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Apple's bizarre slice of marketing

HEWLETT Packard is to relaunch its TouchPad, after disastrous initial sales.

A mere 12,000 were sold in the first month of European release, a figure which fell even further in the following weeks.

After seven weeks, it was announced that the TouchPad, intended to rival Apple's iPad, would be discontinued.

But when retailers were told they could sell the remaining tablets at a quarter of the original price -- ¤69, instead of the iPad price-matching ¤277 and ¤347 -- the TouchPad's fortunes began to magically turn around. The sum was not enough to cover manufacturing costs, but was sufficient to prompt a buying bonanza. Cut-price TouchPads flew off the shelves, with lengthy queues forming outside stockists and websites experiencing frenzied demand.

So Hewlett Packard yesterday announced that after being "pleasantly surprised" by sales of the cut-price tablet, it would be returning the TouchPad to the market on a temporary basis.

There is, however, one fatal flaw. Given the high cost of production, Hewlett Packard is thought to be losing some ¤140 on every device sold.