Harvey Norman pulls HP TouchPad from sale


news Giant retailer Harvey Norman has reportedly instructed its retailers to stop selling HP’s doomed TouchPad tablet and offer those who had bought it refunds, just four days after it had gone on sale locally and with development of the iPad competitor having been cancelled in the US overnight.

The tablet went on sale on Monday this week, principally through retailer Harvey Norman, following a glitzy media launch locally just several weeks ago. The device had already launched in the US some months ago, with analysts anticipating it would be one of the main competitors to Apple’s iPad. However, in the US overnight and following reports of poor sales, HP revealed it would discontinue operations for webOS devices, “specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones”.

This morning Harvey Norman deleted the TouchPad from its online catalogue, although its franchisees were continuing to sell the device, with some believed to have no knowledge of the global pullback. By this afternoon, and reportedly following a meeting between HP and Harvey Norman in Australia, the situation had dramatically changed.

“Harvey Norman … has instructed its franchisees to take all stocks of the tablet off shelves, contact customers who purchased it, and offer them a full refund or credit for another purchase,” reported The Australian newspaper this afternoon.

Harvey Norman’s general manager for its computers and communications division, Ben McIntosh, has not returned calls on the matter, while HP Australia has declined to comment, directing enquiries to HP’s global press releases on the matter.

Telsyte research director Foad Fadaghi said he expected some form of “pragmatic approach” to existing stock from HP. He noted that there might be a surge of demand from collectors and bargain hunters for the TouchPad devices, now that the line had been cancelled.

In general, Fadaghi noted the TouchPad had not been very well-received by reviewers and analysts. “We’re not anticipating the units will sell extremely well in Australia,” he said. “We didn’t anticipate that they would in the first place.”

The analyst noted he didn’t believe the market would support “so many” vendors of very similar products, with half a dozen competing Android manufacturers also having entered the local tablet space to take on dominant player Apple, as well as BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion.

Delimiter’s review of the TouchPad found it had “many flaws”. “Laggy performance is only half the problem – the paucity of tablet-optimised apps coupled with a complete absence of paid apps at launch seriously limits the TouchPad’s appeal,” wrote reviewer Jenneth Orantia. One good aspect of the tablet was its unique webOS software — but it didn’t appear to be enough to make it a serious iPad competitor.

“To paraphrase Robert Arryn in Game of Thrones, we want to see the webOS fly (in a good way), but the TouchPad in its current incarnation doesn’t seem like the right vehicle to do it,” Orantia wrote. “As clever as webOS is, it’s let down by the TouchPad’s poorly performing hardware and a lacklustre apps ecosystem.”

Personally, I believe this is a bit of a knee-jerk reaction from HP or Harvey Norman (whoever is behind having the devices pulled off shelves). The TouchPads are still perfectly capable devices that function well for all the basic uses that most people would want them for — web browsing, emailing, social networking, looking at photos and so on. And what, precisely, is HP going to do with all of the excess inventory now that the line is end of life? Destroy it? Put it in storage for posterity?

A far better idea, in my opinion, would be to try and recoup some of the costs by continuing to sell the TouchPad through Harvey Norman at a steep discount — say 40 percent. This would undercut everything else on the market and allow HP to get rid of its excess stock honestly, pulling in some money while cutting its losses.

Image credits: HP


  1. See the fuss over the discounted HP Microserver for an example of how a deep price cut can turn a failed product into a “cult” hit.

  2. Seems like a whole new level of product failure where a major retailer would rather pull stock of shelves than face a perceived potential consumer backlash.

    Even if the device itself is weak and ongoing support has been nixed I think a second price cut would still have been a better option for all involved than pulling the thing altogether.

    • The hilarious thing is … there are still a bunch of other tablets on shelves which I consider inferior to the TouchPad — half of the Android manufacturers, for example.

  3. i believe best buy in the US has done the same thing.
    pulled the product from their shelves and sent a request to HP to “come get your shit from our warehouse”.

    i may have paraphrased that last bit.

  4. I’m tempted to buy one in case a third party ports Android to it.. no doubt it will see a bit of attention from the developer community if it gets liquidated cheaply.

  5. So forgetting this ridiculous move from Harvey Norman for a moment, what the hell are HP going to do with WebOS now? I guess it really is destined for a life on printers! What a waste of billions of dollars and a really good OS. It’s not like HP couldn’t have produced something a lot more amazing than the TouchPad had they really put money and manpower into it. Having said that I guess one of their biggest problems was drawing developers to the platform. Why would you write apps for a limited audience on the TouchPad when you can reach millions on Android or iOS instead?

    In the end, apart from some bizarre ads starring Russell Brand, there was nothing that really differentiated the TouchPad from all the other tablets out there. It really needed to be able to make coffee and walk your dog to have a chance to be no. 2 to the iPad (which was their serious sales goal!)

    • According to HP, they are still going to actively develop webOS, but on a purely software/services side, which is imho the best approach

      webOS is still the best designed OS for tablets (barring the issue of not enough applications), its just that hardware was complete crap

  6. After all the fuss & ado over HP’s tablet using HP’s proprietary version of WebOS (it was supposed to be an open-source product) it isn’t good enough. Well, sucked in HP…

  7. HP told Harvey Norman they wouldn’t provide any support or updates for the Touchpad, so of course HN will pull it. Is it a kneejerk reaction to pull a product if a customer can’t get any warranty support on it?

  8. I for one would love to get one locally for $99. I’m was about to buy from online from Best Buy but think i might hold off to see what pans out over here..

  9. So I noticed today that Harvey Norman have “40% off all HP laptops and desktops” and “all stock must go”….. Is this in any way related – like have HN decided to drop HP altogether ?

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