Speculation: A Lawsuit Avoided by HP?

This evening, my stepson and I went shopping for a case for the TouchPad tablets I purchased this morning. Although the TouchPad was selling for $99 and $149, the HP cases were still $49 each. It didn’t make much sense to buy a case for half the value of the device.

We managed to find one case for an iPad 1 for sale at a Target–most of the iPad 1 cases are long gone from retail stores (Amazon and eBay are another matter altogether). I thought the TouchPad’s dimensions were similar to the iPad 1, but was shocked to see that the TouchPad fit EXACTLY into the iPad’s case (This case did not block the camera on the TouchPad, either–a feature the iPad 1 did not have).

Apple is in the news as it sues Android tablet manufacturers for patent infringements. All the Android tablets I’ve seen have been 16:9 widescreen models, and it has been reported in blogs that Apple’s legal actions have included “warping” pictures to show Android tablets in the iPad perspective–apparently this caused an injunction to be thrown out in Germany.

Now, take the TouchPad. Other than a plastic back and a camera, it seems to be the EXACT size as the iPad 1. It functions largely like an iPad 1. Most people that see it will automatically assume it is an iPad. I think I even heard that the display and glass are exact products as used with the iPad 1 (Don’t quote me on that).

What’s the chance, that combined with poor (non $99) sales, Apple had HP in a corner, legally? What’s the chance that by ending the TouchPad product line, and taking a tremendous loss (let’s say 500,000 units at $300 each, $150 million or even a million units at $300 each, $300 million) they’ve actually avoided a lawsuit that could have cost them much more? And perhaps even closing the WebOS product line is STILL more affordable than a legal judgement against them?

This is all speculation on my part, but wouldn’t the $99 fire sale and abandonment of an entire product line be a spectacular way to avoid the scrutiny and cost (not to mention impact on stock value) of legal proceedings? It probably isn’t the case, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it was true.


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