HP Is Discontinuing WebOS Devices, Exploring Options To Still Use WebOS For…Something

Well, you can’t say no one saw this coming, but HP has just confirmed that they will “discontinue operations” of WebOS devices, including the Pre line of phones and the TouchPad. This comes on the heels of reports that Best Buy has sold an embarrassingly low number of TouchPads. Not to mention a long-delayed US release of the Pre 3.

HP confirmed on a conference call Thursday evening that sales of the TouchPad were failing to meet expectations. However, this was in spite of the fact that, according to HP, “the effect of the tablet is real”. Most curiously,  though, is how quickly they moved from “tablets are important” to “we need to restructure our [computer division]”. As well as mentioning that they hope to salvage some of the services from WebOS. Perhaps HP has realized that devices aren’t as important these days as whole ecosystems?

Courtesy of Finanz Nachrichten, we have this confirmation directly from HP, which was reiterated during their conference call later this evening:

In addition, HP reported that it plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones. HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward.

It’s unclear what HP will do with WebOS if not phones and tablets, and we’ll leave the speculation to you. What is clear is that HP is looking at a serious restructure of their company. Including possibly spinning or restructuring off their Personal Systems Group division. That would be the division that makes desktops, laptops, calculators, and basically everything else you care about from HP. Their board of directors has “authorized the exploration of strategic alternatives” for the PSG, because executives can’t say “we need to clean up this mess.” There’s also talks of acquiring Autonomy Corporation.

HP isn’t exactly on the down and outs, of course. Preliminary reports indicate that HP pulled in $31.2b for Q3, up from $30.7b the previous year. This restructuring is more likely a house cleaning exercise than an attempt to “save” the company in any way (as opposed to, say, how we might approach any restructuring at Nokia). Still, HP is clearly looking to separate the wheat from the chaff, and WebOS has gotten caught in the crossfire.

In related news, the Noisecast is in the midst of restructuring our mixed metaphors department.

During the conference call, HP also dropped a number of bombshells, including calling out Oracle for “anti-competitive behavior”, as well as declaring their intention to “drive more value-added IP into our portfolio” which of course means getting a piece of this patent war action.

Source: Finanz Nachrichten

1 thought on “HP Is Discontinuing WebOS Devices, Exploring Options To Still Use WebOS For…Something”

  1. I still have my Palm Pilot Professional that my then girlfriend (now wife) got me for Christmas back in 1997, when it was still made by US Robotics. It was my first organizer, and really, my first gadget. And I thought it was amazing. I’ve been a fan of Palm organizers ever since. I upgraded to a Handspring Visor (ooh – color!) after that, and finally a Sony Clie.

    I watched Palm spin off from USR, launch its IPO, license its OS to Handspring and Sony, and I lusted after the Treo, the first “real” smartphone (in my opinion). If I wasn’t already an Apple devotee, I would have bought the original Pre with webOS, but by then, I was firmly entrenched in the iPhone OS, the app catalog I had already spent money on, and the smooth syncing with my MacBook Pro.

    I watched the HP acquisition of Palm with a wary eye. I’ve seen HP screw things up before, and was worried that they really wouldn’t know what to do with a company like Palm. I put some of those fears aside when HP/Palm had their press conference back in February, and introduced the Veer, Pre 3 and the TouchPad. Inductive charging? Tap the Pre to the Touchpad to transfer what you’re reading or listening to? Complete cloud syncing? These kind of things made me envious, and proud of Palm for the innovation. But I still didn’t trust HP.

    And then the Pre 3 was delayed. And then the TouchPad came out to less than stellar reviews. And I knew that company like HP, who is only focused on quarterly shareholder reports, would never have the patience to see this thing through.

    So I’m sad. I’m sad for the lost opportunity. I’m sad for the unfulfilled potential. And I’m sad that Palm, who started an industry, is just a footnote now. RIP Palm.

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