After HP announced it would discontinue production of its TouchPad tablet last week, it looked like early HP tablet adopters spent $500 on a dud. If you’re an enterprising software hacker, however, there could be an opportunity to make your money back — and then some.
A hardware-modification web site is offering a $1,500 cash bounty for the first person to successfully port a full version of the Android operating system over to HP’s TouchPad.
Hacknmod.com offers a tiered bounty system for would-be TouchPad hackers: Just getting Android to run on the TouchPad without taking full advantage of the tablet’s hardware will win you a cool $450. But the more you’re able to integrate the system software into the device, the more cash you’ll earn. Get the Wi-Fi, multitouch capability, audio and camera up and running, and you’ll add another $1,050 to the pot.
While the bounty is characteristic of the Android-modding crowd which basically wants to slap Android onto anything with a circuit board and touch screen, it’s also an admirable effort to breathe new life into a dying piece of hardware. After reports of dismal sales and third-party retailers sitting on hundreds of thousands of unsold TouchPads, HP decided to kill production after a mere 49 days on the market.
It was bad news for current TouchPad owners. No more HP hardware gives little incentive for webOS app developers to continue producing applications for the platform. In turn, TouchPad owners miss out on the latest popular applications to come to mobile devices. And of course, it gives potential customers no incentive to buy the remaining TouchPads retailers have in stock, costing HP and retail stores hundreds of millions of dollars. Everyone loses.
But if the porting plans work, it could mean bringing a slew of Android apps over to HP’s tablet. If the TouchPad can be made capable of running thousands of Android apps, the device may not be obsolete.
This isn’t the first time the Android-modification community tried to port the operating system over to non-Android devices. Android modders have run the operating system on Barnes And Noble’s Nook Color e-reader, certain Nokia smartphones and even an iPhone.