Ode to Another Failed iPad Killer

The deal of the day from Amazon.com (NAS: AMZN) property Woot looks mighty familiar -- yep, that's the recently launched Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) TouchPad tablet!

The 10-inch tablet that runs webOS software from that old Palm acquisition can now be yours for $385, shipping included. New, not refurbished. Even if we're talking about the cheapest version in the TouchPad lineup with just 16GB of storage, that's a pretty sweet deal. Buying the same thing from RadioShack (NYS: RSH) right now will cost you $499.

The fact that the TouchPad is showing up in clearance-sale service Woot now, just a month after the official launch, tells us volumes about how it's selling. Or, you know, not selling.

In fact, Woot is not the only place where you can find discount-priced TouchPads today. The larger Amazon site offers an instant $100 discount, as do Best Buy (NYS: BBY) and HP's own online store. I guess RadioShack just didn't read that TPS report yet. (But Woot is still $15 cheaper than any of the above options.)

So the HP brand name didn't sell TouchPads, and neither did a marketing push with B-list celebrities like Russell Brand. The much-touted user friendliness of webOS didn't help. Having top-notch hardware, including a LED-lit screen and a high-speed Qualcomm (NAS: QCOM) dual-core processor, also did nothing. And now HP is basically giving up on it.

This thing may beat the pants off the Apple (NAS: AAPL) iPad on paper -- but guess which one shifted more than 9 million units last quarter and which one was relegated to the discount bin in less than a month? Yeah, you got it. And the story is pretty much the same for the Research In Motion (NAS: RIMM) PlayBook and Motorola Mobility Xoom: high hopes and great specs but disappointing sales.

Don't expect the supposed iPad killers to stop coming. Also, don't expect them to actually kill anything, short of a massive shift in marketing strategy. Apple knows what people want and work hard to deliver exactly that, including a feel-good message about the magic an iPad brings into your life.

The best device doesn't always win. The best marketing does. Read more about marketing folly and fortunes:

At the time this article was published Fool contributorAnders Bylundholds no position in any of the companies discussed here. The Motley Fool owns shares of Qualcomm, Apple, RadioShack, Research In Motion, and Best Buy.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Apple, Best Buy, and Amazon.com, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. You can check outAnders' holdings and a concise bio, follow him onTwitterorGoogle+, or peruseour Foolish disclosure policy.

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