After a disastrous wireless turn from HP (NYSE: HPQ) that culminated last week with HP taking a charge of $1.66 billion to wind down its webOS mobile platform operation, HP’s CEO, Meg Whitman, has finally put a date on when the company will announce the fate of webOS: in the next two weeks.
That is according to an interview that she has given to the French newspaper Le Figaro (via TNW), in which she also notes that there are about 600 people left working in webOS, which further complicates its fate.
WebOS has been hanging in the air for months now, after HP abruptly announced this summer that it would discontinue making smartphones and other devices using the OS — just weeks after it had launched its first tablet, the TouchPad.
Since then, there have been rumors of potential buyers (including Amazon and Oracle); and even the thought that HP might hang on to the OS itself. After all, it already made one spectacular u-turn when it decided to hold on to its PC business, after former CEO Leo Apotheker had said the plan was to get rid of it.
Last month, it looked like HP was finally ready to spill the beans on what would happen with the platform business — with Whitman calling an all-hands meeting with staff in the division — but ultimately there was no news. Either that, or whatever news she hoped to deliver still hadn’t been finalized, because nothing came of that meeting.
The webOS platform held a lot of promise when it was first unveiled by Palm (which HP bought only last April for $1.2 billion). Its many supporters believed it provided an effective and engaging counterbalance to the trailblazing power that Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and Google (NSDQ: GOOG) wield in the world of smarpthones and tablets. But today, with an almost negligible market share, it will take a lot of enterprise, attention, and investment if anyone hopes to get webOS up to speed again.