Leo Apotheker's HP never wanted webOS to succeed

Leo Apotheker's HP never wanted webOS to succeed

Summary: Take a close look at HP's radical makeover's timing: The company never gave webOS a chance. Apotheker came in meaning to transform the company into his old home: SAP.


I liked webOS, HP's Linux-based take on a tablet operating system. I thought it had a shot to be a tablet player. But, then, Leo Apotheker, HP's new CEO, along with spinning off HP's PC business, killed webOS. Was it because, as Apotheker said, the tablet effect is real and sales of the TouchPad are not meeting our expectations,” and that the TouchPad was quickly becoming a money pit? No, no it wasn't.

Yes, webOS and the TouchPad were doing badly on the market. But, so what? A company the size of HP doesn't get out of the consumer PC market and new tablets and spin around on a dime because it can't be as “as cool as Apple.” No, it does so because Apotheker and his cronies had planned for months to try to transform HP into their old company, SAP, and go head to head not so much with IBM, but his old sparring partner, Oracle.

While HP's rank and file continued to work on its PCs and took the TouchPad to market, Apotheker was replacing HP's top-level brass with his old friends from SAP. Apotheker never intended for HP to become an Apple competitor; his plan was to recreate the gray, enterprise business of SAP that was his comfort zone.

Autonomy, his new purchase and ticket back to enterprise computing, is best known for business intelligence (BI) and business analytics. The company, however, is not a big name BI firm. All the financial analysts, and I mean all of them, think that the acquisition, at a cool $10-billion, was a waste of money and a poor strategic move. The market agrees. As I write this HP's stock has sunk to a six year low.

God knows who will buy HP's PC business, no one else has a clue. Michael Dell, CEO of Dell computer, made a snarky comment that perhaps HP should just spin off its PC business into a new company and call it Compaq. Ow!

What I think happened is that Apotheker never seriously considered supporting webOS or HP's PC business. He was just letting the PC division and the former Palm group go through the motions while he was setting up his long term strategic vision: Recreating his own version of SAP to complete with IBM. Good luck with that.

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Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, Mobile OS, Mobility, Operating Systems, Tablets

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  • RE: Leo Apotheker's HP never wanted webOS to succeed

    Michael Dell has little room to talk after his comment a few years back about how Apple should fold its tent. Now Apple could buy Dell with an accounting error in its profit sheet. People who live in glass houses...
    • They all say stuff against each other. Even Apple


      Steve Jobs had said a few himself, so I just ignore it all.
      William Farrell
  • Steve, here is a first -

    I am in total agreement with you.

    (and yes, that actually hurt to say that)
    William Farrell
    • First time for everyrthing

      @William Farrell <br><br>Gotta give a +1 to that statement. Same boat!
  • Linux failed... again

    Man that must piss you off.
  • RE: Leo Apotheker's HP never wanted webOS to succeed

    Sour grapes, another Linux-based mobile OS crashes and burns. If you are lucky, Google or Samsung may end up with the Palm and WebOS IP. Thus, helping Android to survive and prosper.<br><br>Others have placed the blame on the HP hardware used for the TouchPad. This rings somewhat true as successive CEOs at HP, from Carly Fiorina onward, have all done their bit to gut the HP created by its founders.<br><br>Perhaps, in addition to asking who will end up with Palm and WebOS, we should be asking who ultimately will be responsible for the VMS systems associated with Minuteman missiles:<br><br><a href="http://storagezilla.typepad.com/partingshot/2009/11/openvms-84-field-test.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://storagezilla.typepad.com/partingshot/2009/11/openvms-84-field-test.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://storagezilla.typepad.com/partingshot/2009/11/openvms-84-field-test.html</a></a>
    Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Waaaaaah. The truth is webOS was a dead man walking before HP bought it.

    This was a second chance it didn't deserve to begin with. It failed yet again. Want has nothing to do with it. Not even Leos wants. If it had answered the pent up demand and sold faster than they could make them this wouldn't be happening. They weren't just selling poorly they were an EPIC FAIL. Really truly EPIC. Anyone who is still eligible for return/refund should return theirs immediately. This isn't hindsight , I gave you this advice the first week you bought yours. I can only hope you didn't spend much more on apps for it. Maybe if you act quick you can get a write off by donating it to a museum or something .
    Johnny Vegas
    • Yes, and John Rubenstein is personally responsible at least for hardware ..

      @Johnny Vegas: ... failure of TouchPad, and relatively bland smartphones.

      So the project failed both technically and architecturally twice.

      <b>This has nothing to do with Apotheker.</b>
      • Yes and No


        HP's board of directors brought him in to do just what he has done. He was just waiting for the right moment to drop the hammer.
        Hiring Leo is, was, and always has been about making HP another IBM/Oracle. They thought Hurd could do it, and they were wrong.
      • Apotheker said half year ago that HP will ship 100 million WebOS devices ..

        @reklissrick: ... next year, and the it is in the core of HP strategy.

        If Apotheker was brought to kill WebOS and shed PC business, then this is very convoluted way to do so.

        The more so taking account that Apotheker was brought to fill-in Hurd's place, which left unplanned after a scandal.
      • So why dump it after only six weeks???


        3 words: Rope-a-Dope.

        And a bad one at that.
      • Apotheker is right: WebOS devices turned out to be big failure, so he ...

        @reklissrick: ... decided to kill it.

        If TouchPad would fly, selling like at least million of units it these 1.5 months, then this would be still small part of the market comparing to iPad (which sells 1 million units per week), but this could be promising. Then there could be hope for growth.

        So Apotheker gave it chance, but Rubinstein failed the hardware part big way. He could only work near-to-flawlessly under harsh control of Steven Jobs at Apple. On his own, he showed that his quality standards are weak.
  • SAP

    I use sap at work and absolutely hate it. You do everything the sap way or the hiway. Once again HP was a technology leader for decades, higher a CEO thats a bean counter and software wonk and he drives it into the SAP ditch.
  • Sad, Sad, Day

    As a Mac user I still find this to be a truly sad day for a couple of reasons. First, this will drive the price of PCs and Macs up. No matter who buys HPs computer division, the stigma of a sub-par ROI within PCs will drive up prices and the laws of supply and demand will catch up with the market. Yes, the market is down right now; but so is the market for everything, except tablets. For all of the great publicity and articles written about the MacBook Air, it is not even listed in Apple's own store site, as a top seller in the Mac category. I think Leo had either decided beforehand that he was going to HP into SAP, or this is like New Coke; a great publicity stunt to launch something or bring back reminiscent demand. However, for Leo to use tablets as an excuse is pathetic at best. Three years ago netbooks were going to make laptops and desktops obsolete, still here. Now it is tablets; tablets will be here to stay, but at a much lower price point at a later time and more of a PC or Mac enhancement than a standalone unit. The second reason this is a sad day, in my opinion, is that out of all of the PC makers (with the possible exception of Sony and Lenovo) HP was the best. They made quality units and were the most customizable of the group. While I only use PCs at work, I like to stay up to date with what the latest trends are, since I may have to work on them some day at work. Don't believe me, just check out the latest incarnation of the 14" HP Envy. No other maker, not even my beloved Apple, offers a real Hybrid Drive option at a very fair price point. Just my two cents, and I know that my opinion on the quality and features of HP are subjective, but I try to come from an unbiased point of view.
  • Touch pad demise

    It was out for only a month and a half? Sheesh, the way HP managment and everyone else is playing this, it was still born before hitting the masses. This is really short sighted as anything like this would take time to build momentum. This is a failure of the markets expecting immediate return on investments. HP had all the marketing channels to make this eventually happen. I would have at least given it a year or more. The thought that everyone will have less choice does not benefit anyone.
    Brock Lee
  • RE: Leo Apotheker's HP never wanted webOS to succeed

    Silly decision. HP had a lot of potential with WebOS. It was quick, responsive and surprisingly powerful (plenty of steel behind the veil, if you will). To be honest, at the rate it was being developed it was quite possible to make a noticeable dent in Android's market share.

    Technologically it was sound. It seems as if HP has lost it's long-term vision. Android exploded in no time- and the same potential was still available for WebOS. It's a grand shame they did not use their gross market share and reputation they had to push it more.
  • RE: Leo Apotheker's HP never wanted webOS to succeed

    One aspect of possible (or probable?) reasons for poor sales of TouchPad and Palm Pre not mentioned by article author or any commenters, is that Palm nor HP make gargantuan efforts to get Apps developed for devices before introduction.

    Sitting and waiting (and hoping) apps will come is ridiculous. Microsoft has always been cognizant of this critical early step, and moved accordingly.

    Many of the other proclamations may have some merit, but this one needs to be in the mix.