Barnes & Noble caught in Touchpad crossfire

Posted by Mark Raby

An unlikely company is catching a lot of backlash as a result of the massive fire sale of HP's flagship Touchpad tablet.

The blogosphere lit up yesterday over news of the device's massive $99 price drop, which was deemed as more of an effort to just clear out massive amounts of inventory rather than pump new interest in the Touchpad.

Today, though, some of the focus is shifting to one of the companies that offered the $99 deal - Barnes & Noble.

Specifically, the book retailer's website had listed the device with the special price, but after customers hurried to grab one, they found themselves with nothing but a cancellation e-mail.

Twitter messages show several people upset that B&N put a pending charge on their credit or debit cards, only to realize after the fact that it didn't have enough inventory to fulfill orders.

"Freaking barnes and noble did a money grab and canceled my touchpad order," wrote one consumer. "Eat it, you book peddling nerds," wrote another.

In its e-mail to affected customers, the store wrote, "We sincerely regret any inconvenience this may have caused."

B&N is a massive retailer and should be able to have a better automated inventory tracking system, to avoid problems like this. The fact that so many orders were able to go through before the Touchpad was taken off the site is a big problem.

Despite a highly aggressive advertising campaign and recent price cuts, HP was unable to generate interest for the Touchpad. Consumers who were already confused enough with the choice between Android and iPad just didn't understand the point of webOS.

It looks like the company will now abandon the nascent operating system in new tablet and smartphone devices.