HP’s decision to keep its PC group after announcing plans a month ago to get a divorce has no impact on the fate of WebOS, but new CEO Meg Whitman left no doubt Thursday that HP (NYSE: HPQ) is going to give up on tablets entirely. It’s just running back into the arms of an old friend.
“I think we need to be in the tablet business, and we’re certainly going to be there with Windows 8,” Whitman said during a conference call held to explain why HP reversed its thinking about its PC group, a decision that cost former CEO Leo Apotheker his job. HP sells a tablet device running Windows 7, but that operating system was not designed for mobility and is not even in the discussion when it comes to the modern tablet market.
Windows 8 will be a much more mobile-friendly piece of software, and many of the traditional PC makers will likely jump on board to ship tablets featuring the Metro interface. HP had not explicitly declared a plan to embrace Windows 8 tablets, but Whitman seems to have felt a need to address criticism that HP was poised to sit out the mobile computing revolution entirely if it were to cancel the Touchpad and put the WebOS group into some sort of limbo.
Whitman said that a decision about WebOS one way or another would be coming in a few months. Just this week, Richard Kerris, the lead developer evangelist for WebOS, left HP and has now taken a job with Nokia (NYSE: NOK) in a similar capacity.