Mobile

HP launches investigation into mysterious Android TouchPads, says it didn’t ship them

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An unauthorized shipment of TouchPads running the Android operating system has HP scrambling for leads, and open source advocates up in arms.

The TouchPads in question were supposed to ship with webOS, HP’s beleaguered mobile operating system. Instead, some users found that their TouchPads were actually running Android 2.2, a.k.a. Froyo.

As you can see in the video below, the user, who says he bought the TouchPad at Best Buy, demonstrates what he assumes is a test device from Qualcomm.

“I cannot find a way to get the Android Market or download any Android applications onto the device,” he writes.

“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,” writes Philip Robb of HP’s Open Source Program Office to cmtouchapd, a group attempting to develop a legitimate Android port for the TouchPad.

“We have confirmed that HP never authorized the distribution of any version of Android on the HP TouchPad,” Robb continued.

But the most interesting part of Robb’s email is a statement that HP never did, even accidentally, ship Android-running TouchPads.

“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,” he wrote.

Robb noted that the unauthorized Android TouchPads were seen internally as detrimental to HP’s relationship with the open-source community, and it asked the community to provide information that might help the company track down the source of these rogue units.

HP thinks an unknown person or group must have diverted the Android TouchPads “strictly against the policy and authorization of HP.”

More than one hacker group is also working on bringing Android to the TouchPad. Earlier this fall, we told you about the Touchdroid project, a group working on developing a port of Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

Robb noted for the developers working on Android ports for the TouchPad, “We applaud your efforts… It is your device, and you can do with it what you want.”