Posts Tagged ‘Touchpad

The ethics guide for HP uses the headline test to determine if a business decision is ethical:

The Headline Test is a simple but powerful tool designed to make sure we appropriately consider the soundness and impact of our business decisions. It is named after one of the tools most commonly used by executives: “Before I make a decision, I consider how it would look in a news story.” (Source: SBC, page 8 )

According to the headline of this blog post, HP’s decision to mislead customers for months about the availability of Touchpads at firestorm prices is unethical.
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Today HP announced that they would make one more batch of Touchpads:

We have decided to produce one last run of TouchPads to meet unfulfilled demand.

While my inner-optimist would like to believe that HP is making a few more Touchpads because they feel sorry for everyone who really wanted one and didn’t get one, I think it is more likely that HP had other reasons for making another batch of Touchpads:

  1. They have to make more in order to keep a backup supply to use for in-warranty replacements.  HP asserts that all Touchpads come with a 1 year warranty.
  2. By making a few more, they can continue to reap an increased level of press coverage.  HP has never seen so much press coverage until they announced the discontinuance of the Touchpad.
  3. They have contracts with customers, channels, and partners to provide a certain number of Touchpads, and they are making more to fulfill their legal requirements to those contracts.
  4. They fear a public relations backlash, possibly even legal consequences, if they don’t provide any more after using phrases like, “Coming Soon,” “Temporarily out of stock,” and “When it becomes available again.”
  5. In an effort to license or sell webOS to other device manufacturers, HP wanted a supply of Touchpads to provide to developers or engineers.

Perhaps the generalization of these speculations is this: The fire sale happened so quickly that HP ran flat out of inventory before they realized that they needed a few more.

HP is promising to sell more of their discontinued Touchpads at $100 and $150, depending on the model.  Since demand for these discounted devices is high, HP is likely to sell out no matter how many they make available.  So this is no longer about trying to make as much money as possible by selling as many devices as possible–it is now about generating a good relationship with their customers and potential customers.

There is one underlying principle which HP needs to remember: keep it fair.  To that end, here are four things HP can do to keep it fair:

  1. Limit the number of devices sold per customer.  Someone who just wanted one to use at home will feel cheated if someone else bought many just to sell on eBay for a profit.
  2. Explain the rules.  Let people know before hand what is going to happen.  If there is a limit per customer, say that before hand.  If you are going to wait until Touchpads are actually on sale again before sending out notification emails, say that before hand. If you aren’t going to allow coupons to be used, say that before hand.  If you expect your servers to get hammered to death such that only a few frequent refreshers will get through, say that before hand.
  3. Knowing something isn’t going to happen is almost as important as knowing something will happen.  Knowing that Touchpads aren’t going to be sold, or knowing that Touchpads aren’t going to be shipped to any stores is better information than nothing.
  4. Share information with everyone.  If you are shipping Touchpads to Best Buy, tell the whole world, so that more people than just the Best Buy employees will have a chance to get one.  If you know a general number of Touchpads that will be sold, post it on the main Touchpad FAQ, so that more people than just Twitter users get the full picture.  (Or at least tell everyone who to follow on Twitter).