HP TouchPad Might Not Be Dead After All

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HP’s TouchPad tablets might not be gone for good, even after the fire sale ends. A company executive believes that the doomed tablet, which was more popular in death than in life, could make a comeback if HP spins off its personal computer business.

The TouchPad was on the market for about six weeks before HP announced that it would stop building WebOS phones and printers, and would look to sell or spin off its PC business in order to focus on enterprise software. To liquidate its remaining TouchPad stock, HP slashed the price to $99, at which point the tablets became a huge hit.

(MORE: Google, Motorola and HP: How the Tech Industry Is Changing)

Meanwhile, HP has insisted that it’s committed to WebOS, with This Is My Next reporting that HP could license the software to other phone and tablet makers. But in a new interview with Reuters, HP’s Personal Systems Group head Todd Bradley said a spun-off HP hardware company might want to take another crack at the TouchPad itself.

“Tablet computing is a segment of the market that’s relevant, absolutely,” Bradley said.

The problem, as I’ve said before, is that it’s hard to be like Apple—that is, to control the hardware, the software and the services. HP tried, but failed to create innovative hardware, launched buggy software and couldn’t inspire developers to create lots of cool WebOS apps. If a spun-off HP computer business wants to sell WebOS tablets for more than $99 a pop, it’ll have to fix those problems, which will take a long time and require lots of money. Essentially, it’d be a huge gamble.

So I won’t be totally surprised if Bradley’s dream of resurrecting the TouchPad doesn’t pan out, and that WebOS gets licensed or sold. If Bradley’s goal is simply to get a piece of the tablet market, Android or the upcoming Windows 8 provide simpler, easier, less risky options.

MORE: Tablets: ‘Why Should Somebody Buy This Instead of an iPad?’

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