NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Apparently all a company needs to do to get a new tablet to catch on with consumers is stop producing it and slash the price by 75%.
HP (Stock Quote: HPQ) announced Thursday that it would discontinue the HP TouchPad (along with the pre3 smartphone) due to lackluster sales and proceeded to drop the price on the cheapest version of the tablet by $400 to just $99. Sure enough, the TouchPad rocketed to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list for computers and accessories as the price tag proved too good for consumers to resist.
But there are drawbacks to purchasing a discontinued product, particularly a tech product.
“Today’s consumers (rightfully) have come to expect that when they buy a device, they've bought at least one update to the device's operating system,” said Adam Pash, editor-in-chief of consumer tech site Lifehacker. “When a product is discontinued, that goes out the window. The device you have now is the best it'll get—at least in terms of what the manufacturer is going to provide you with.”
For a product like the TouchPad, that might mean no major software updates to enhance the way the tablet functions, few if any new apps to enjoy on the device and presumably fewer accessories as HP focuses its resources on other product areas.
Even so, purchasing a TouchPad now isn’t quite as risky as purchasing other discontinued products in part because of the low cost and the fact that consumers are likely to replace tablets relatively quickly anyway.
“Tablets are essentially a two-year product and will certainly change a lot in the next 24 months,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst for tech consulting firm Enderle Group. So the fact that the discontinued TouchPad might be out of date in a year’s time may not seem like a large value loss, especially given the major price reduction. “If it were something like an automobile that requires a lot of service and you plan to keep it for a long time, then the risk is pretty high.”