HP's PC, WebOS bombshells: Opportunities or warning signs for Google?

HP's PC, WebOS bombshells: Opportunities or warning signs for Google?

Summary: As Google and HP headed down similar business paths, HP's sudden jolt to its business model will impact the rest of the tech industry. So, what's the Google factor?

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HP’s bombshell news - that it was walking away from WebOS and spinning off its PC division - is another big move that will undoubtedly have long-term ripple effects across the tech industry. What will the impact of this news be for Microsoft, specifically Windows and Office? What about Dell, HP’s long-time PC nemesis? Does this impact what other players - from RIM or Acer to Oracle or IBM - are doing in their respective businesses?

And then there’s Google.

No one was talking much about Google in the flood of posts that overtook the tech blogosphere as the news unraveled. That’s because, initially, there are others who will feel the impact of HP's news in a bigger way. HP and Google aren't largely viewed as having the same business goals and strategies.

Google, for example, isn’t a hardware company, though its bid for Motorola Mobility could change that. Google isn't the big player in the enterprise, though it clearly has such aspirations. Like pretty much everyone else, Google's tablet efforts aren't even causing Apple to so much as blink. Its push into the PC game, via Chromebooks, is still very early - no where near the level that HP's PC business was. Finally, Google was leaps and bounds ahead of HP in the mobile phone software game.

So what's the Google factor in the HP news?

When you think about where each of the companies were heading - trying to gain some ground in tablets, the mobile phone market, enterprise and cloud - there are more similarities than you might first think. Granted, the two companies weren't exactly in each other's faces today - but their roadmaps would have eventually put them into the same arenas.

Yet, now that HP has thrown a wrench into the game, will it impact Google's roadmap for the future - either by creating new opportunities or by waving red flags about possible market pitfalls?

Let's look at the PC as an example. There’s plenty of chatter about this so-called post-PC era and a shift to tablets - but I'm not ready to start reading any eulogies to the traditional personal computer just yet. Consider the growth of Macbooks in Apple's most recent quarter - a 41 percent year-over-year jump - at a time when Dell is putting less emphasis on consumer PCs and HP is bowing out completely.

Maybe this isn't a case of post-PC - but rather a turning point in the PC industry where Windows loses some major relevance points and alternative OS's step in to provide a better user experience. Apple has already proven that experience matters - and Google is betting on a cloud-only, browser-only type of experience. It's still early for Chromebooks - but maybe HP's exit from the business is more of an opportunity. After all, Chromebooks still have plenty of potential to lure in more buyers - if Google can make more refinements.

On the other hand, HP’s wasted attempt to break into the tablet game with Palm’s WebOS should be a lesson for Google.

Yes, one of the players trying to gnaw away at the non-iPad market is out of the way. But Google is going to have to up its game - and quick - if it wants to gain any traction in tablets. James Kendrick explains “Why consumers won’t buy tablets (unless they’re iPads)” and a lot of the reasoning comes down to marketing and simplicity. Apple does an amazing job on both fronts. Others - Google included - still have a few things to learn. And that makes HP's exit from the tablet game a red flag warning for Google - gaining traction against Apple in the tablet space is going to be really tough so long as Apple has raised the bar so high.

With all things considered, is this HP bombshell good news or bad news for a company like Google? Overall, I think it provides Google with more opportunities because it's early in the game for many of these 21st century business models, such as cloud computing and tablets, and that still leaves some time (and valuable lessons from others) for Google to innovate, tweak, re-innovate and re-tweak to make the experiences that much better.

That's what I think. But I'd like to know what you think? What's the Google factor here? And should the HP news be viewed as a good thing or a bad thing for Google?

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

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  • RE: HP's PC, WebOS bombshells: Opportunities or warning signs for Google?

    Chromebooks? Really? That's tech's next bombshell. I think HP sold more TouchPads than Google's goons have sold Chromebooks.

    Browser only OS is as fail as they come.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: HP's PC, WebOS bombshells: Opportunities or warning signs for Google?

      @Cylon Centurion
      Agreed, they won't even talk sales numbers, I estimate 25,000 or less..
      Hasam1991
      • RE: HP's PC, WebOS bombshells: Opportunities or warning signs for Google?

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      • RE: HP's PC, WebOS bombshells: Opportunities or warning signs for Google?

        @Hasam1991
        So where did you get the numbers you claim?

        Microsoft isn't talking sales numbers for Windows Phone 7 because the sales were very poor. The market share for Windows 7 Phones were estimated from the Internet footprint at sites like Facebook apps are preloaded on all Windows Phone 7s that were shipped. Microsoft gave out figures for Windows Phone 7s that were shipped, but most were returned because customers didn't buy them.

        I think you should be careful about comparing Microsoft's failed attempt to sell Windows Phone 7s with Google's selling of Chromebooks. Microsoft ran a massive ad campaign, shipped out huge numbers, and sold in all outlets including retail outlets where customers could try out the phones before buying. Google on the other hand made a low key start. The product launched lacking a lot of things that would normally be considered essential - offline application capability, VPN, Netflix/Hulu capability, remote desktop capability, plug-in capability, a decent file manager etc. and it is being directed to early adopters in schools and businesses who will provide them with feedback, and let Google troubleshoot the provisioning and administration system Google provides, rather than being sold as a release to the general public. If you look back 6 months, Google gave out prototype Cr48 laptops to people who were prepared to test and provide feedback. These early adopter sales should therefore be seen as Google preparing the ground for a full release with advertising and general promotion later when everything due to be added is in place. This is typically Google - they kept Google Docs in beta long after it was stable and reliable and others would have released it as a stable release.
        Mah
    • RE: HP's PC, WebOS bombshells: Opportunities or warning signs for Google?

      @Cylon Centurion

      I don't want to rain on your fanboy parade, but WebOS had about 2% worldwide market share when HP pulled it. That's twice as many as Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 (Microsoft's corresponding product) sold at 1% of world marketshare, and in a far shorter time and with far less spent on advertising than the $0.5 billion Microsoft spent on promoting Windows Phone 7.

      WebOS is a mobile phone and tablet OS which runs applications locally on the device. It bears no similarity at all with Chromebooks. The corresponding Google product is Android which is doing rather well - 52% of smartphones and 20% (and increasing) of tablets sold today are Android devices.

      As for Chromebooks, they have been selling for only about a month now with little advertising, and only online on Amazon and Best Buy, but they have been selling well regardless, remaining in Amazon's best seller list the whole time. This is despite Google not pushing it for sale to the general public, but for early adopter businesses and schools. The reason is because there are still some things in development - Binary Native Client plug-in capability, VPN, Netflix and Citrix Receiver were added in a very recent update, and offline Google Docs capability, native image editing, and Portable Native Client capability and other stuff is still due. These will come later this year, and early adopters will get an upgrade when it does.

      Chromebooks aren't necessarily the best option for everybody, but schools, businesses, libraries, public sector information system workers, and casual users will love it, and I believe it will prove very popular. Chromebook is a completely different concept from WebOS and isn't a competitor to it Android, the iPhone, or the iPad. Instead, it is a competitor to the Windows desktop paradigm, buts seeks to replace the Windows desktop with a different concept rather compete as a like for like replacement for the Windows desktop.
      Mah
    • RE: HP's PC, WebOS bombshells: Opportunities or warning signs for Google?

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  • well google may be putting his feet on the battle ground for real

    With the acquisition of Motorola what next pc and real google tablet ..... the next version of android build without the oracle worry .... both Microsoft and apple should worry .

    The new guy on the battlefield may well be a juggernaut. and soon all may feel the pressure

    I predicted a nice patent war a few month ago a number of you laugh .... what about now

    I truly think that the next few month will by hi in color and carnage who next to by swallow rim ,hp,htc ,samsung, what will happen about the palm web os failure ........

    wow you bet is a good as mine .
    Quebec-french
    • RE: HP's PC, WebOS bombshells: Opportunities or warning signs for Google?

      @Quebec-french
      Look the Mac people will never go to Google, way too much loyalty there and as more and more people like me try Apple products like iPads, our next purchase is that shiny new MacBook Air...

      Should anyone be worried it would me Microsoft but every single company in the world runs Windows and that will not change overnight. I don't see Google doing any damage there...
      Hasam1991
      • you right

        @Hasam1991

        Apple fan are disciple and microsoft has the largest piece of the pie yet .....

        so specialist claim that android is at 50% of the market ....

        from there with a few acquisition lets say Motorola last , lets say plam and web os at huge rebate .....

        Google could become a game changer not over night but if or should win 8 is not good or as bad as vista or early 7 ..... who knows what the future hold .


        Im not saying that Google will storm the market but honestly who wound have predict the fall of rim and Symbian os 24 to 12 month ago .....

        in 12 to 24 who knows what will happen
        Quebec-french
      • RE: HP's PC, WebOS bombshells: Opportunities or warning signs for Google?

        @Hasam1991

        Chromebooks will draw off Windows desktop users rather than Mac, iPad, or Android users, and some of those users who switch to Chromebooks from Windows will carry on using Windows applications on Windows desktop virtual machines running on a server through Citrix Receiver.
        Mah
    • RE: HP's PC, WebOS bombshells: Opportunities or warning signs for Google?

      @Quebec-french Google had this Kool-Aide called "Google Math" that they all drink. Google Math is when 1000 vendors each selling 1 Android phone is an Android "WIN!" over Apple selling 950 iPhones. "Woo woo! We're beating iOS!!" Motorola and HP know now that it's just Kool-Aide and that Google Math is wrong. Google believes it so much they bought Motorola to get in on the huge profits people are making off of them with Google Math. Folks just remember, Google = Evil. You can't go wrong.
      PopDigify
  • History repeats itself

    Recall IBM in the 80s dropping out [of the PC Business]--their reason:<br>The market had become commodity like, fractious, and thin margins.<br><br>IBM didn't fade away nor will HP.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
    • RE: HP's PC, WebOS bombshells: Opportunities or warning signs for Google?

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate

      I'd agree (and I thought it was the '90s, when Lou Gerstner took over?), but consider the following:

      1.) The server space HP is looking at is rife with competitors already.

      2.) IBM became a very strong services and R&D company, and focused on the backbone end of computing.

      3.) HP blew its opportunity to buy Novell, which would have given them a LOT strategically (a well-known and highly regarded Linux distribution built for the enterprise backend not being the least of these).

      4.) The really big Internet services companies (Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Apple, Amazon, etc.) don't resource their hardware from manufacturers like HP. They build it themselves from components they source from OEMs.

      My assessment is, in the computer market, this is going to be a real uphill challenge for HP, since the market players are so entrenched, and they don't seem to have a compelling, disruptive technology platform to offer. Apple came to dominate consumer electronics and computing via the iPod-iPhone-iPad route, wherein they make low-cost, high-margin devices through a tightly-coupled vertical architecture of a small line of devices, and exactly two operating systems. They don't have to engineer an OS or application for a diversity of platforms, or other manufacturer's hardware. This saves them personnel resources, testing costs, reduces time to market, and allows them to focus tightly on the quality of Apple stuff. Microsoft has the reverse problem, and has to work with EVERYBODY on HW compatibility, while driving a video game product line, a phone product line, a tablet platform of Windows, a server version, and all the applications (Office, Explorer, etc.). That requires an enormous investment in talented personnel (engineers), as well as a long lead time for testing of each platform.

      HP, conversely, makes an incredibly diverse array of products (medical, components, systems, peripherals). They do hardware R&D well, across a broadly diverse market. As far as software, it has often felt like they don't take it seriously. I think the time for them to pursue the enterprise backbone side of the business was a long time ago. When did they come up with a new CPU? Video architecture? Hard drive? Memory type?

      If HP goes the IBM route of innovation, services, integration, R&D and big-iron type installations, they have to compete with... IBM and Oracle. While they get ramped up, their competitors are extending mature product lines and market share.

      I worry about what I perceive as a lack of strategic vision from my former company (18 years ago).
      nospam7
    • RE: HP's PC, WebOS bombshells: Opportunities or warning signs for Google?

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate
      80's ? or do you mean Lenovo?
      Hasam1991
    • RE: HP's PC, WebOS bombshells: Opportunities or warning signs for Google?

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate

      Actually HP's announcement wasn't released properly. HP is dropping out of both the PC and WebOS mobile business. They haven't specifically dropped WebOS per se, instead they are dropping out of the hardware business which includes their all their PC and mobile device hardware. They are trying to sell both off to others. However in a market where Android is so dominant, it is difficult to see who might buy WebOS.
      Mah
  • But......but.........but................

    The Googleplex is chock full of the most brilliant minds in the universe! How can they fail?
    Userama
  • RE: HP's PC, WebOS bombshells: Opportunities or warning signs for Google?

    Please stop this non-sense talk about chrome book, its utter sh*t.

    Post PC is just a myth. PC, Laptops and Ultrabooks will always be there.

    The truth about tablets is that its just an extra device, it doesn't replace anything. The maximum it could eat into PC, Laptops and Ultrabooks market sales would be no more than 2 to 4 percent. The OEMs can cover this lost sales by selling tablets.

    Windows 8 will outshine iOS pads. So OEMs has nothing to worry about an Apple domination
    owlnet
    • RE: HP's PC, WebOS bombshells: Opportunities or warning signs for Google?

      @owlnet
      WINDOWS 8 will be another Vista, look how well WP7 is selling...
      Hasam1991
      • RE: HP's PC, WebOS bombshells: Opportunities or warning signs for Google?

        @Hasam1991

        I think it will be the exact opposite. There is pent up demand for a great Windows tablet, which means if Microsoft gets it right, Windows 8 will take off just as much as Windows 7 did.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • RE: HP's PC, WebOS bombshells: Opportunities or warning signs for Google?

        If Microsoft does come out with a decent Windows 8 you would have a tablet that will have printer drivers, will be able to access data from a server, run actual programs that we use on a daily basis and actually work like a computer not the crap tablets that are out now including the Ipad.
        @Hasam1991
        rusty15