HP (NYSE: HPQ) is one of the world’s biggest and established tech companies, but if you look at its mobile division at the moment, it is giving a very good impression of a business that doesn’t know what it will be doing from one day to the next. A little over a week after saying that it would discontinue making mobile devices, today the company said that it would, in fact, produce another run of TouchPad tablets.
The company made the announcement in a blog post on its company blog, The Next Bench:
“Despite announcing an end to manufacturing webOS hardware, we have decided to produce one last run of TouchPads to meet unfulfilled demand. We don’t know exactly when these units will be available or how many we’ll get, and we can’t promise we’ll have enough for everyone. We do know that it will be at least a few weeks before you can purchase. See more information in the updated FAQs below.”
Some other key points:
» HP says that this really will be the final run of the TouchPad, and all device making will be finished by Q4 2011, which ends October 31.
» Orders will be limited to one device per person, to counter claims that people were bulk buying and then selling for a profit elsewhere.
» It’s not guaranteed that all retailers will sell the new stock at the earlier firesale prices. HP says it is up to individual retailers to decide how to handle this.
The news comes after reports earlier in the day by the Taiwan tech blog Digitimes that noted that component manufacturers were facing a glut of TouchPad components after HP’s decision to stop making devices earlier this month.
That report noted a specific oversupply of components for the unreleased seven-inch version of the tablet, the TouchPad Go: there is apparently have enough stock to make 100,000 TouchPad Go tablets.
It’s unclear whether HP will embark on producing a run of these smaller devices as well.
Nor is it clear where this new run of TouchPads will be sold — the original fire sales covered the U.S. and selected European markets. Update: The blog Mobot has confirmed that the new devices will only go to North America. Sorry, ROW.
The news will be welcomed by the many consumers who were suddenly desperate to own a TouchPad when the price for the 16GB model dropped down to $99 — and it should also be welcomed by the WebOS developer community, as it will mean another boost in users who might use their apps.
Investors in HP, however, might be less impressed: Electronista notes that it costs $300 to assemble a TouchPad, far more than the $99 and $149 sale prices for the 16GB and 32GB models. The cancelled device business could cost the company as much as $100 million.
One analyst, Benedict Evans, believes that HP may have sold between 200,000 and 300,000 TouchPads in the last 10 days at reduced pricing.