Shock and Bewilderment swept the industry as well as the tech journalism and blogger community yesterday. HP announced that they are not just looking to spin off their PC business but that they are also discontinuing all webOS hardware which included the HP TouchPad.
It was fascinating to watch the twitter stream of people commenting when the news hit about the HP spinnoff. Shortly after the initial shock of the news the big question got raised: What does this mean for webOS?
During the aftenoon we came to find out that although HP is discontinuing all webOS hardware operations, they are still commited to the software. If this is true, then I contend that they should give away all the TouchPads left at retail for free. They should at least HEAVILY discount them. Maybe let Best Buy do a special promotion where if you spend more than $200 dollars you get a TouchPad for free. Perhaps run a promo where if you buy HP products like specific printers, notebooks or desktop you get a TouchPad for free.
The reason is because if HP is commited to still supporting webOS it will only live on now by way of license. However no one will want to license it if there is no software ecosystem or apps surrounding webOS. There will be no software ecosystem or apps developed if there are no devices on the market for developers to write apps for.
This is why HP should just give them all away – all 400,000 sitting in a store house. They are already writing off this hardware so why not get it into the market any way possible.
Consumers are simply not going to buy them now because with this news will also come a lack of consumer trust in HP and the TouchPad. However people will accept one that is free just to try it and if they don’t like it they can give it to a friend or loved one. This move would also create a positive image for HP in light of the hit they are most likely taking.
The bottom line is doing this would create a market for webOS software developers to create apps for. My sense tells me consumers would actually be quite impressed with the TouchPad once they got it in their home and maybe would even spread the word about how great webOS is to their friends.
The bottom line is HP needs to move that hardware. Consumers won’t buy them or invest in webOS because it is risky and unknown. Give them all away. There is no downside to the consumer and I would argue only upside for all parties involved.
So to HP’s management-Give them away and make it easier for whoever buys it or licneses it to have a built in installed base of users to build on. I know this sounds bold and risky but that is exactly what you need right now.