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Hewlett-Packard gives up on webOS

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Well, that was quick. Just months after introducing what looked to be one of the most promising challengers to the iPad(s aapl), Hewlett-Packard (s hpq) said it is getting out of the webOS business and discontinuing its Touchpad and webOS phones. The company is now looking to “optimize” the value of webOS, which could mean a sale of the operating system, licensing it to other manufacturers or just very specific uses of the platform in devices like printers.

It’s a big turnaround for HP, which also announced that it was looking at spinning off its huge PC business. It sounds like HP is in search of profitability and has lost patience with webOS. It’s a shame because I and many others have also been enamored with the platform, which just never seemed to get enough support. Now, it appears HP will sit on webOS and see what it wants to do next.

Just recently, HP was reportedly open to licensing the platform. There was hope that it might, with the right momentum, become a possible third-place challenger in the mobile wars. But the webOS phones haven’t caught on, and the TouchPad has gone through a number of price drops, which hasn’t instilled much confidence and suggested sales were meager.

It sounds like this is part of a bigger movement by HP to just distance itself from devices, not unlike what Cisco did with its Flip cameras. Cisco (s csco)bought up Pure Digital Technologies’ Flip business only to kill it when it didn’t fit into its more back-to-basics focus. HP still gets value out of its $1.2 billion purchase of webOS maker Palm in the form of mobile patents, which are now worth a premium these days. But it’s a shame that webOS does not seem like it will be given a chance to be a contender in the mobile market.

12 Responses to “Hewlett-Packard gives up on webOS”

  1. It’s really only a matter of time before the open source community ports Android to this (now dead) tablet. If you can get a hold of one, you’re basically getting your hands on a really cheap, soon-to-be android tablet.

  2. Tally Rand

    Ha ha ha, who let the dogs out? When is Roger McNamee going to formally apologize for his idiotic statements a few years ago saying that iPhone users were going to ditch the iPhone for the Pre?

  3. @jay “unfortunate for HP their R&D is weak when compared to IBM”

    Thanks to their 2006 Mercury purchase they have kind of robust and of a good quality (not Bangalore based ) RnD focusing on all kinds of applications,from end user and CMDB to cloud and automation. IBM aren’t just there,they’re somewhere between mainframes and MQs…

  4. HP as a hardware vendor probably thought it had a good chance with matching its talents with the excellent WebOS software but the problem that I’m sure they’ve now realized is that as new technology platforms mature the continued success of the platform switch from being about how good the software or hardware is to how good the ecosystem it exists in is.

    We now have 3 companies that have fully fleshed ecosystems Apple, Google and Microsoft – maybe if Amazon had bought WebOS it could have stood a better chance?

  5. Lindsworth Horatio Deer

    Poor marketing and non-existent R&D. Not to mention a lack of Developer support for the WebOS platform. Poor execution of plan and a lack of patience to make the OS gradually develope in a sprint not a marathon as Rubenstein had said. I guess analyst Gartner was correct: it’s Nokia + Microsoft then for Number 2 spot behind Google in 2015AD.

    HP money does not come overnight. But to abandon the ENTIRE PC division suggests something else…..that Apple and their iPad and Android Tablets are taking away the PC’s lunch. we may truly be looking at the inklings of a “Post-PC era” to quote Apple CEO Steve Jobs!!!

  6. As predicted webOS/Touchpad was DOA. Looks like HP is trying to clone IBM now (enterprise hardware/software/support), but unfortunate for HP their R&D is weak when compared to IBM and their management is incompetent.