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Harvey Norman drops HP’s TouchPad

Update: $AU99 and fondlelsabs sell out in minutes

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HP’s TouchPad tablet has been erased from the Australian market following the decision by retailer Harvey Norman, the exclusive local distributor of the device, to pull it from shelves.

The move follows HP’s unexpected decision on Thursday (US time) to withdraw all investment in WebOS devices.

Globally, HP said it was exploring strategic alternatives for the webOS software (including, we guess, abandoning it by the side of a country road) and flagged that contemplating the spin off of its PC business into a separate company. HP will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and WebOS phones, based on the software it acquired with Palm.

The decision was so abrupt that on Thursday, HP’s Australian PR agency Edelman was still organizing review devices to be sent to technology journalists. The HP TouchPad had barely touched the shelves in Australia, having only been launched four days before the announcement to withdraw WebOS support.

It is understood around 1000 tablets had been sold and the franchisees of retailer Harvey Norman spent the weekend contacting the purchasers to offer a full refund or credit.

Customers wanting to keep their TouchPad could do so, but have been warmed that there may not be provision for ongoing support. The product no longer appears on the Harvey Norman website. ®

Update: Harvey Norman managed what HP couldn't manage yesterday: its decision to dump all remaining stock for $AU99 attracted out-the-door queues. Whether the buyers are lemmings or Android experts remains to be seen, but any store that had the HP fondleslab is probably sold out by now. Today, the mania has spread to New Zealand. ®

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