HP making more TouchPads to meet demand

HP has announced a surprise for those who assumed the TouchPad was dead and gone: after the explosion in demand that came when it slashed the price, it's decided to make more of them.

When HP declared its webOS hardware division dead, it dropped the price of the TouchPad tablet to a bargain-basement £89 in the UK and triggered a surge of demand we haven't seen since the last time we inadvisedly got caught near an Apple Store during the launch of the iPad 2.

That demand - caused largely by the fact that the tablet, for all it was a dead product, works amazingly well as a device for browsing the web - caught retailers and HP alike by surprise. So much so, in fact, that HP has decided to give those who missed out on the bargain of the year a second bite at the apple.

Thanking customers for their 'enthusiasm' regarding the TouchPad, HP's Mark Budgell made the announcement of a final production run late yesterday. "Despite announcing an end to manufacturing webOS hardware," Budgell declared, "we have decided to produce one last run of TouchPads to meet unfulfilled demand.

"We don’t know exactly when these units will be available or how many we’ll get," he admitted, "and we can’t promise we’ll have enough for everyone. We do know that it will be at least a few weeks before you can purchase."

The bulk of the newly-manufactured devices appears, from Budgell's comments, to be earmarked for release in the US, with a smaller percentage coming over to the European markets. Described as 'a limited supply,' it's not known precisely how many the company is planning to produce - but it's clear about the fact that once these are gone, that's it.

"HP is discontinuing the development of webOS devices," Budgell clarified, "and is winding down device operations within our fourth fiscal quarter 2011."

Budgell has also promised that there will be a one-tablet-per-person rule, after many retailers received orders for dozens of tablets which then found their way onto electronic tat market eBay at massively elevated prices.

With demand for the tablet continuing - despite grumblings from many customers about the poor showing from UK retailers whose systems struggled to cope with the massive demand generated by the discount - it looks like the TouchPad isn't quite done yet.