HP Keeps Us (And Meg Whitman) Guessing: Still Undecided On WebOS Fate

HP (NYSE: HPQ) may have a strategy in mind for what to do next with webOS, its operating-system-in-search-of-a-device, but today was not the day to hear it. The company earlier called an all-hands meeting, only to tell staff that it still didn’t have a final plan, and probably wouldn’t for another three or four weeks.

According to The Verge, which earlier broke the news that a meeting was taking place today, HP’s CEO Meg Whitman seemed to be as up in the air as ever about the fate of the platform. (We have contacted HP directly to confirm this point, and will update this as we learn more.)

Judging from the account on the blog, Whitman sounded like she reverted once again to the line she took in that first conference call she hosted after her appointment as CEO of HP: “It’s really important to me to make the right decision, not the fast decision,” she said.

Why HP decided to call a meeting to tell its staff essentially nothing new seems a bit strange. It may have been the case that HP was expecting for there to be more to announce, but that something fell through or hadn’t yet been decided.

Yesterday there was a report citing several sources indicating that HP was on the verge of selling the platform. A number of names have been floated as would-be buyers, from handset makers like RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) and HTC to social network Facebook and retail behemoth Amazon. The new name that came up in yesterday’s reports was Oracle — which, like Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN), has an HP alum in a senior position, HP’s former CEO Mark Hurd, who is now president of Oracle. It would be fair to say that webOS could go in a number of different directions, depending on who ended up closing that deal.

Something that should not be overlooked is that HP might just end up keeping webOS, perhaps even revisiting how it might use it in its own devices. The Verge report seemed to hint at this as a possibility that HP might actively choose — or be forced to follow if it doesn’t find a buyer: “If HP decides to do this [to keep webOS], we’re going to do it in a very significant way over a multi year period,” said Whitman according to the report.

The fate of webOS has been hanging in the air for months already — HP discontinued its device business in August but has not given clear direction about what it plans to do with the OS that powered the devices.