HP: webOS hardware dead, PC business could be spun off

HP: webOS hardware dead, PC business could be spun off

Summary: Another tablet bites the dust as HP shutters webOS hardware and considers spinning off its entire PC business.

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In a shock announcement yesterday HP announced that it is to cease production of webOS devices such as the TouchPad and that it may consider a sale of spin-off or its PC group.

What's gone wrong at HP?

First, some background. HP is the largest PC maker in the world with a quarterly revenue of $31.2 billion. Riding on its success as a PC OEM, HP grabbed webOS as part of its $1.2 billion Palm deal last year. HP promised that we'd see the webOS OS used on a myriad of devices, from phones to printers, tablets to PCs.

HP released the webOS-powered TouchPad tablet on July 1. At first it seemed that it had a chance against the iPad; after all, it was new, exciting and had the backing of the biggest OEM. But then things started to go wrong. First HP pre-announced a better, faster TouchPad, then started cutting prices, and then came the rumors that Best Buy was sitting on 200,000 unsold TouchPads and wanted HP to take them back.

And then, out of the blue, HP announced yesterday that there will be no more webOS hardware.

What will happen to webOS? At present, this is unclear. Insiders at HP claim that the company is still committed to developing webOS as a platform, but where this will go is unclear. Personally I don't see HP wanting to get into the licensing business (something it has no experience in). I think it is sell or shutter time for webOS.

So what went wrong? I think that bottom line, it's clear that HP thought that purchasing Palm was a gigantic mistake, and trying to push a webOS tablet on the public in the way that HP did was also a huge and costly mistake. It seems that Apple is still the only company that possesses the necessary secret sauce to sell tablets and make a profit. The fact that Apple has managed to outmaneuver the big PC OEMs when it comes to tablets should also be cause for concern.

Whatever will happen next, the Touchpad is dead.

OK, so HP's webOS aspirations have crashed and burned, but what's wrong with its OEM business?

Pretty much the same thing that's wrong with every other PC OEM. Profit margins are razor thin and people aren't spending as much as they used to, and even as the biggest OEM on the block, HP doesn't want to play any more. Announcing its intentions to exit from the business now shows that the company also has no faith in Windows 8 to make things better. To have a major OEM decide that it no longer wants to play in the PC market with Windows 8 just around the corner must be a major cause for concern over at Redmond.

Overall, while it's shocking how quickly HP pulled the plug on the TouchPad (after only 49 days on sale, a time period even shorter that that of Microsoft's Kin handsets, which were on sale for 55 days before having the plug pulled), what's far scarier here for the industry as a whole is that HP wants out of the PC business.

Feeling a little glum because HP pulled the plug on your TouchPad after only a few weeks of life? Here's a little something to help lighten the mood:

(NSFW - Caption language)

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Topics: Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, Mobile OS, Operating Systems

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18 comments
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  • RE: HP: webOS hardware dead, PC business could be spun off

    I think HP leaves the game for no more then a year or two and they will be back, and better then ever... There is still a huge market in the home PC and Laptop business, and they know this... I think they are just taking a step back to get a creative edge on things.
    Aaron_McCray
    • RE: HP: webOS hardware dead, PC business could be spun off

      @Aaron_McCray If they sell off their PC manufacturing business, how can they "get back in the game" a year later?
      jgm2
      • RE: HP: webOS hardware dead, PC business could be spun off

        @jgm@... They have not officially announced they are selling off their PC division entirely, they still have warrenties they have to uphold. I think we are on the heals of a major announcement from HP, what that is I can only speculate but they took a beating today down 20% per share. They need something big and they need it soon if they plan to stay in business.
        Aaron_McCray
    • RE: HP: webOS hardware dead, PC business could be spun off

      @Aaron_McCray
      and SURE it will be standing high in software industry (information managment)
      http://www.geekwindow.com/2011/08/hp-departs-from-pc-and-tablet-business.html
      TechExpert21
  • History repeats itself?

    Recall IBM in the 80s dropping out [of the PC Business]--their reason:
    The market had become commodity like, fractious, and thin margins.

    IBM didn't fade away nor will HP.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
    • RE: HP: webOS hardware dead, PC business could be spun off

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate But this VERY bad news for Linux. HP was something to test against, a LOT of Linux boxes have HP badges on them.

      This makes me VERY sad. While I don't really care much about the loss of a Windows OEM, the loss of such a "standard" for hardware testing IS bad news.

      I'm in the UK, the next name I think of is Lenovo. Buying Lenovo in the UK is an exercise in frustration. Once you've snagged one the support is very good - getting one and not paying "window tax" is rather hard.

      So I'm sad to see HP's difficulties, and the loss of webOS is also painful. I'd genuinely wanted to see a big of real competition for Apple (to keep them honest) in the "professional" space, instead all we seem left with are Android devices that seem very third rate indeed.

      This is all very sad.

      I used IBM systems in the past (RS/6000 running AIX) but currently they aren't a company I deal with... HP seem to be going the same way.
      Jeremy-UK
    • But who is the more dependent on that income

      IBM had long ago transitioned into a services company with high end server hardware. I argued at the time, and still believe, they should have continued to offer IBM branded PCs. They, like HP, needed to target their enterprise customers with a reduced range and get out of the consumer market.

      The problem with HP, as I see it, is a series of difficult to understand management decisions: Compaq, Palm, ...

      Seems at odds with their software push over the last decade, as is the push into network gear. What's the plan?
      Richard Flude
  • RE: HP: webOS hardware dead, PC business could be spun off

    love that Video!!! OMG cant stop laughing! I loved WEBos. I thought it was the most fluid tablet system on the market. The IpaD interface seemed fragmented while webos seemed well thought out. This is a bummer. Maybe i cant get me a touchpad at a greal deal now.
    derrickgivens
  • RE: HP: webOS hardware dead, PC business could be spun off

    Thanks. I needed that.
    rickexner
  • RE: HP: webOS hardware dead, PC business could be spun off

    HP is actually a company with another vision. I wouldnt buy HP hardware anymore, no matter what type of it. A software/service company? Hi, Leo, thats your simple vision, but again, Google is leaps ahead of you. Best luck!
    Juan_Pre
    • RE: HP: webOS hardware dead, PC business could be spun off

      AMEN to the hardware (and peripherals).
      TsarNikky
  • What is wrong is HP management team

    All of them should be fired.Without PC, HP is nothing. Their service section is no-show, printer market is also saturated.
    ZenithY
  • RE: HP: webOS hardware dead, PC business could be spun off

    Lot of people think iPad's success is due to clever marketing by Apple, but very few people think about its user experience. If someone is already using iPhone, they are good at iPad. And also the ecosystem that Apple has created. They just followed the Microsoft's secret sauce of encouraging the developers with plethora of tools. Eventually made XCode as a reliable and powerful tool to build iOS apps like Visual Studio does for Microsoft environment. Also Apple's control on the so called Walled Garden creates less head-ache for users even though it is a hurdle for developer. But actually that helps once the developer gets used to it, which rest of the ODMs and their respective Platform providers never realized.
    Ram U
  • Open Source It!

    I know this will never happen, and I'm not normally an OSS advocate, but I would love to see HP place WebOS under the GPL, BSD, or Apache-style license. It was/is a great OS and could give a lot of people a jump start on some amazing projects or really shake up the market with an iOS/Android alternative that is easily accessible. I would hate to see it go the way of BeOS or sold off to a company who will do nothing with it.
    Yensi717
  • Sell Compaq to the public

    And give them Palm and maybe even the printer business. This would free up HP to focus on the high end of the market and do what HP used to do best: invent new things (but please fix the tech support).

    Then consider doing the same thing to EDS.
    John L. Ries
  • RE: HP: webOS hardware dead, PC business could be spun off

    HP needs to spin off their PC peripherals division, along with their PC division. They have abandoned support for the former, who knows what they have done for the latter.

    HP is not going away -- just reincarnated in totally areas. So, personal consumers beware! What you now own could easily become "orphans." Business consumers take close notice and proceed accordingly.
    TsarNikky
  • Buh-Bye TouchPad. Get an iPad2 and be Magical

    Buh-bye TouchPad. We hardly knew ye.
    Listen--quit fooling around--buy yourself an iPad2 and start doing amazing and magical things.
    Oliver_Clozoff
  • RE: HP: webOS hardware dead, PC business could be spun off

    HP should have let Microsoft and Google worry about the OS. It would have saved them a lot of time and money. Besides with Apple, Google, and Microsoft each developing their own ecosystems. There's not really anymore room for a another player.
    kingscoop71