android tablet of this form factor, but I am still holding for a successful port of Android 4 to it. Would I still the currently mooted 2.2 Cyanogen build on it even if it were perfected? No. Within an hour of using it, WebOS has proved itself an excellent operating system and putting anything less than a tablet specific OS would be stupid.

But now I am waiting to see whether the author's point about the platform breeding apps is going to be fruitful now that there is a captive audience of nonsensical bargain hunters like me scouring the HP app store (which is fantastic by the way, if only in construction and execution) looking for all those freebies that I take for granted on Android.

I hope it continues, but if not, the TouchPad will always be a very good media and web delivery mechanism, which is what it is intended to be.

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Looking for the perfect price point?

Well the 17 for sale still on Amazon UK for £200 then would suggest so are they.

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Agreed

eBay says the same thing, around £200 seems to be the price people are willing to pay (for the 16Gb model at least). Although I'm not sure at the moment if this is because there is a glut. Once everybody who wants one has one, will the price drop further? If it goes down to £150 I might consider getting one.

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Anonymous Coward

Print Poice

The price point.

The cost of an iPad is prohibitive in my opinion. But then it appears I am not an average consumer with limitless disposable income.

A gadget that costs more than I've paid for some cars!

Similarly, I had never thought about a netbook, thinking of them as merely small laptops with a form factor like my old 486 Toshiba Satellite. However, a couple of years ago Asda were selling the Acer Aspire One for £150. That seemed to be a good price to convince myself to buy one.

They sold well, in fact I couldn't get one until I managed to get in the 2nd batch of stock.

It does get a lot of use, and I've triple booted XP and OSX alongside the existing Linux, upgraded the RAM and the WIFI card.

Now though netbooks are just small laptops with the same price as full-fat laptops, with a Windows 7 spec. And accordingly, the netbook market is shrinking.

As the HP touchpad sale has shown, price an item accordingly and it will sell!

Was tempted myself only it was a week before payday.

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rule 0.

People will buy a "bargain" even if they never use it. (Cue the Monty Python sketch.)

If this tablet had gone on sale at $99 (or equivalent in the other 95% of the world) it would have been a minor success as "the cheap iPad". However the people who bought it would soon realise it's the I.T. equivalent of a wok. Something you can think of many uses for, but after the first couple of times, never get round to using again.

However, sell it for $hundreds off list price and suddenly the horde is scrambling for it. It'll still end up in the cupboard between the wok and the USB coffee mug warmer, but people are only buying it because it's a bargain - even without the piston engine.

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Silver badge

Eh?

I use my wok all the time. It's a good all-round pan for cooking anything that needs a bit of frying first and it distributes the heat quite nicely. Marvelous thing.

You may be surprised to find that some people buy things because they actually know what they're going to use them for.

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Point taken

...but I use my wok for cooking practically everything :D

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hp's handling of pre3 is worse

HP's handling of the pre3 is even worse than touchpad. Many users(myself included) have been struggling to get their hands of pre3s, despite HP's decision to not launch in the U.S. However even UK retailers are unable to get their hands on any. It seems all of the pre3 stock is being held for HP to make some sort of decision on how to handle it. The supplier I am going through has confirmed their upstream supplier has more than 1,000 units available but is unable to release them at this time. More info is due in a couple of days.

Even the Palm "eurostore" is unable to get their hands on them.

HP surely didn't handle the palm stuff as well as they could of, losing $400M is a drop in the bucket though, I would expect them to blow at least another $2B over the coming years. HP/Palm apparently had half a dozen handsets in development but most were canned due to missing deadlines. What would of helped the most I believe is optimizing the OS - more end to end GPU acceleration. But most of all what they needed was time - time to catch up and catch their breath. There were signs everywhere that things were rushed out the door. I think ramping up more resources over the next year or two would of been sufficient to stabilize the platform. Palm couldn't do it themselves because they were broke by the time WebOS launched.

I like to use MS as a comparison - look how much resources MS has poured into mobile versions of their OS over the last decade and look what they have to show for it -- but they aren't giving up. I didn't expect HP to do so either. But with the change in management I guess came a change in strategy. Too bad too.

I can't find fault in the various shopping sites failing under the load even HP's own site (myself I spent 2 hours refreshing server errors to get my orders through last weekend), it was the lack of communication from upstream which was the problem. The problems continue with the pre3 with resellers getting conflicting information every few hours/day as to when/if they'll be able to sell them and at what price etc.

Communication again - HP had a good opportunity to prioritize hardware allocations to developers and existing customers before opening it up to the world, but failed to do so of course. Look at the Palm developer forums to find the same sort of complaints developers have getting their hands on product that the normal users do.

I saw that the head of communications has stepped down from HP - but I'm sure it's not his fault all of this went on, he's just a scape goat.

HP was entirely too rushed in all of this stuff, there was no reason to drop stuff at this pace.

I have a new HP Veer from AT&T arriving tomorrow, and a new Pre2 arriving today, while I wait to hear the fate of my Pre3s.

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Anonymous Coward

Very strange handling of Pre3 sales

First of all it was announced on the euro Palmstore that any orders placed would be adjusted when the order completed to be a discounted bundle offering. Then the option to place an order was pulled. A few days later and the website states that no discount will now be offered, and one was never confirmed in the first place. The site confirms this now and only offer the phone at the original price of £299. Seems a fair few people are still going ahead at this price as there is no stock left and anyone that hasn't been contacted by the store by now is unlikely to get one.

Much like people's opinion of the Touchpad, would buy one discounted but not full price unless there is likely to be some decent/useful apps appear for it.

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Coat

I'm really pissed off about the Pre3.

I've wanted one since they were announced and was prepared to pay for it too. I knew that no one would be wanting one and all the 'cool kids' would turn their noses up at it as it wasnt iOS or Android but I didnt care.

Now chances are HP will flog them off for £50 and I wont be able to get one due to internet meltdown yet all the wankers that didnt want one will snap it up.

Typical. Yes I am a little peeved.

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deh

Or maybe...

I have seen enough fire sales to know that people will buy all sorts of things that they don't really need or want, as long as it's on sale.

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Tablets are primarily toys ... about 79% of the time

according to the results of some research I am doing, but drops to 61% when you ask about what people plan to do with them in the future.

That however masks that if you also ask how much time they are being used or will be used for work, the numbers of hours per week spent on work is pretty high and the number that people predict they will spend on work is even higher.

Personally, I want it primarily for work, but can't justify the $400+ pricetag for an experiment.

A $99 or $149 fondleslab from a well-reputed manufacturer is almost a no-brainer though.

As for people buying bargains they will never use - that's true enough and why people's garages are filled with junk and their expensive car stands out in the rain and sun.

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Boffin

Ironic

That the main lesson to be learned is that major companies like HP should buy market share by initially underpricing their products. But nooooo! Heaven forbid doing that! It's much better to overpay in a risky acquisition. Especially ironic given that Leo Apotheker is a software guy, where operating at a loss to build up market share is the norm.

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Holmes

Tablets are going to be such old hat in 10 years

I have read several SF books where the equivalent of your PC/laptop/tablet+mobile phone/comms centre is embedded directly in your brain.

Hundreds of people are already walking around with computers inside their head to help with medical problems.

It is only a matter of time before medical computers become personal computers and Apple will jump in patenting everything which has been predicted and built for other uses. Some big name company will try to get market share by using a different OS, then suddenly get cold feet.

Todays tablet will be tomorrows computer implant and the cycle will begin again.

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Happy

Already seen these

The Eye Phone from a recent episode of Futureama, very funny :-)

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Gimp

Unlikely any time soon.

Let's face it, at the moment the most painful part of upgrading your iGadget is the cashectomy performed on your wallet / credit card / bank account. When the process involves someone opening up your head and fooling around in there, then even a 24-month upgrade cycle will seem awfully fast.

Would you allow those... uh... "geniuses" in the Apple shop the necessary access to perform the upgrade, let alone maintenance? It isn't rocket science, you know...

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FAIL

The author is smoking crack

The reason the Android manufacturers priced their tablets in the same range as Apple - is because they had to make a profit. HP took a big loss on every $99 tablet - not a sustainable business model. The company that can deliver and iPad experience (or one closely approximating it) for $99 AND make money - that company will own the tablet market. Right now either you use cheap materials and end up with a cheap, junky tablet or you build it right and your BOM is $300-$350 (There are few companies that can get the volume discounts Apple can).

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Price point FAIL

"Anonymous Coward" nailed it: Jon Collins's price point argument conveniently overlooks the fact that HP lost a minimum of $100 on every TouchPad they blew out last week (based on the device's estimated $200-$250 BOM).

Meanwhile, tablet makers such as Samsung and Motorola who want to make a profit are finding it extremely difficult to match Apple's iPad pricing without adopting quality-cutting strategies such as cheap resistive touchscreens, smaller displays, reduced amounts of RAM and flashRAM storage, and so on. Apple's huge purchases of LCDs, flashRAM and other components have made them more than price-competitive, as has been reported here at The Reg and elsewhere. (And the same situation is developing in the so-called "Ultrabook" field, as manufacturers despair of matching Apple's MacBook Air pricing--also reported here in recent weeks.)

In short, arguing that because Touchpads flew off the shelves when sold at a huge loss, Apple's pricing is too high is like saying that if BMW sedans sold for $999, they'd overwhelm the market. It's pointless, because you can't build a BMW to sell for that price and make a profit, just as at present you can't build an iPad-quality tablet to sell for $99 and make a profit.

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Stop

Re: Price point FAIL

"Meanwhile, tablet makers such as Samsung and Motorola who want to make a profit are finding it extremely difficult to match Apple's iPad pricing without adopting quality-cutting strategies such as cheap resistive touchscreens, smaller displays, reduced amounts of RAM and flashRAM storage, and so on."

(Judge's wig on...) I'll entertain this argument if you can explain how Samsung cannot match Apple's pricing when they make practically all the components themselves, including quite a few that Apple use.

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Bronze badge

bee and emm bargains

The was BMW underspec their base models such that everything is an option, I'm surprised they didn't take a leaf out of BMCs book.

They originally sold the Austin Mini, Ford bought a base model and discovered that they were actually costing more to produce than they were selling for!

BMC made their money from expensive options such as seatbelts, heaters and radios, on an otherwise stark and basic car. The Cooper models also sold for a healthy margin.

Perhaps tablet makers could make a 'basic' tablet with basic functionality to draw people in, and change naysayers minds. Then they could lure them to deluxe models, with more functionality and upgraded HDD space?

But then, most companies want out of hardware altogether, as it is easier to make a huge margin on sweatshop-codehouse-created software.

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Silver badge

Android

What proportion of buyers do you think bought one of these with the intention of waiting for Android to be ported to it?

And by the looks of it, the proportion of profiteers who had no interest in the system at all was pretty high.

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bep

Vertical integration

is the key here.

Here in Oz there are basically two steel companies. One is in the news with big lay-offs and plant closures. It's being killed by the rising costs of inputs - coal and iron ore, thanks to Chinese competition for the resources. Thanks to this its prices are uncompetitive. The other steel company owns its own coal and iron ore mines. It is making a tidy profit. As the previous poster pointed out, Apple has far more vertical integration. It doesn't own the manufacturers, but has long-term contracts, which is the next best thing. There is still risk involved in that, of course, you have to have products that sell, but if you get that rignt you get a) higher profits b) big barriers to entry for your competitors.

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Must be privately owned

It's good for the steel workers, it's good to hold a long term view about their industry and market place.

But it sounds pretty obvious that they could make more money selling the iron and coal than using it to make steel in Australia.

A public company would take the short term view, sell off the loss making steel foundries and profiteer on the coal and iron.

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bep

Publicly owned

A public company MIGHT take the short term view, sell off the PROFIT making steel foundries and profiteer on the coal and iron.

Fixed that for you.

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Holmes

Conclusion

High quality software with resilience and security and all those other good things - is expensive.

No ifs, no buts, no magic bullets.

Which is why the world in general uses 'good enough most of the time' software.

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Other lost devices

Anyone else remember the Tapwave Zodiac? Best PalmOS device there ever was. Went the same way; no-one wanted it until it was barely there any more. Lessons of history, and all that.

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Bronze badge

Yep.

Lovely product that just lacked phone / mobile data integration.

Still the best feel of any comparable device; solid and (literally) cool.

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