the price is too damn high!


With apologies to Jimmy McMillan, maybe the price is too damn high!

I spent some of this weekend trying to track down a blowout hp TouchPad without any luck. What one month ago was a $500 product and two months ago wasn’t even on the market was nowhere to be found at a discounted $100. Why would anyone want a TouchPad, a now-discontinued product made by a company that doesn’t seem to want to sell anything considered as personal technology to anyone?

Maybe it’s because the TouchPad wasn’t half bad. I got a chance to play with a demo model yesterday, and it was pretty solid. It felt about as good in the hand as my iPad does, though a little bigger. The webOS software was always well-received, if a little rushed. But at $99, these things flew off the shelves yesterdy and quickly became the #1 selling product in’s Computer Tablet category. Forget the fact that the product has no future, this was a sign that people will buy a LOT of something that is a decent product at a good price.

I love the iPhone, iPad, and iOS in general. But I think it’s hysterical that the pricing on these products is so consistent — iPhones at $199 and $299, and iPads at $499, $599, and $699 every year, with every new release — without any regard for economic slowdown or component pricing. The prices are what they are, and now that more and more vendors feel like they can take on the market leader, they’re pricing their tablets similarly. But nothing is selling as well as the iPad is. Some even question whether there is even a tablet market aside from iPad.

hp is eating a lot of money to sell of the remaining stock at $99/$149 — a list of component pricing weighs in at $318. But they’re not paying that much per device. If they kept the product on the market at a more reasonable price — say $199 (and $249 for the upgraded model) — I bet they’d sell a boatload, and continue to sell boatloads if they decided to resurrect the product.

With all the talk about ubiquitous computing and a device for every student, I’m surprised that there isn’t more of a push for more affordable alternatives. We need cheaper technology, and companies to push Apple to either deliver more or charge less — charge me $500, but where’s my higher resolution display, some sort of mass deployment tool that’s easy to use, or better cameras; or charge me less for a product that, right now, has artificially high prices. (iSuppli’s iPad teardown shows the bill of materials at about $325, but again, that’s not a price that Apple’s paying per device.) They’ll never drop the price because folks are buying iPads faster than they can stay on shelves half a year after their debut.

The price is too damn high, and I’d love for webOS or Android to have compelling hardware to actually make the tablet decision a tough one because it’s just not right now. Until then, I’ll use my iPad but hope for a different playing field to come soon.