HP TouchPad: A Marketing Failure

Many factors should be taken into account when launching a new product. Generally speaking, customer-oriented development and credibility where a company should recognise the value of customer feedback is essential. In addition to that, it is important that a company allocates adequate resources for effective program execution. The company has to ask several questions: Does it target customers in different environments? Do I know what my target customers really think about my product? Is my product designed to fit my customer’s satisfaction and needs?

Founded in 1935, the American multinational information technology corporation, Hewlett-Packard proved to be the first in line to provide products, technologies, software, solutions and services. The company had net revenues of $126 billion in 2010. Mostly known as a personal computing manufacturer and service deliverer, the company had to shift their market focus in 2009. Mobile devices are rapidly overtaking PCs as the center of people’s everyday computing lives. PC sales were slowing and the mobility segment was gaining users and unit sales at an impressive rate. Thus, HP needed to initiate into mobile industry (including Tablets and Smartphones) in order for it to maintain its high sales revenues.

On July 1st, 2011, Hewlett-Packard launched the HP Touchpad, a multi-touch capacitive touchscreen tablet that runs under a solid hardware paired with the webOS operating system inherited from the Palm acquisition in 2010. The tablet, which was supposed to be a hit product due to the technology it provided, also offered several notable features sharing the same card multitasking. Researchers proved that the touchpad can perform significantly better than the iPad2 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab, respectively; the main competitors in the touchscreen market. More than 20 online videos and 20 articles show the advantages HP had over the others. Being operated by webOS, the tablet proved to have the best user interface, one of the most important features for an operating system. According to Galen Gruman, executive editor of InfoWorld for Features, who showed using personal accounts of IMAP, POP, and Gmail along with a work account of Exchange 2007 that the HP email system, is more organised and efficient than the competitors’. Other than that, the first to come with a wireless charger was the HP touchpad which was considered to be of significant importance for the company due to the technological advantage. Many other advantages could be shown, but the point is just to name a few to prove that HP had superior technology and a competitive advantage. Many other technical people tested different devices and the answer was clear: “WebOS is great and it outweighs all other devices when you want to truly get real work done”. Other reviews also show that many users get nearly twice the work done on the HP touchpad than what they did with their iPad2.

Unfortunately, the product lasted only 7 weeks in the market when Hewlett-Packard had a huge price slash and after a while announced the discontinuation of all current hardware devices running webOS due to tremendous sales setback. It might be surprising for many of you by seeing the HP TouchPad fail considering all these advantages over other tablets, but this is the reality. How did HP fail so badly with webOS hardware? Well, the key answer is marketing!

It is true that all things looked positive for the product to be launched, but in many cases very good products die for foolish reasons such as ignorance and denial. Starting off, HP should have published the online videos that show the advantages of HP over others to a wider audience. Days when companies had to pay millions for a marketing campaign are gone. Now it’s all about social networking such as Facebook and Twitter, not to forget a couple of blogs covering your stories. Post an announcement on your Facebook page and let people do their marketing job. Another big problem with marketing and advertisement was the conflict between HP and Best Buy (main electronics dealer in the United States). Both parties were fighting about the Touchpad’s inventory because of very low sales rate. Well, it is not surprising why sales were almost nil. It is true that the TouchPad was not a hit with consumers, but Best Buy didn’t give the tablet much support either; the TouchPad is often hidden in a corner in the store. Perhaps Best Buy didn’t care about the product sales. If this is not the case, than HP probably didn’t provide enough incentives to Best Buy. Ultimately, HP’s advertising definitely did not work.

To go through all the reasons why HP’s product failed would take ages. Because of that, I will list a couple of them without going into details: HP has failed to acquire real carrier support for its offerings. The company was unsuccessful by constructing an understandable development plan to its dedicated developers. HP was rushing with their product launch and getting the TouchPad out into the marketplace before the Android dynamic.

As a result, the company released the TouchPad early without testing it well, leading to widespread poor reviews and bad feedbacks from customers.

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