HP’s cheaper TouchPad: a bold move or an admission of defeat?

Here's a question. When a firm cuts the price of a relatively new bit of kit, is it a bold bit of aggressive pricing or a sign that the device isn't selling very well? HP says it's the former: it's dramatically cut the price of its TouchPad tablet in the US. What started off as a limited-time offer has become permanent, and the TouchPad is now $100 cheaper than the iPad 2. US customers will pay $399 for the 16GB version or $499 for the 32GB.

The TouchPad isn't a bad tablet, but reviews have been mixed and it hasn't troubled the top of the tablet charts: Engadget said they'd like it a lot more if it cost $100 less, and now it seems HP has answered their call. The discount was initially offered for a single weekend, but we can only assume it was successful as HP has extended the discount indefinitely. It's possible that the price might go even lower as retailers offer their own discounts on the RRP.

Is HP just being generous? We doubt it. Where Apple rivals are lucky to sell 200,000 units per month, Apple's doing over two million iPads - causing some pundits to wonder whether we should just call the tablet market the iPad market. The TouchPad can't beat Apple on the size of its App Store or the range of available add-ons, so cutting the price makes sound business sense.

For now, the cut hasn't made its way across the Atlantic: if you want to buy a TouchPad in the UK, expect to pay £399 for a 16GB model or £479 for the 32GB model. Given the US price drop, though, we think it would be a very bad idea to buy a TouchPad at those prices: it's not a case of if the UK price is going to drop, but when.

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