Why buying a HP TouchPad in the ‘firesale’ just plain stupid – consumerism at it’s best

Consumerism at it's best: Buyers now rushing to buy a defunct, useless and substandard device, which had a bad reception all round. Is it just play stupid to buy one?

The HP TouchPad firesale goes on; after just 48 days on sale HP last Friday announced that it was discontinuing it’s tablet PC, sparking firesales amongst many retailers in the UK and internationally with some dropping the price by as much as 75%. The 16GB version which normally retails at £350 has dropped to £89, while the £450 32GB model is down to £115. Retailers such as Play.com, Argos, Tesco, Amazon, and Dabs.com are reported to still have stock, and Carphone Warehouse whilst they are now out of stock after selling the the 16GB model at £89, and the 32GB model at £115 are fulfilling all orders received to date. DSG Group says it will have a limited supply of TouchPads on sale at some Currys and PC World stores today. Other online retailers are also reported to have stock, many of which are listed on gadget sites such as PCWorld.com.

HP TouchPad Firesale

But since the HP TouchPad is discontinued, as part of HP CEO Leo Apotheker’s long-term plan to get out of the PC business this will mean the technology is essentially defunct, and whilst the company has pledged to continue providing support for the device, it is unlikely to see development at the same pace as competing Tablets. Some have justified buying the tablet as they have previously been unable to justify buying a tablet at such high prices, (which is fair enough - despite the technology now being defunct), others are hoping to see Android ported to the device, though the developers behind such a project have “…advised prospective purchasers not to get too hopeful of a quick result”.

It does seem though, as many openly admit, that the only reason people are rushing to buy this device is “…the allure of an ultra-cheap TouchPad” – essentially buying something just because it’s reduced in price. People are buying this device in the knowledge that it’s also a substandard of technology in itself. Washington Post journalist Chris Zeigler is quoted as saying “… I used a TouchPad and I didn’t really like it — I found it fat, slow, and buggy, even with the webOS 3.0.2 update applied. And besides, I already own an iPad 2… yet, for some inexplicable reason, I can confidently say without hesitation that I’d buy the $99.99 TouchPad all over again if given the opportunity. But why?”. He also polled his Twitter followers, with which many responded with “… I am planning on keeping it with the hopes that there is more in store for the tablet (either way at $99, who cares)” or words to the same effect. Some on Twitter have even said (ridiculously) that they plan on selling the tablet on at a higher price.

So it’s clear most people don’t really know why they’re buying it, could this be a case of compulsive hoarding with buyers putting it in a glass case next to their Apple Newton?  At a time when consumerism is being blamed for the London riots, surely buyers should be more aware? Much has been written (Buyology by Martin Lindstrom, and Why People Buy Things They Don’t Need: Understanding and Predicting Consumer Behavior) on why people buy things in a sale, which they don’t need – and consumers claim to be more aware and media literate than ever, so why are so many rushing in a frenzy to buy this essentially useless product.

Did you go out and buy a HP TouchPad, and if so why? What are your opinions on those who rush to buy a product the manufacturer has explicitly and openly discontinued?  Are people just buying this because a price drop of 75% is too hard to resist – evidently the same traits demonstrated by those who act in a vulture like way during the sales of companies in administration like Woolworths, Borders and Habitat. All in all, the fact a company can openly bin a product, and have people still rush out to buy it just because they cut the price to something frankly still rather expensive is consumerism, and capitalism at it’s best – it seems a huge proportion of ‘consumers’ are still well and truly under the thumb multinational corporations like HP. What do you think?