HP TouchPad, Part One: Acquisition

Part one of a two or three-part series on the HP TouchPad and webOS

If only HP weren’t one of the biggest names in tech. If only the right hand knew what the left hand was up to at HP. If only one of the most notable tech companies had a bit more direction, if only the tech giant had a little more vision, if only their major decisions weren’t seemingly decided by a roll of a d20 die. Maybe if they weren’t under the leadership of someone who wasn’t the best fit for the job.

If only, if only, if only.

If only HP had any idea what they were doing, then I might not have been able to experience (the really quite stellar at times) webOS.

I, of course, refer to the HP TouchPad, the second of two HP products in as many months. Only the TouchPad is a little different: it’s not insanely discounted like the MicroServers were, it’s actually discontinued, and HP were getting rid of them altogether in a never-to-be-repeated fire sale. $98 for the 16GB Wi-Fi only version, and $148 for the $32GB.

My story starts on a bus, like so many do. I was reading on one particular website about how HP Australia were also going to get in on the TouchPad fire sale action – you see, by this time the sales in the US had been going swimmingly for at least a few days after HP pulled the plug, and HP Aust apparently thought it a good idea to get a slice of this pie, too.

Anyway, I was on a bus (after handing in an assignment, I believe) reading about how the sole retailer of HP TouchPads in Australia were Harvey Norman, the electronics and basically-everything-else franchise, and about how they had been told by HP Australia that they were to sell it off, starting at 2pm. I made two short phone calls to two Harvey Norman stores in my area, who, naturally, had no idea what I was going on about, nor had they received any communication from higher up about any fire sale.

I got off the bus in town, and hurriedly told a colleague that the TouchPad fire sale was about to go down. We both agree that it’s a pretty fantastic deal for the money, and after i tell him I’m heading to HN to take a look around, he urges me to buy one for him — at this time it was about 1:30, perhaps 1:40pm, and I was still vaguely skeptical that this fire sale would even happen in little old Hobart. I walk the few blocks to the nearest Harvey Norman… only to e greeted with a line about 6 or so deep (nerds, every single one of them, with a few suits for good measure). “Is this the line for the HP TouchPad?” was met with excited grins and nods, taps on noses. Bingo.

1:50pm, and a HN employee comes and confirms that they will indeed be selling the HP TouchPad at the advertised prices. Cue sigh of relief from all the nerds in the queue, yours truly included. I begin working out whether I’ve got enough cash in my bank account for two TouchPads.

1:55pm, and a HN employee comes to tell us that there’s only a few 16GB models but plenty of 32GB stock. He also confirms that there’s a limit of one per customer; good news for me as I can now probably afford the 32GB model, but not-so-great news for my colleague who might miss out. I quickly call him and deliver the news. By this time the line is easily tens of people deep; not bad for good old’ Slobart, hey?

Fifteen minutes later, and I’m out the door. $148 poorer but with a pretty big grin on my face. A small rendezvous with my colleague reveals he sprinted the few blocks to the HN store after getting my call and managed to score himself a 32GB model, just like me.

His grin is just as large, too.

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