There's more than a whiff of desperation to HP's decision to make permanent what had been a short-term promotional $100 discount on its new TouchPad tablet.
But that doesn't mean it wasn't a good move. Given the average tablet buyer's inclination toward the iPad, not to mention the negative reviews upon its debut in June, the only way the TouchPad can gain any market share is to price itself below Apple's superior tablet.
How could HP ever have expected the "chunky, overweight" TouchPad, with its meager selection of apps, to compete at the same price point as the iPad, which has 74% market share and is beloved the world over? The TouchPad was being set up to fail from its July 1 debut.
Which HP quickly discovered, offering a $50 instant rebate in late July, a sign that sales were slow.
Then the company offered a $100 discount on TouchPads over the past weekend. It seemed like an odd decision. A sales offer extending over just a handful of days isn't going shake up the tablet market.
Apparently someone at HP finally came to the same conclusion. So now the 16GB TouchPad model goes for $399.99 and the 32GB version runs for $499.99. (By the way, PC World's Jared Newman predicted the permanent price cut last Friday, after HP announced its weekend sale.)
Of course, it's not like the TouchPad will have the lower-end tablet market to itself. IDC predicts a number of Android-powered tablet computers could fall below $300 before the holiday shopping season.
Still, now at least the TouchPad is closer to its proper weight class. Against the iPad, it was outgunned at every turn.