National retailer, Harvey Norman, has shafted the HP TouchPad off its product line in the wake of HP’s decision to discontinue investment on WebOS devices.
In a shock announcement overnight, HP has decided to dump its WebOS operating system smartphone and tablet devices. This was a particularly surprising considering the HP TouchPad was launched in North America last month and was only made available in Australian on Monday.
Harvey Norman was the exclusive retailer for the tablet.
The retailer is extremely disappointed with HP’s move but was adamant it will have zero impact on its business.
“The tablet category is growing rapidly and we’re up there with everybody else so our share in that space is extremely healthy,” Harvey Norman general manager for computers and communications, Ben McIntosh, told ARN. “We’ve got a very good range of tablets so losing one particularly brand won’t impact our business and we’re not worried whatsoever.”
But this has not stopped the retailer from taking pre-cautionary measures. It has instructed franchisees to take the HP TouchPad off the shelf and will be offering full refunds to customers that have already purchased the tablet.
So far, around 1000 TouchPads have been sold which, according to Harvey Norman, was a good number considering it was launched just five days ago.
“HP hasn’t confirmed whether it will support WebOS in the near future and I’m not going to sell the tablet to customers unless I’m absolutely, categorically sure the vendor will be there to support the platform in the future,” McIntosh said.
TouchPad Customers will be contacted by Harvey Norman franchisees in relation to the refund offer. They can also decide to swap the TouchPad for another brand or wait until HP makes a definitive decision on WebOS support.
“We’ll offer customers a full refund virtually with no questions asked in regards to lost packaging and so on,” McIntosh said. “Either that or we’ll swap it or whatever they want to do to remain happy.
“No customer of Harvey Norman will be disadvantaged.”
HP was also re-evaluating its PC business which could potentially see that division sold off to another company.
McIntosh was unperturbed by this prospect and expect no change to its HP PC business in the near future.
“It may take 12 months for the review process and the vendor doesn’t have a firm position yet,” he said. “HP might even decide to keep the business the way it is.
Harvey Norman has learnt a lot since IBM sold its personal computing business to Lenovo in 2009.
“IBM was a big part of our business then and we just made adjustments when it happened,” McIntosh said. “The good thing about technology is there are a lot of companies selling good quality and well priced products so we’re not concerned.”
More to follow.