HP’s Reputation Takes a Hit after webOS Debacle

by Matt Klassen on August 23, 2011

While many may look to the way HP bungled the application of the once highly touted webOS as an indication of the company’s ineptitude in the mobile market, for many its how the company has handled the entire process that has them asking questions about HP’s overall management team, its ability to plan, and its ability to support potential SMB customers.

You see, following the announcement late last week that HP would be scuttling its webOS operating system and discontinuing its newly released TouchPad, the company threw a fire sale this past weekend, selling the remaining tablet inventory for an incredibly low $99.

It was amazing to see the demand, as customers flocked to HP’s website—despite the fact that the TouchPad is really now just an expensive paper weight—demand that sent HP’s customer service team reeling, grinding the company’s website to a halt and exposing crippling flaws in HP’s infrastructure. If HP wasn’t able to manage its own server traffic, how can it be trusted to handle your company’s traffic?

As a company that sells adaptive communications infrastructure to SMB clients designed to respond and resolve exactly these sorts of high traffic problems, seeing HP fail so miserably is bound to have many current and potential clients asking serious questions about the company’s overall organization, competence, and management.

To the point, imagine what could have happened had HP dedicated some serious attention to the sell-off of its TouchPad inventory. As CNET’s Larry Dignan writes, “HP could have turned this TouchPad liquidation lemon into lemonade” potentially using its internal cloud to help manage server traffic spikes. Had it done so, the webOS debacle could have been spun as a success for HP, showing how the company’s data centres were able to handle the traffic without incident and marketing the company as a problem solving server specialist.

Of course, what we got instead was a weekend selloff marred by shopping cart glitches, web site failures, and rumours that HP’s management team was so unprepared that the decision to scuttle the webOS was only announced to Todd Bradley, the head of HP’s PC division—on Wednesday, perhaps explaining why the whole weekend sell-off looked rushed, disorganized, and half-cocked.

Truly, if I were a SMB client looking for a company to handle my business communications infrastructure, HP would now be the last company I would consider. If the company makes such snap decisions about its own business, without giving the issues the required thought and planning, how can they be trusted with my own business concerns?

In the end, aside from the hit in the pocket book that HP is taking due the failure of webOS and its TouchPad tablet, even beyond the hit to its reputation among the SMB market that will surely follow, it looks like the TouchPad sell-off may have hurt the entire market, with analysts predicting that this $99 fire sale will ruin competitive tablet pricing, thus making it that much more difficult to market a competitive and profitable iPad competitor.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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