Tag: touchpad

HP survivor finally flees the board

Long-time director Larry Babbio has finally left the boardroom of the maker of expensive printer ink, HP.

Babbio has announced, along with fellow directors Sari Baldauf and Dominique Senequier, that he will not stand for reelection at an upcoming shareholders’ meeting on March 21.

His exit is quite significant because he has been warming a seat in the HP boardroom since 2002. He managed to survive the infamous wire-tapping incident in 2005, when a scandal involving eavesdropping on directors and journalists forced then-Chairwoman Patricia Dunn to resign.

Both Babbio and Baldauf were part of a board that presided over the company during the so-called “pretexting” scandal.

Babbio was a vice chairman and president of Verizon Communications and came onto the board when HP bought Compaq. He saw the removal of Carly Fiorina, the acquisition of EDS, the buyout of Palm for $1.2 billion and the bidding war with Dell over 3Par. He has also seen more CEOs rule the company and some high-profile sackings.

The board has been slammed for allowing HP to suffer over the years and in the last 12 months has seen a number of high profile exits.

There have been six new directors, including chief exec Meg Whitman and investor Ralph Whitworth, principal of Relational Investors.

Last year, of the 13 directors re-elected to HP’s board last March, 10 joined the board in 2009 or later. 

HP TouchPad Go starts to appear

The maker of expensive printer ink –  HP has been showing off its HP TouchPad Go tablet to reviewers.

While it is not clear if the WebOS tablet will ever see the light of day, webOS Nation got its hands on one of the very few 7-inch TouchPad Go.

IT said that the Go is simply just a smaller version of the TouchPad, though it has a 1023 x 768 resolution and runs on webOS.

It also comes with a removable cover with soft-touch coating which minimising fingerprints on the 7-inch screen.

Also, on the plus side, the beast has a removable battery, 32GB of storage, a 3G radio and a five-megapixel camera and LED flash.

But the dark satanic rumour mill suggests that HP is never likely to release the tablet having been bitten by the failure of its larger relative.

HP started to sell the Touchpad for $99 in a bid to clear it from its warehouses. The TouchPad Go was slated to appear around the same time as the larger model, but it failed to reach the production stage when the company decided to kill off all devices running on the doomed webOS.

But some also seem to think that the firesale proved to HP that the WebOS has a chance if it is flogged cheaply and therefore the Go might actually get released. Although the Verge  has spotted some going up on Ebay.

We would not hold our breath for this one. HP has lost a lot of money on the TouchPad and it is unlikely to want to “go” back for more.


HP to flog refurbished Touchpads on eBay

The maker of printer ink which is more valuable than human blood is about to flog off shedloads of its TouchPads again.

This time HP plans to sell its Touchpads for $99 on eBay. Apparently it has loads of refurbished ones sitting out the back which it wants to get rid of to make way for something which can make it money. We don’t know what HP has in mind, but given its current situation we would have thought the distribution of heroin might be looking fairly attractive.

The Touchpad fire sale did create a lot of excitement that the tablet never managed to when it first hit the market, and it was widely seen as value for money.

It’s a little strange that they have chosen to flog their goods through an eBay auction over the traditional retail sale.

According to Electronista, the eBay auction starts on 11 December at 6 PM. Each punter can walk off with two tablets each. HP is not saying how many units will go on sale.

The refurbished models will be available on a first come first served basis, for the same price as last time: the 16GB model will be available for $99 and the 32 GB version for $149.

There is also a $79 accessory bundle which will also be available, which includes a case, charging dock and wireless keyboard.

Word on the street is that HP is not finished with WebOS, which powers the tablet. An HP executive claimed that the development team is still working on long-term projects to continue improving the OS.

There has been one WebOS update, despite plans to discontinue products made with it. 

TouchPad chassis still mysteriously cracking

HP, the company which most recently hadn’t a clue what it was doing or where it was going, is maintaining a kind of hush about a design fault with its quickly-flogged bargain bucket TouchPads.

The WebOS devices were offered on the cheap to punters as the rumours flew about HP shutting down its product division. Still, in a statement, HP said it remained  committed to WebOS and would continue to offer customer support.

Users in the UK are still finding their devices cracking for no reason at all, around the headphone jack. At first HP didn’t want to know, asking one reader if it was a scratch. HP was pretty certain it was a scratch – it wasn’t.

It’s no surprise that HP staffers at Mobile World Congress 2010 denied guests at the HP Pavillion from putting their paws on the sensitive device.  

Despite maintaining a silence on an obvious design fault here in the UK, the fact is, HP is aware of the problem.

A customer services spokesperson for the company told us today it’s a “known issue” and confirmed that it was a design flaw in the first runs of the product. HP is quietly replacing the cases and it is under warranty.

Even though there’s evidence to the contrary, HP’s communication team says the dodgy manufacturing is “not an issue in the UK” and is not offering any further comment. 

Law firm suspects HP directors misled everyone

Hewlett Packard faces the gavel over ousted CEO and Sapman, Action Apotheker allegedly sacking over 500 employees from the Palm Global Business Unit amid a fog of misleading trickery.

Law firm Hagens Berman quotes Apotheker earlier this year talking up the success of WebOS. “We are all about WebOS,” he said, and “there will be wave after wave of technology coming out to support the WebOS platform.”

Hagens Berman wonders if and when HP began talks behind its own executive iron curtain, questioning the future of the home PC business and the real mileage in WebOS. HP’s surprise announcement to end the production of WebOS prompted the investigations.

Additionally, Hagens Berman suspects that the class action lawsuit, filed by investors who bought HP stock between last November and this August, has lead to a certain amount of scapegoating.

The complaint says Apotheker and CFO Charine Lesjak were both misleading to investors by saying the PC and WebOS segments were key to HP’s business. 

Now, with Whitman replacing Action Man Apotheker as CEO, it appears the head of investor relations Steve Fieler and chief communications officer Bill Wohl might be out the door. In a statement, Hagens Berman’s Reed R. Kathrein, wonders “whether Steve and Bill are being made scapegoats for deliberately misleading internal communication by the executive team”.

Kathrein points out that dumping entire businesses is not the kind of strategy decided on in a day. “We suspect we will learn that the HP executive team was putting on a poker face,” Kathrein continues, “when in reality it knew the WebOS hardware and personal computer businesses were in jeopardy.”

Hagens Berman is encouraging whistleblowers to come forward on the back of SEC legislation which keeps them protected. 

Apple still reigns in UK tablet market

If there’s one thing the people of Britain like, it’s binge drinking. But if there is more than one thing, they’re also into tablet computers, at least according to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech [sic] and its tablet tracker.

Of course, what this means at the moment is that people enjoy using the iPad. The next nearest competition is from Samsung’s Galaxy range, holding a massive six percent, which is way, way too much Apple’s lawyers will agree. 

What is interesting about the forecast is that the beancounters expect the tablet trend to continue.

Thanks partly due to all the adverts last Christmas, consumer awareness of the luxury devices is at an all time high in the UK. Of the people it asked, the researchers found roughly a third  fancied some sort of tablet next year, but were not sure which brand to go for.

Of course, it’s no surprise Apple’s iPad remains the top dog. Most people on the street will be more aware of the iPad than tablets in general, it was the first to market, caused the tablet boom, and spurred copycats. Apple did not invent the tablet but it did rebrand it and make it desirable.

With others on the ropes thanks to aggressive legal footwork from Apple, it’s tough to see a competitor in plain sight, but perhaps Google will manage something now that it has the hardware weight of Motorola on its side.

Windows 8 should be some kind of spanner in the works if Microsoft does it right.

Earlier this year, we heard how Samsung execs were surprised at the popularity of their devices, despite coming a clear second, because the first generation was only on the market for the sake of being on the market.

Meanwhile, HP pulled its TouchPad from the shelves. At a knock down price on its way out, the device sold like hot cakes and is proof that competition is possible if you can get the price right.

HP spends hundreds refunding the two early webOS adopters

At HP we always think about you, but only with the help of Captain Hindsight, according to the latest bizarre turn in shutting down its hardware decision.

As customers went crazy for a cheap tablet in the HP TouchPad, the two early buyers were both left feeling put out. They saw products they shelled out hundreds and hundreds for selling for as little as £89.

Apotheker declared he wanted HP to pull out of attempting innovation and fun, scrapping products and releasing the many remaining TouchPads on the cheap.

Now, the two early adopters, believed to be Leo Apotheker and Carly Fiorina, will have their Compaqs refunded. The compensation will match the price difference between the cut-rate products and their original prices, and applies to the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models, as well as the Pre3.

It’s a shame for webOS, really, which had a lot of promise and could have been implemented a long time ago to better effect. Either way, HP claims to be fully committed to webOS and the TouchPad, it just has some interesting ideas about how to show it.

At least buyers will be able to enjoy shiny rectangles with very few apps to test the waters on this whole tablet business, before they give up the ghost and just buy an iPad instead.

SAPman Apotheker resurrects HP TouchPad

HP has decided it will keep producing TouchPads, now that everyone wants one. At least for one final run.

The demand has been staggering, which is probably because they were going for only $100, proving that all you have to do is work out a way to strongly undercut Apple on price to seduce the consumer. 

SAPman Apotheker didn’t like the idea of HP producing anything appealing, and besides, Apple was still screwing it for demand on its expensive new entry to the tablet market anyway.

The TouchPad was around for just six weeks before the plug was pulled and HP contemplates what it is going to do with products groups. Conflicting reports internally put all involved in an awkward situation, with HP PSG UK releasing a statement reassuring everyone that machines will be supported until the warranties are through, and webOS will be supported. Which isn’t what Apotheker said.*

Well, it will be supported for a short time anywy. On a post from the bog, Mark Budgell says it’ll be a couple of weeks before the final run is available. However, there are no details about how many, where and exactly when you’ll be able to buy one.

It’s also not clear if HP will be sticking to its $100 price point or try a last-minute attempt to put the squeeze on keen customers with an eye for a bargain.

Still, HP won’t have much of a tough time with supply. Taiwanese manufacturers are sitting on heaps upon heaps of components for the tablet which was sent to the gallows. Reports from sources over there say there’s enough to build 100,000 seven inch TouchPads. 

*EyeSee The word here in Silicon Valley among top analysts is the decision was “stupid”.

Taiwanese vendors left with mountain of HP TouchPad components

HP’s sudden decision to dump the TouchPad has left many of its Taiwanese manufacturers in the lurch, according to Digitimes.

The wire said that the manufacturers built up supplies in readiness for a seven inch version of the TouchPad, but now they just don’t know what to do with themselves.

There’s enough components to build 100,000 seven inch TouchPads, the report said and were going to start building them at the end of third quarter, but now they’re keeping on waiting.

While the local branch of HP, the report said, wanted to find a way to keep the suppliers happy, a decision is awaited from Cupertino before the matter can be resolved.

Until then, Digitimes said, companies like Inventec are maintaining their relationship with HP. Inventec, for example, builds notebooks and servers that come with the HP brand.

HP's Touchpad success is a warning to iPad rivals

HP’s decision to flog off all its Touchpad tablets at bargain basement prices is teaching the industry the sort of lesson that many Apple rivals do not want to hear.

HP flogged its Touchpad for £89 because it did not want it hanging around any more. Not surprisingly it was a huge success. But it did show that tablets will sell if the price is cheap enough. OK, £89 is an offer you could not refuse, but think how many tablets are on sale for £400 which is dangeriously close to Apple’s pricing.

Generally it costs about £180 to make a tablet. Jobs decided that he would add a huge mark-up and perhaps get a few subsidies from phone companies.

Jobs could do that. He has a legion of fanboys who will buy whatever he asks and a Tame Apple Press primed to release rubbish about what value for money it is.

The other iPad makers have none of these things. They are also stuck with the problem that in copying Jobs they are producing more or less the same product for the same price. The tablet is still a product waiting for an application. It remains a keyboardless netbook.

iPad rivals need to understand that they have a free and simple operating system which mirrors anything that Apple can do – all they need to do is push the cost of the tablet way down, perhaps getting a few subsidy deals with phone companies. The price they should be aiming for for a reasonable tablet is about £250 with cheap and cheerful models around £100-£150. They could then make money back with application stores or other content deals.

What the manufacturers have tried to do, and they are continuing to do it, is keep prices up to improve margins. Falling margins is one of the reasons why HP wants to get out of the PC business.

However, the lower prices of PCs is here to stay, particularly in the current economic climate, it is better for manufacturers to set up partnerships so that they can flog their gear even cheaper.

The message of HP’s fire sale is that the cost of the tablet is too high and to get the tablet accepted, people are going to have to sell a lot of them first.

Manufacturers are doing the same thing to the Ultrabook, which actually are a more sensible alternative to tablets. Intel has warned them that they are trying to ship the technology at a price too high to be adopted. But they do not seem to be listening.