HP CEO Meg Whitman met with the webOS group today in a meeting that was expected to lay out a definitive plan about the future of the webOS platform. Whether HP was going to sell the platform outright or to shut it down, the meeting was believed called to let the affected employees know what their future might hold. Instead, reports are that Whitman explained they still don't know what they are going to do with webOS.
According to those at the meeting Whitman explained that whether or not to keep webOS is a complicated decision. The economics of such a move must be carefully considered before a final decision can be made. She went on to tell employees that "If HP decides [to keep webOS], we're going to do it in a very significant way over a multi-year period." In other words if they don't dump the platform outright, it will make it a viable business.
Excuse me for stating the obvious but a viable business was what HP had until it shockingly shut it down just a few weeks after launching its first webOS tablet. The company stepped up and killed the entire product line, in what can only be described as one of the most bizarre business moves in memory. This is significant as Whitman mentioned that any attempt at continuing with webOS would focus on tablets, as phones complicate the business. The tablet is what HP killed just 59 days after it hit the market.
So let's recap. HP killed webOS in a questionable move just a few weeks ago. The company stated it would decide what to do about it-- continue operating it as a product line, dump it, or sell it-- in short order. Whitman then calls this latest meeting to state that HP still can't figure out what to do with the webOS business. Maybe it will fire it back up, in which case it will do it right. Or not. The company can't figure it out yet because business is just so hard.
If ever a major corporation has doomed a product line to failure it is HP. Launch a product, kill it within days of that launch, announce you're getting out of that business, then state maybe not. Then call an all-hands meeting to tell affected employees how hard it is to decide what to do with their futures. If this isn't incompetence I don't know what is. At the very least is doesn't instill any confidence that HP knows what it is doing. About anything.
Image credit: Flickr user bixentro