WebOS nearing the end of the road

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UPDATED: The end is reportedly nigh for webOS. According to a report by The Guardian, HP is set to kill off its webOS mobile operating system after receiving apparently no interest in the OS it bought from Palm for $1.2 billion.

Quoting inside sources, The Guardian said the webOS group expects to be closed down imminently, affecting 500 jobs. “There’s a 95 percent chance we all get laid off between now and November, and I for one am thinking it’s for the best,” one webOS employee was quoted as saying.

HP had been trying to find a buyer or someone to license the operating system after announcing it was not going to put out anymore webOS hardware. But it has yet to announce any deals though there was speculation that HTC or Amazon might want to buy the operating system. On the most recent earnings call, HP’s new CEO Meg Whitman reversed the company’s move to spin off its PC business, but said the decision on webOS was still a couple of months away. Whitman talked up the potential of using Windows 8 for tablets instead of webOS, which appeared on HP’s TouchPad earlier this year.

We’ll have to wait until the final announcement is made on webOS. But if HP can’t find a buyer, it might be hard to justify keeping the webOS group going. The company said recently that it was still looking at using webOS for printers but it may just give up on the whole venture and write it off.

It’s a shame because webOS was a solid operating system. But perhaps that was its weakness. It was good but didn’t stand out enough in the market. And HP didn’t seem to support it enough. I still remember when I first saw webOS at CES and really thought Palm had a chance with it. It didn’t work out. It’s a sign of how fast things move in this industry.

UPDATE: Tony Prophet, SVP of operations for HP’s PC division told GigaOM today the WebOS discussion is on-going. “It’s a similar process to the one we did with the PC business, and the WebOS is being thoroughly, evaluated including the software and product facets: the whole thing.” So we have to see what Meg and the HP decide finally.

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