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HP to bring back TouchPad for last production run

Following a buying spree of $99 TouchPads, Hewlett-Packard plans to resurrect the WebOS-based tablet for a final production run.

Hewlett-Packard will bring back the TouchPad for one last production run in the wake of the explosion of consumer interest in the platform.

On August 19, HP slashed the price of the 16GB TouchPad to $100, setting off a buying frenzy online and at electronics stores such as Best Buy. HP's action came after announcing the shuttering of its WebOS device business. The TouchPad uses the WebOS operating system.

In a post on a company Web page, HP said a limited supply of TouchPads will arrive in the coming weeks.


"A limited supply are coming, and it will be a few weeks before they are available. As we know more about how, when, and where TouchPads will be available, we will communicate that here and through e-mail to those who requested notification," said Mark Budgell, public relations manager at HP.

"HP will be manufacturing a limited quantity of TouchPads with WebOS during our fourth fiscal quarter 2011, which ends October 31," he said.

The surge in demand for the TouchPad--reminiscent of what Apple has seen for its iPad--has caught HP off guard, forcing the company into a reactive mode, said Bob O'Donnell, an analyst at IDC. "It's all been reaction," he said.

There is also method in the madness. "They want to maintain some value in the WebOS so if they actually sell it they can squeeze as much value out of it as possible," he said.

But the company will not continue to make more TouchPads following this production run to meet demand. "HP is discontinuing the development of WebOS devices and is winding down device operations within our fourth fiscal quarter 2011," HP's Budgell wrote.

Regarding price, Budgell said "some retailers won't price-match or drop their price to $99. Each retailer will manage their own policy and process regarding pricing and price matching. Please contact the local retailer of your choice to see what their current position is."

HP itself, however, will continue to offer the TouchPad on its retail Web site for $99 and $150, for the 16GB and 32GB versions, respectively, an HP representative told CNET today.

In related news, HP told CNET on Monday that it will deliver an update to boost the TouchPad's functionality. "We expect that HP TouchPad owners can look forward to an over-the-air update that will enhance the platform, and add functionality and a growing applications catalog," an HP representative told CNET in response to an e-mail query.

HP continues to offer free apps for the tablet.