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The accidental userbase 98

by Derek Kessler Mon, 22 Aug 2011 2:17 pm EDT

HP cited poor adoption rates of the TouchPad as part of their reasoning for taking webOS hardware out back and shooting it dead. Shortly thereafter, HP issued the order to begin the firesale on the TouchPad, offering the webOS tablet for as little as $100 with the hope of clearing out the hundreds of thousands of TouchPads still in stock.

Since then, every retailer that’s reduced their pricing has seen their stock sell out in a matter of hours. Lines formed at Best Buy early in the morning when they announced their intention to sell the TouchPads they had left. The same happened at Harvey Norman in Australia. Even HP.com has been sold out for days, and they make made the TouchPad!

Meanwhile, webOS buzz and traffic has gone through the roof. You may have noticed that the PreCentral blog has been having difficulties – our server’s having trouble coping with the massive load (we’re working on it, we promise). The PreCentral Forums (which thankfully are on a more resilient server) have seen similarly astounding traffic. Last night the forums set a new record for simultaneous users – more than 10,000 – with traffic staying high through the weekend and into today. Heck, we had nearly a thousand new members join yesterday alone, the most we’ve seen since late 2009.

Additionally, developers are reporting that their app sales are up. Way up. Geoff Gauchet, the developer behind foursquare, neato!, and more posted on his development blog that downloads of his apps have seen a significant jump. Gauchet is not alone – a number of webOS developers have seen their app downloads spike over the weekend. The big question going forward (at least in the short term) is how where downloads will level off. As Gauchet noted, foursquare for webOS is now installed on 70% more TouchPads than HP Veer smartphones, so there’s a good chance we’ll see an elevation in download counts that will persist for some time, even without new webOS hardware hitting any time soon.

Congratulations, HP, you finally got that webOS userbase you always wanted. With TouchPads selling out at retailers across the globe, the TouchPad has likely solidified its position as the number two tablet behind the iPad. And all it took was some crazy cutthroat pricing and the threat of these devices never existing again.

Source: The Border Mail, Zhephree, thanks to Joshua for the tip!

Category:

98 Comments

lol

I believe this constitutes perfect use of the word 'irony'

someone said it best on twitter: entering into bizarro world when you have to sign up to get on an email list to tell you when a discontinued item is back in stock.

so ironic it hurts...

Welcome new users! I hope this surge will get other manufacturers interested in making WebOS devices. Hope HP enjoys their new life making enterprise software (oh boy!).

Welcome new webOSers, I am sure you will love webOS... If not, I will be happy to buy the Touchpad from you :-) webOS 4Ever!!

I genuinely love the bitterness in these articles directed at HP. xD

Welcome to WebOS, people!

The bitterness is earned, and well deserved

I can imagine that after new users get to know and love webos on thier touchpad they would be much more likely to buy a Pre3.

If HP sold the pre3 unlocked at a similar discount they could finally have a decent user base to build off of with new products once they get a hardware partner in place.

Eventually they could make up for lost profits, all on accident. Or they could just kill the whole thing. Knowing HP they probably do not understand this...

So true... It's like there's an obvious path paved for webOS to succeed, and at every chance HP decides to go off-roading.

Love the metaphor! And not just offroading, but offroading with racing slicks, two-wheel drive, no winch and a low-rider vehicle!

After announcing to the world that you're done with webOS hardware and suffering in the stock market for it, it would probably create more of a disaster to turn around a few days later and say "Well, not really. We've changed our mind...again."

they said they are killing hardware, never said WebOS software. They have an out if they decide to take it.

I was thinking this from the first moment I saw the press release. I am starting to think Leo is crazy like a fox. You think maybe he was thinking very long term? He envisioned how many people would run out to buy a decent, nay, good tablet for a fraction of the cost, thus getting WebOS into the hands of thousands. Who knew?

I don't think so.
I think Leo had a new and cunning plan - let's be like IBM and get rid of consumer hardware, after last years plan of being like Apple, which followed Carla Fiorinas plan to be like Dell.

Then the info was leaking early and they had no choice to publish their Grand New Strategy (details following later) last weak - while most of their own company had no idea what was coming.

And then they do a panicky firesale.
If I'm generous the firesale might be a halfway decent plan to create buzz and mindshare for an imminent deal for a webos licence. But sheer chaos is just as likely at Headless Poultry.

I'm certain that this is not about a cunning long term plan for HP to stay in the mobile consumer business. They just took a terrible beating on tne stock market, incur hefty losses with the firesale and damaged their brand. In addition they want to concentrate on the enterprise market and the cloud - but their servers keep failing due to the firesale demand.

Meanhile middle management still seem to be clueless, employee morale can't be great atm, their best engineers are probably sending out their resumes and top management around the CEO don't seem to be on top of things. Most of their recent press releases were content-poor spin-doctoring bla bla.

Wow.

Love the irony.

@Darren.DC, that will happen only if those manufacturers are interested in selling said devices at a loss. Otherwise, they could make very cheap tablets but then you're back to the 2009 Palm Pre situation.

I don't think so. HP showed they were only willing to beat the first ipad in hardware. Unlike Samsung who immediately redesigned their Galaxy tab.

I think HTC and Samsung will be more anxious to use a new OS now that Google and Motorola have joined forces.

That's just wishful thinking. No one has expressed a desire to dump Android yet and the Google/Motorola deal is not final. The reality is simple, people reacted to a fire sale. Assuming more than that is a setup for disappointment.

Agreed. I love the optimism, but I can't see it working.

Sure they are going to work on the OS...but to meet the needs of customers who aren't even theirs?

Their work on the OS is going to revolve around THEIR needs for the OS.Which are apparently not phones or tablets.

we are number 2, H/P dont give up on TP, announce something w Samsung pronto, make Bradley (NOT LEO) dish out some love. DO IT.

Im starting to think, this was a very good idea by making the TP's $99!!! (I got my 4, me, the wife and the kids) and no, not even thinking about putting nothing on ebay like the other several thousand sellers trying to make a quick buck!

Ditto! Already owned two launch day TPs for self and wife. Got 4 extra TPs from OfficeDepot. 3 will go to each of my kids, and the 4th will probably serve as a backup in case any of the other 5 gets damaged beyond repair.

This 4th one is cheaper than the one year accidental damage fee Best Buy is charging.

So I got $590 reimbursed for one of my two launch day TouchPads at Best Buy yesterday. I only wish Staples would honor the same price match for my second launch day TP.

Reach out to HP directly if Staples doesn't honor the difference. But Staples really should. I believe HP already said they would make up the difference with the retailers.

I can't remember a more unpredictable or bewildering series of events in the corporate sphere.

As a diehard I DON'T KNOW HOW TO FEEL

One thing's for sure - following webOS is never boring.

People ask me all the time why I read/post in here (as a Mac user and someone who hasn't used a Pre since January 2010).

You nailed it: its never boring!

And the posts on this site are positive again. That's such a nice relief and hope it stays that way!

Yeah! Do you noticed how the Apple and Android fanboy comments weren't downranked during the announcement of HP (Something almost always happens, except at that BREAKING article), but the positive ones didn't left at 0?

Check this site just as much as I ever did when I had a pre 4 months ago. It's always active, interesting and full of great discussions and members

winning? Its too good (webos) to just let die on the vine (do that with android please). @hp #savewebos

I do sorta get the rumor that hp was forced to make the announcement ahead of the licensing deal bc of being ousted by the press.. thats the only thing that makes any real sense on what they did when they did it.

I think that Leo wanted to get out of the hardware business and it did it so badly on purpose, just to make impossible to anybody inside HP (hardware executives,shareholders or the board) to force him to reconsider that option.

+1

It wasn't on purpose. That would be insane.

They are just incompetent - not insane.

I'm starting to get tired of the blue theme of this site. It was originally switched to blue from green as a tribute to HP, if I recall.

Now that myself, the editors, and other members despise HP, I think it's time for a facelift.

How about an old-school Palm orange? Let's get back to our webOS roots. Before webOS was bought by a shortsighted greedy company.

Of course really old, old school Palm would be the exact same blue the site now has since the Palm logo was originally blue and got switched to orange as part of the rebranding a few years after Palm bought Handspring and brought back its original management team of Jeff Hawkins, Ed Colligan, and Donna Dubinski.

How about black...

If this is some crazy marketing scheme, the person who came up with should be commended. Sadly, I'm sure it's just over...I went to android (2 months ago) for a new phone but was hoping to come back to webOS when new phones were released.

Why would you install foursquare on a tablet?

Without a cellular radio....

That's not particularly portable.....

o_O

Edit: Love the reading comprehension failures in the replies....

Use FreeTether on your Pre! Or do checkins from within your home's Wifi network ;-)

A man who is not mayor of his own home. This man, is not a real man.

The tablet uses Wifi location to find you. It's quite accurate when I'm at home. Haven't tried it out and about yet.

my wifi connection seems more accurate then the gps...ive used it at home and at work so far, pretty accurate

With WiFi hotspots and FreeTether on your webOS phone, why do you need a cellular radio in your tablet?

The TP uses google location services and can usually pin you down pretty well without GPS.

I never really looked into foursquare before... is it really just a geotagging site to let stalkers find you?

Long LIVE WebOS!!

I was waiting on the Pre3 before buying a Touchpad. Come on HP - you pitched them as the perfect pair back in February. What a total blunder! Hype... wait (and wait some more) and then you release the Touchpad but not the Pre3. I've never seen such a mismanaged product introduction. It would have taken a miracle to overcome the disaster HP produced. I hope somebody with some business savvy buys webOS. I wouldn't trust anything with the HP name on it. If they botch things this royally in the public arena can you imagine how shoddy their management of manufacturing is?

I think this indicates that the lack of demand was price based. Such that if they'd priced the TP correctly, they'd have seen more sales. Frankly, I'm not sure that $99 is the correct price point either. The fact that there are lines indicates that the price is too low. In fact, if HP comes out with another round of TP firesale, I suspect the prices will be higher.

I think that the floating prices that you see on ebay and amazon are probably closer to the market clearing price. So I wonder if HP had set the original price of the TP to $300 if that'd have been the right price point. I suspect that they'll raise the price in the firesale to $150 for 16GB, but that's just a random guess.

But my real curiosity is this: Considering that the price to build the TP was $318, could they take an $18 per unit loss rather than spend the money on marketing? That represents 6% of the cost of building the unit. Is 6% a high cost for marketing or low? Could they have taken a loss on the unit sales in order to make up for it (eventually) on sales from the app catalog?

I wish HP would run that experiment.

A very smart question, but sadly I think we'll never know...

How many times can you lose $18 in exchange of not losing 20% of your market capitalization (i.e. about $10,000,000,000) *and* getting a consistent installed base?

I am sure that some of HP shareholders have their idea on this and I hope they will act accordingly when evaluating the wonderful new strategy of the company they own.

If a company is basically giving away a product it will increase demand regardless. HP is actually paying the cutomers to take it off their hands lol. If Apple announced a sale on ipad 2 for $100 everyone would go out and buy one regardless if they want it or not.

Dumping can be useful to boost the installed base and stimulate adoption. Once you've reach a critical mass, you can progressively get back to higher prices.

So after this $99/$149 firesale, I think any new webOS tablet (presumably made by someone else) would have to have much better specs and they couldn't price it nearly as high as the original TP launch prices. I'd say no more than $299 for a TP2.

Of course $99 is crazy low. They would also have sold out quickly if they had sold the 16 GB TP at 149 or 199. Might have taken a few days longer and the servers might not have cracked.

To see the real market price (or at least best approximation we can can find) - look at ebay.

I've been following ebay prices for TPs since last Friday.

I bet many of the devices were bought by opportunistic traders who saw a quick bug and acted.
No TP sold for less than 200 Euros the last 3 days and many/most go over 300. Price might fall a bit this week when all those trader TPs get dumped on ebay quickly - but I bet they'll stay > 200 Euros.

But I agree mostly with your thinking about the price point - though with a variation.

They should have sold the first generation at $350-400 - including a $50-100 app credit.

Say they ask $399 - but you get $50 app catalog credit. So they can market that as $349 which is a fairly cheap tablet. It costs HP less than the $50 they give you because they get 30% of that. So for HP it's like they sold at $364. Considering the retailers cut HP wouldn't have made money from the first generation (probably even lost some - but not much - marketing cost to get market share).

With $50 per new TP owner that you can only spend on apps - the devs would get a lot of sales making webos a nice target platform. Perhaps even better than Android after a short while.

Meanwhile develop an improved TP for xmas business. Sell that at a higher price and start to make some money at years and while market share and buzz increased.

I agree that they should have sold the TP for less AND included an app catalog credit to make the bottom-line lower for consumers and support developers and encourage more app development. They should have launched the TP at $299 and included a $50 app credit, I think.

WebOS lover here, who after going through a couple of busted Pre (-), finally decided to go to the Evo. It nearly killed me...well, not really, but in a way....I really had my fingers crossed that we'd see some cool stuff come out of the HP thingy....ah well....

Here's what I think....HP will recognize the stupidity of their decision what with the massive buyoff of TP's currently taking place, and say "Hmm...perhaps we were a bit hasty." I mean lets face it, it's a money game...always...and if they think that theres a chance for ten or twenty million to be made still, I'd like to think they would be wise enough to alter their course yet again.

Could be wrong...wouldnt be the first time.

I lurk a lot here and never post, maybe twice in four years...bullocks to those who say webOS is dead or inferior...the entire time I used my Pre (-) it was far and above the best operating system on a mobile phone...Evo is like using a childs toy to me.

Interesting. But apparently the cost to manufacture a TP is over $300. Still, with the new unproven version of the OS and very limited apps at launch, they should have essentially sold the 1st gen TP at cost just to build the ecosystem and get some market share. And then if they were successful in getting people to adopt webOS, they could plan to make a small profit on TP2.

its one thing that it is selling out like crazy... it will be another, and alot more meaningful, for all these new touchpad users to absolutely fall in love with the OS, resulting in a user-base marketing for potential licensees. lets hope that happens and im sure HTC or samsung will want to get webos on their devices.

webos vs android could begin very shortly.

'knock off the hippie s.hit,strap on a helmet and start shooting'
--ari gold

i cant see how all these people will use webos and not come away recognising how superior it is to android and ios.

Now lets see the apps coming, this is their last chance!

**** I'll take the webOS hardware division off their hands, hire a few of my own folks, and roll in dough...really I don't mind.

Count me in, I'll be director of marketing!

Loyal Pre minus Sprint user here.

I tried right up to the last minute. I tried in vain all day Saturday to get one (TP) at Walmart, BestBuy, etc and got bupkiss. Nada, zip.

So I said good-bye and went to the HTC EVO 3D and it's a great unit. It is very slick. I'll be used to the navigational differences quickly and with the help of a Android guru buddy of mine, I'll have her all set up by tomorrow.

Oh yeah. Having 8 gigs of space is killer. Oh, then I ordered a 32 gig chip to have all kinds of room for music. HP, I said it before, you suck. If HTC or Samsung starts licensing your WebOS, I'll like it but please take your time, the longer you wait, the more everyone else will find their way, without you.

(...)
With TouchPads selling out at retailers across the globe
(...)

Is not 'exaclty' across the globe, but only in few countries.

Here, in Brazil, no shadow of Touchpad, for example... :-(

Best Regards... B)

big problem i they had to sell it for 99 dollars for people to buy it. The other is when you're blowing $332 mill a it's hard to justify doing it for another quarter just go burn through another 300 million.

and if you can believe it. HP got an upgrade from hold to buy.

Didn't HAVE TO sell it at $99 if the CEO wold have been a little more savvy. They were selling briskly after the first (more modest) discount.

But after the bridge was burned with everyone by the "we are out of the webOS hardware business but not the software business"(?), they were left with few options as nobody has confidence in the plan... or that they even have a plan.

HP's fatal mistake was thinking they could sell the inferior hardware and unproven OS 1st gen HP TouchPad at the same price as market-leader iPad. If they were such fcking idiots they would have priced it appropriately at launch (even $349 for 16GB and $399 for 32GB would have sold a whole lot more than they did).

Wouldn't it just be funny (or awesome, rather) if the boom in sales was just what their plan was in the first place....a strange and risky business move, but god it would make me laugh.

This whole event reminded me of something T-Shirt **** did a few years ago. They made a big announcement that they were going out of business and putting on a last minute sale. On the last day of the sale, they released an announcement stating it was a joke to see if people would buy more shirts. And sure enough people did.

T-Shirt **** is still in business. Unfortunately, I don't foresee that being what HP is trying to do here, despite how effective it might have been.

That would be great! But, I don't think Leo MedicineMan has the savvy or the brains to come up with a plan like that.

I think this should have a positive effect for WebOS - now that so many people bought the tablets because of the low pricing, a lot more will use it and will realize the true value of WebOS and the great usability it has. Now it should gain enough traction and potentially have other companies try to buy the license from HP OR buy WebOS itself!

I just got my touchpad. Bought it at B&H website 3 days before HP Doomsday News. I paid $500+ for the Touchpad with accesories. I called them and they gave honor to the new price. Im a first time webOS user and like it aloooot better than android or Apple. THIS IS A GREAT OS and the TOUCHPAD is excellent. :)

B&H is an awesome website with awesome customer service. I've been buying photo and video gear from them since 2000.

Welcome! I've loved webOS from the start and I think you will too. Install Preware, don't be afraid, it'll make the experience even better.

Only marginally better at this point, however. There are hardly any TouchPad-specific apps or patches in Preware at this point. I do like that it allowed me to add two more launcher pages and gave me Internalz and Govnah.

"the threat of these devices never existing again" is misleading. It's not a "threat" but reality. I love WebOS as much as the next diehard but HP has called it quits. I got the message.

HP found the perfect price point. Take what it costs to manufacture the tablet and subtract $200. That's the sweet spot. Spend a bunch on marketing. Problem solved. You just have to be willing to lose about $350 on each device sold.

True but that's only looking at part of the picture. Remember that they make a killing on accessories still and they get 30% of a developers profits! There's other area's they will benefit as well.

The accessories look like high-margin to me and most users will get a Touchstone at least.

But the app market is not the way to get $300 back - just to get back to cost.

They get 30% - so to get $300 devs need to sell $1000 worth of apps - on average for *every* TP user.
Did you plan to buy $1000 worth of apps this year?
Let's say on average an app costs $5 - that's 200 apps - for the average user.

That doesn't seem likely to me.
And that's just to get the costs back - They would have to sell a lot more apps to get decently profitable.

If they funneled money into predetermined "fire sale" dates instead of celebrity advertising, I think a lot more hype would have grown organically. Almost enough to legitimize keeping the device development team around. With that said, welcome new webOS users!

Paratrooper HD just had it's biggest day ever yesterday so I can confirm the trend!

When will people realize that the issue with Webos is not the hardware but the software. If they can somehow get webos running smooth like IOS and Android maybe just maybe more people would appreciate it. When you have to wait 10+ seconds for a basic app to open or the touchscreen not responding it ruins the experience. Webos apps are so tiny so I don't get why they take so long or why the UI is so laggy. It has been two years and they have yet to address the problem. If I paid $500 for the touchpad I would returned it right away.

You must have a demo unit or something. It does not take 10+ seconds for a basic app (or any app for that matter) to open on the stock TP. I used the stock version for 2 weeks before "upgrading" the software.

Assuming there is something wrong with your particular install of webOS, then, if you feel up to it, doctor the TP, install preware, install the patches that removes all the logging that goes on in the background. Then reboot the TP and see what the experience is like after that.

If you really feel like pushing the envelope, install one of the testing kernels and overclock the TP to 1.7Mhz.

Hey thanks for the suggestions. I hadn't installed the patches to remove logging so I'm trying that. I'm also switching to Uberkernel to see how that feels. But I don't have any real complaints about TP performance even before doing these things. Some apps take a few seconds to launch but it's not a big deal. Now let's see how it is with these tweaks...hmmm.

The software isn't flawless - but it's not the main problem. On the contrary - even with the flaws it has (and none are flawless) it's the best OS out there.

Basic apps don't need 10 seconds. If yours do - then something specific is wrong with your unit. That's *not* normal.

The apps selection is a major problem (not for me personally actually- but I acknowledge that it is a problem).

In general, I'm finding the TouchPad to be FAR faster and more responsive than my Acer Iconia A500 Android Honeycomb 3.1 tablet. There is a slight issue with how long it takes to launch apps on the TouchPad as compared to Android but the TP is definitely a lot faster than my Pre-.

As for phone-based apps that show up in a little window, I've already removed most of the ones that came down with my Palm Profile. They're pretty pointless on the tablet unless they offer some unique functionality that you can't yet get in a tablet app. Fortunately, I've found tablet-optimized alternatives for most of those apps anyway.

Even The Wall Street Journal has picked up on the $99 TouchPad frenzy: http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/113366/cheap-hp-tablets-tou...

Welcome to webOS, once you seem webOS work, the precentral community and the homebrew gods, you will see how people become loyal to it. It'll be hard to leave or if you do, you'll keep your eye watching all the magic you wish you had or you will say "I used to be able to do that".

I like to see a poll of our weekend new users after a month of using webOS how it compares to what they used in that past, if they stayed or went back to what they were using. Would be interesting.

I had an interesting conservation Friday night with an android user staples employeee, he remember me from coming in to look at the touchpad, funny how he must have seem hundreds of people in staples with school shopping and he remembers the girl who came to see the touchpad. He said to me , so what to you think of hp dropping webOS, I just said I don't think much of it other than it's a very stupid move by hp and don't count it down and out just yet, you'd be surprised and as long as there is the homebrew community I'm not worried. He then went to say, it really make you think if Apple has something to do with this, especially AT&T canceling their order, after all they are AT&T biggest phone. He said some of his friends have the pre 2 and love it. I wonder if anyone is checking bank accounts because it a round about way it makes sense, the touchpad and pre on better hardware could compete with the ipad and iphone

The thing failed under two companies and on every carrier in every country where it was "launched". Yet what makes sense is a conspiracy theory that Apple may have convinced AT&T to cancel their order and thus rendered webOS moot? Really?

While I do believe that Apple can be pretty evil and annoyig at times - I don't buy the conspiracy theory.

AT&T probably cancelled because the got wind of the news (that HP is dumping its consumer hardware business).

I also bet that's the real reason Best Buy got upset.

hey, I'm in that photo! Long time Palm fan, first time webOS user. Still trying to get to grips with the Touchpad. Very impressive.

So has anyone called HP (specifically Leo-tard A$$thumper) to ask:

Q. "So, now seeing the user base for webOS skyrocket, do you think you may have been a bit hasty at dropping the platform or do you still walk around with your head up your a$$ all day?"

A. "oh, I still walk around like that - I enjoy the smell - it reminds me of my thought process during crucial decision making."

Want to see something funny? Look what Tigerdirect.com is selling Touchpads for:

http://www.tigerdirect.com/sectors/campaigns/include/hp_touchPad.asp?srk...

what the?

LOL

Yep. Tigerdirect.com apparently didn't get the memo. You'd think they would be one of the early ones to jump on the price reduction. So them being late to the party may mean that once they update their prices on the Touchpads, they'll still have stock for sale, since no one is stupid enough to pay full price for a 16GB Touchpad now.

# 2 behind the iPad????!!! That's like saying a homeless soupline is #2 behind a 5 star restaurant just because they get similar amounts of traffic?

If the touchpad was $50.00 higher $150.00, you would still have a problem selling it.

Nope. Even with the platform almost killed by HP atm - look at ebay. People are buying them for 200-300 from private sellers where they can't get warranty or support.

If HP had done this firesale at twice the price you still wouldn't be able to get one at the end of the week. Would have taken a few days more (instead of selling out within hours) - but they would have lost less money. Which makes me wonder why they prices them this very low.
I have 2 possible explanations:
a) HP doesn't know what they are doing (well possible after recent news).
b) They are taking extra losses short term to create a lot of buzz as part of a deal to sell/licence webos. (this is the generous explanation)

I assume a) is true.

Welcome to WEBOS!!!

Well, until the Android port you got the touchpad for goes through anyway...

All I can hope is that the Homebrew Comm. get the touchpad and iPhone to play nice together over Bluetooth....I want my iPhone to work like a Pre3 with my new toy!!! PLEASE!