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.