'TouchDroid' Project Hits a Snag

Hewlett-Packard's TouchPad tablet has only been dead a week and it's already become a much sought-after item. But a project to replace TouchPad's webOS with the open-source operating system Android already has hit a snag.

The group of programmers working to create a "TouchDroid" has had a rift, stemming from an alleged misrepresentation by one of the group's members -- and the possible misuse of donations meant for the project.

Allegations About Team Member

Project leader Thomas Sohmers has told news media that one team member used donations to buy TouchPads, which he then resold for a profit. Sohmers also said the unnamed person misrepresented his background and deleted the TouchDroid Twitter account when the questions started. There are also reports on the web that this team member deleted some critical development files.

The unnamed team member has denied the accusations. Sohmers has indicated he will be restarting the TouchDroid project with a few of the original team members.

Centered on the Rootz Wiki forum, the group -- called TouchDroid -- is looking to first port Android 2.3, Gingerbread, to the TouchPad, and then begin working on a port for Android 3.0, Honeycomb. Honeycomb is the first Android version designed specifically for tablets.

An Android on TouchPad page has also been established on Facebook.

One website, Hack N Mod, is offering a reward of $2,150 for a successful port of Android to the TouchPad. The total is actually broken down into components, such as $950 for the basic Android port, $350 for getting Wi-Fi working, and so on.

TouchDroid on eBay?

At the same time, there are web reports of some sightings of TouchPads already running Android, apparently the result of some tests by Qualcomm's internal developer group. One TouchPad running Android has been offered in an auction on eBay, and the seller, someone called Dallasboygreen, has suggested that the unit might be entered into the Hack N Mod competition.

On Thursday of last week, HP announced it would no longer manufacture devices using its webOS platform, which it obtained when it bought Palm for $1.2 billion in 2010. By Monday, the tablets were selling at $99 for the 16GB model, which was $499 when first released in July, and $149 for the 32GB, formerly $599.

That radical price drop led to a run on the remaining tablets, with the HP website, Best Buy, Amazon.com and other retailers reporting sellouts. HP has said it will make some more TouchPads available for sale shortly.