This can hardly be believed but it’s actually true and not some cruel joke. Having only just released the first WebOS tablet after having purchased Palm last year, and having spent the last year talking up their new mobile operating system as the next big thing, which frankly it had a very good chance of becoming, HP has announced that it’s killing off WebOS devices for good.
To make matters even more confusing the company, according to Bloomberg and reported by tech blogger Paul Thurrott, plans to sell off it’s PC business, the biggest PC making business in the world that is, and move solely into servers for the future.
This is almost not funny and is really difficult to believe. HP is the world’s biggest PC maker though they obviously now feel that the profit margins just aren’t enough for them. To kill off such a promising mobile and tablet operating system that’s had such great reviews seems like crimes against technology.
In a press release the company today said…
…plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones. HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward.
The only good news here is that, presumably, the company will be looking for a buyer for WebOS. I can’t help but wonder though what company will be interested in a mobile OS that’s already been with two owners in the last year and half when competing companies including Nokia have killed off their own mobile operating systems?
In the press release the company went on to detail all manner of financial figures that will be it’s justification for getting out of the smartphone, mobile computing and PC business for good.
The last company to make such a bold move was IBM, though for them this wasn’t unexpected. The company also moved exclusively into servers and now has a greater annual revenue than Microsoft (again!)
This is sad news for WebOS fans however and fans of HP’s personal computers. The company has brought out the most interesting and innovative all-in-one and touchscreen PCs for the last few years, beating rivals including Sony with award-winning hardware and great touch-interface software. The acquisition of Palm, and with it the WebOS operating system seemed like a great fit for a company with big plans to move further into these areas and I for one have been looking forward to the launch of the first WebOS tablet for well over a year.
Questions now remain, not only over which company will be brave enough to take on WebOS, but which company will buy HPs enormous PC business. Chinese firm Lenovo bought IBM’s laptop division and has flourished ever since. It’s unlikely that one of the big PC builders currently, including Dell and ASUS, would have the cash to buy-in to this business. It seems likely then that venture capitalists will see the opportunity to buy an established and already highly successful business.
Currently, HP holds 18 percent of the worldwide PC market with Dell coming up second on 11 percent. In the USA, HP’s grip on the PC market is even bigger with a massive 26 percent of the country’s new computers carrying the company’s branding.
There will no doubt be continuity of support and warranties with all HP computers so anyone who is thinking of buying, or who has just bought an HP computer shouldn’t be concerned. Recent purchasers of the new WebOS tablet and smartphones though could be facing a future where support and updates are uncertain. We’ll bring you updates as they are announced here at gHacks.