The great HP TouchPad Android mystery

HP’s flubbed TouchPad tablet is back in the news again, and like pretty much all the other major TouchPad stories, this one has HP running in circles.

It’s been reported in numerous publications that some of the latest Touchpad shipments had a rather curious “defect” about them. They were running the wrong software.

Android 2.2, to be exact, instead of webOS. While there had been speculation that the Touchpad may integrate with Android in some way, certainly nothing was ever made official.

And it looks like the powers that be at HP are just as shocked as we are.

HP director Phil Robb has released a statement saying, “As for the Touchpad units that have been allegedly purchased with a version of Android on them, we have begun an internal investigation on this within HP. We have confirmed that HP never authorized the distribution of any version of Android on the HP Touchpad. In addition, from a review of our manufacturing process, we believe that all Touchpad units have been shipped out of manufacturing with the webOS operating system only, and that no Touchpad units were shipped with Android, even by mistake. Hence, we presently believe that some person or persons unknown may have facilitated the delivery of these Android-based units strictly against the policy and authorization of HP.”

The Touchpad was a flagship product for HP as it was the company’s first device to be powered by webOS, the mobile operating system that came as part of the Palm buyout.

But sales were so abysmal that HP ended up quickly slashing the price to just $99 – not as a means of getting a bigger user base so it could continue support for the device, but as a last-ditch effort to clear out incredible amounts of retail inventory that would have seemingly never made it off the shelves otherwise.

So this would be a much bigger situation if the Touchpad were actually a highly supported item. Nevertheless, it’s very odd and definitely speaks to a level of disorganization at HP that has been hampering the company for years.