ASUS Eee Pad Transformer – How To Successfully Mess Up A Product Launch

by Damian on April 26, 2011 · 28 comments

in News

There has been several Android tablets released, and a few in the works, yet none that I have seen have generated as much excitement as the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer. Much of the excitement revolves around the price (USD 399/499 for 16GB/32GB) and the ability to add a dockable keyboard which provides more of a netbook experience (not to mention it doubles as a battery boosting battery life from an advertised 9.5 hours to 16 hours). Given the price point the Transformer definitely piqued my interest. Today was the announced U.S / Canada launch date, so I figured during my lunch break I would head over to Best Buy (ASUS was nice enough to provide a list of participating retailers) and pick one up, give it a whirl and do a post for the site here. Before heading over to Best Buy I decided to check online to make sure they had in stock. I tried searching on their site and no such product existed. Next I paid Newegg a visit which was another participating retailer and no such product existed (you can actually find the 16GB model here but if you actually try searching for it you will have no luck???). I went through the list of 5-10 more retailers and either the product did not exist, or it was listed as available for pre order (maybe it is just me but launch date and pre order don’t seem to go hand in hand???). I checked the ASUS twitter feed and nothing but a glowing “Eee Pad has been launched today” tweet. I took one final stab to figure out what was going on and went over to the ASUS Facebook page. After reading through some of the comments from users the picture got a little clearer. Everyone was experiencing the same issue, either the Transformer did not exist or it was available for pre order at a few select sites. Some websites the Transformer appeared and moments later disappeared. On Amazon.com supposedly right at midnight the Transformer appeared and within minutes it sold out. Throughout the day today the Transformer has reappeared for pre order, and moments later appears as unavailable. Even more amusing are sellers on eBay who are offering the Transformer at a premium, yet then state that it won’t be available until mid May (who in their right mind would pay a premium for a pre order???).

So could this possibly be the biggest launch date botch? I don’t know about that since I don’t usually follow product launch dates. However, I have to imagine this is pretty high up there. There are quite a few irate potential customers posting comments on ASUS’ facebook page. Several folks are pushing for everyone with pre orders to cancel and instead purchase alternatives like the just released Acer Iconia tablet or other. Adding to the confusion/anger is the fact that there has been no public announcement from ASUS. All I can gather is ASUS had a very short supply (with the intention of making available via online only except for a handful that I read were available at Frys), yet instead of being open about this or even delaying the launch date to allow for sufficient inventory ASUS just went ahead with their schedule. Only time will tell if this move cost them potential customers. On the bright side ASUS just provided quite a few Business Schools an excellent case study on how not to launch a product!





Article by

Hi, my name is Damian, and I'm tech gadget addict! Although I always had some interest in technology, it wasn't until I got my EX470 and more importantly found Mediasmartserver.net, that my interest became an addiction. My goal, aside from world domination and to see the Mets/Broncos win another championship, is to set up the perfect digital home where all my media is available at the click of a button. When I am not writing for Mediasmartserver.net you can find me over at my blog at http://www.adigitalhomeblog.com or follow me on twitter


{ 28 comments }

Jim April 26, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Damian–

I was hoping to read a review today, not a ASUS Screwed Up post!

Something similar happened with the EP 121. Once ASUS got the product up to speed in quantity, the issues resolved themselves, so I’m not surprised. However, this is a good way to lose customers.

Good luck finding one of these and I look forward to a review from you.

Jim

Damian April 26, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Jim –

I will admit that for some strange reason even though I have zero need for the Transformer I was definitely looking forward to getting, especially to have a little iPad2/Transformer battle.

I did get a pre order in to Amazon in between one the of the disappearing acts, but I am guessing this will lead to possibly a mid May or later arrival?

Cheers
Damian

CP April 26, 2011 at 2:02 pm

I agree that it was a total lack of execution or flexibility to change the plan on the launch. You would think with the immediate sell out on limited stock in the UK that they might stop and reconsider if there were a better way to approach it on the US introduction. I’ve been watching the momentum build as each review came in with pretty good marks and enthusiasm ramped up with the low price point. Definitely a lesson in how to fail to recognize and capitalize on a market that is sitting there begging to throw their money at your product.

Or if they just wanted to stick with the original plan, at the very least their communication could have been better about the situation.

I might guess that with all the Honeycomb delays that they suddenly found themselves to be one of the few games in town and weren’t ready for it at all. The Xoom showed us what Honeycomb can do, but the price was not right. Now there are a bunch of us that are ready to jump on the Honeycomb/tablet train knowing the rough edges will get smoothed out over time. The price is right, I’ve got mine on pre(back?) order. But I want it NOW and wish they had pushed out a much higher initial volume.

Damian April 26, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Yeah, the UK launch was ugly, I guess I just assumed they learned their lesson…

The sad part about the launch is it is apparent ASUS had no intention of making the Transformer available via Brick & Mortar stores (somehow Frys snuck in there, although I heard some of the stores only got 3 each), so why not own up to that ahead of time and tell people everything will be done via Online to start (and save people the time/money/aggravation spent driving to Best Buy or other).

I was able to get a pre(back) order in from Amazon for the 32GB + keyboard dock during the few minutes you could actually pre order before it went dark. I guess Amazon or other companies are only willing to allow for pre orders up to a certain number, otherwise why not just keep the pre order link active?

Supes April 26, 2011 at 2:38 pm

I went to several stores with no luck. Hell, they didn’t even know what the product was.

To put things in perspective: apparently only 40 Transformers were provided to newegg.com (http://img863.imageshack.us/img863/3460/neweggp.jpg). How is that considered a “launch?”

Damian April 26, 2011 at 2:43 pm

That is crazy. If ASUS really thought providing such a low number to each retailer was the right thing to do, then they obviously did not think highly enough about the Transformer!!!

Still odd that some other of the participating retailers listed still have no knowledge about the Transformer, did ASUS just throw them up on the list to add more credibility to the launch???

Supes April 26, 2011 at 2:48 pm

I personally think that they weren’t going to have the inventory for a proper launch (10,000+ available) until late May. If you managed to order off BestBuy.com, they just mention they’ll ship it in 2-3 weeks and all other sites that are accepting orders acknowledge that they’re basically pre-orders.

They rushed it so they could get there before the sleeker Galaxy Tab 10.1 and say they sold out in record time.

Damian April 26, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Agreed. I guess the marketing genius at ASUS behind this move isn’t looking like a Genius right now. I would love to see what their public statement regarding this would be (I am sure it will just be the stock “We underestimated how great the demand would be”)

Cubanblood April 26, 2011 at 5:28 pm

I agree they should have put a hold to the Eee Pad. I am a big Apple fan but i have to say that the Eee Pad look very promising, but how can you attract customers with this kind of launch? It was a big mistake and they will see the end result later.
On another note i dont think there will be a table this years that will challange the iPad, but next year its going to be a battle.

Damian April 26, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Agreed regarding your iPad comments. All the specs in the world don’t mean anything if the software isn’t mature and App developers are behind. Once you see enough Android tablets hit the market then maybe you will see developers take it (Honeycomb) more seriously. There will also be the Web OS tablet, by next year we will know for sure if the PlayBook is a serious contender, and who knows, we may see a legit Windows tablet based on W8.

Cubanblood April 26, 2011 at 7:25 pm

I think the time for a Windows based tablet is long gone. I thinks Android, Web Os and iOS will be the dominant OSs for tablets. When it comes to apps its going to be difficult to attract developers towards Android because the demand is not there( for tablets that is). We will see.

Damian April 27, 2011 at 6:56 am

I am not ready to write off a Windows based tablet. I know a few people who have W7 tablets and enjoy (notably Jim at the beginning of these comments). I think much of it hinges on how MS is able to support W8 which is supposed to be their first OS that is tablet optimized. Combine that with the powerful and low profile platforms (i.e. Sandy Bridge and Llano) and you could have a very interesting combination. If MS can pull of W8 I would much rather have a W8 SandyBridge/Llano tablet then an iPad/Android/WebOS. Granted, there can easily be a flaw in my thinking since I am relying on MS to follow through lol

I think if ASUS can pull of the Transformer or even Slider approach (dockable keyboard or slider keyboard) don’t be surprised if you start to see Laptops move in this direction as well, providing a laptop and tablet experience all in one. It will definitely be interesting to see how this all plays out in the coming year (s)

Jim April 27, 2011 at 10:57 am

Ok I’ll bite! I really don’t like the iOS/Android/Etc tablets because they mean that I am giving up something. I want to be able to surf anywhere on the net, do real work while travelling, watch movies that I have at home, Skype, etc. My wife’s iPad can’t even order pizza from PizzaHut.Com without an app! Seriously? Download an app to do what a browser that supports Flash can do? That is severely limiting. At least the XOOM can do that!

I bought the EP121. The only complaint is 3 hours of battery life. But with the 2nd generation Core series and continued development of Windows 8 to support tablets natively, I am really expecting 8 hours of battery life with no compromises. At that point, the whole iPad product class loses alot of its appeal to me. And I suspect to many many other people out there.

Jim

Damian April 27, 2011 at 11:08 am

C’mon Jim, what took you so long :-)

I think a perfect example of this is my Mom actually. She has an iPad 2 and got one of those keyboard accessories to go along with it, trying to turn it into a Laptop which it clearly is not. To add to that she in addition purchased a laptop. She liked the portability of the iPad 2 but needed the functionality of a PC/tablet. If you could get that all in one product, then why wouldn’t you? I am not saying a Windows Tablet would kill the iPad/Android tablet, but if executed successfully it could make enough people take that into consideration. But as I have mentioned already, a lot of this hinges on MS executing successfully on W8 (and there are a lot of suggestions that tablet functionality is being built in). If I could get a W8 “tablet optimized” tablet PC running on the Sandy Bridge/Llano platform, dockable keyboard, 5-8+ hr battery life, and a reasonable price, man that would be sweet. For now I will just have to dream :-)

Jim April 27, 2011 at 11:11 am

Damian–

Had to work! :-). I’ll make you a deal. If I am in Point Lookout this summer, I’ll pull off the beach for a few hours and let you testdrive the EP121. You’ll want to buy it on the spot. Deal? C’mon, it’s Nassau County!

Jim

Damian April 27, 2011 at 11:38 am

Nassau County, that is the “other” county :-)

I am seriously trying to cut back on my tech expenditures, you are not helping my cause!!!

Jim April 27, 2011 at 11:40 am

C’mon that’s why God invented the LIE! If I can drive 14 hours from the ethanol capital of the country, you can drive one county over! And you know that you need a Windows Tablet…

Damian April 27, 2011 at 11:58 am

Hey, its dangerous in that county, I have no idea what goes on over there (says the guy who has serial killer investigation going on at one of the beaches in suffolk)!!!

I am tearing up my credit cards now and donating all my money to Green Peace, no more gadgets for me, well at least for today :-)

Funksultan April 27, 2011 at 5:54 am

Not shocking, and definitely not the worst launch evar.

It’s all about tiers, and expectations of sales. The Transformer is an interesting product to be sure, but it’s not generating that much buzz (every day more and more tablets are announced… talk about segmenting!).

This is far from the status of a EVO 4G, Droid, or anything from Apple launch, and I’m sure they are willing to see how sales start to ramp up, rather than pull out all the stops for a monster release (lines outside of Best Buy, shelves everywhere stocked, etc).

Sorry you got let down man, but take it in stride. The Transformer isn’t aiming to be a ground breaker, so nobody (including ASUS) is gonna roll out that red carpet for it… Hopefully, it’s gonna be a sleeper that gets amazing reviews, and starts a chain reaction. The last one of those I can remember was the Wii. Good stuff.

Damian April 27, 2011 at 7:06 am

Actually in the tablet world the Transformer generated more buzz then just about any other tablet to date (sans the iPad of course). The transformer (at least from ASUS’ standpoint) was aiming to be a groundbreaker because of the price and the unique keyboard. It was just such a strange launch, ASUS built it up yet it seems like none of the participating retailers even knew anything about (you saw zero advertisements prior). Just a head scratcher what their marketing team was thinking lol

Funksultan April 27, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Like most tech-heads, I pretty much live at Engadget (when not watching for news here at MSS.net!). *grin* There was a -little- buzz about the transformer, but nothing close to the Galaxy tab. At least, not any more than the other tabs coming along.

Still, very interested to hear the reviews. HTC has one on the horizion, and they’re starting to build quite a name for themselves in that space.

Get us the lowdown asap! We have to have something to keep us occupied until DB goes gold and we can start building new home servers.

Cubanblood April 27, 2011 at 7:21 am

You said it right “if MS can pull it of”.

Damian April 27, 2011 at 7:53 am

Well there you have it, ASUS proclaiming how they must be so loved since the Transformer sold out in record in North America. Well, when you are a multi national company and produce 200 units for a whole continent, really not much of an accomplishment here…

https://www.facebook.com/notes/asus-eee/eee-pad-transformer-sold-out-in-north-america/194700557240017

Richard (All4Fun) April 27, 2011 at 3:50 pm

This really is too funny. Did Asus release 1 Transformer per North American city? What’s even more funnier is that Asus spins this to be positive news. How these C-level execs get paid is beyond me.

Damian April 27, 2011 at 3:53 pm

You can’t make this stuff up….

tOn April 27, 2011 at 9:45 pm

thank god, someone finally telling the truth………..
i am so sick of seeing all those report about how they sold out their transformer!!
first it show up at best buy’s web site almost a month ago, then took down right away.
for the past month, there was no commercial, no news or anything to advertise this Pad, besides Transformer fan page.
there were no one in any retail stores know about it or can’t even find it in their system
with the way Asus delayed all the other countrie’s Transformer supply, I think getting an IPad2 might be easier than getting a Transformer
if you just gotta get an Android Pad, might as well wait for the new Samsung Galaxy 10.1 Pad which comes out June 8 or the 8.9 version next month
heck, you might not be able to get a Transformer untill then anyway

Seth April 28, 2011 at 10:39 am

This year for tablets is going to be very interesting to watch. Just like when Apple first launched the iPhone, the launch of the iPad gave Apple a rather large technological lead. It took years for the other cell phone manufacturers to catch up to Apple but, because of Apple’s monolithic product cycles, the other manufacturers have now managed to surpassed Apple in both technology and price (Apple doesn’t make the fastest, thinnest, highest resolution/pixel density, least expensive “high-end” phone anymore). The numbers to really pay attention to aren’t just existing market share, either, but the share growth numbers which are absolutely staggering for Android devices (like 800%+). The tablet market may turn out to be a repeat of this.

At the beginning of Q4 2010 Apple owned almost 100% market share in the tablet space. At the end of Q4 2010 sales of the original Galaxy Tab alone ate 25% of Apple’s tablet market share, and that’s just one device from one competitor. RIM’s Playbook will likely absorb whatever Enterprise market share the iPad has had up to this point (a friend of mine who works at the HQ of a large, international bank got a memo that all the iPads being used internally at the company are being replaced with Playbooks, which should come as no surprise since RIM has about an 80% market share in companies with more than 1,000 employees). Now you’ve got Dell, Acer, HP, ASUS, Lenovo, Motorola, Samsung, HTC and several other major manufacturers throwing their hats into the tablet market this year with tablets ranging all over the price/feature spectrum.

As for ASUS flubbing the Transformer launch, it’s not like droves of people who were waiting to buy one are going to rush out and buy an iPad, a Galaxy Tab or a Motorola Xoom instead so I don’t really see it as a big deal; with the limited selection of tablets currently available the Transformer fits a particular os/price/size/feature criteria that isn’t met by any of the other products (Galaxy Tab too small, Xoom too expensive, iPad wrong OS, etc…). Think of it like Apple finally launching the white iPhone, anyone who wanted one and couldn’t get one probably didn’t run out and buy a white Nokia phone instead.

Comp1962 April 29, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Looks like an interesting unit. I don’t need one but everytime I see one I think about how cool it would be to turn on WIFI and connect to my MiFi and use it as a GPS in the car. One because I am always lost and two at my age I need a big screen to see where I am going. But where do you mount a monster like that anyway?

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