HP Killing WebOS Phones And Tablets; May Spin Off PC Business

If you thought Google buying Motorola Mobility was a bombshell to end all bombshells, have a look at this. HP just announced their most recent earnings, but that's hardly the buzz. In a rather camouflaged way, HP just made a couple of huge, huge announcements that will no doubt leave a lasting impression on the technology universe. For starters, they confirmed that discussions are ongoing with Autonomy Corporation plc regarding a possible business combination -- a combination that involves an offer. HP also reported that it plans to announce that its board of directors has authorized the exploration of strategic alternatives for its Personal Systems Group (PSG). HP will consider a broad range of options that may include, among others, a full or partial separation of PSG from HP through a spin-off or other transaction.

That's right; the PC business of HP may actually be spun-off. We saw something similar happens years back with IBM. The company once famous for producing ThinkPad laptops handed that duty over to Lenovo, and then focused on becoming an enterprise services business. That seemed to work out well for them, but HP? Hard to say. In addition, HP reported that it plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones. That's a major hit in the consumer space. For all intents and purposes, webOS is officially dead, and what was left of Palm is as well. It's a sad story, truth be told. The Pre had such amazing potential, and webOS remains a stellar mobile operating system with no push behind it and hardly any developer support. And that kind of setup usually leads to demise.

There's still a sliver of hope left for HP's webOS platform; in the past, the company spoke of licensing it out to other companies for use on devices not actually branded by HP. According to the releases, they'll continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward. That sounds rather half-hearted, honestly, and we can't really say we're holding out much hope for any other company to adopt an operating system that is being ditched by a company that just purchased it a few months back. On the other hand, your existing webOS device just got a lot more valuable from a collectible standpoint, and that impending Pre 3 should prove to be a hard find.

According to Bloomberg and other reports, HP is drawing very close to a $10 billion deal with Autonomy, which would expand their software business dramatically. On the flip side, it's likely that the personal computer business would be spun-off entirely. Reportedly, this is more of a cloud play for new CEO Leo Apotheker By ditching hardware and focusing on software + services, there's a ton of overhead that's being thrown away, and HP's heading right for "what's next." Possibly a sound plan by the numbers, but boy, is this a weird and sad day for consumers.
Tags:  laptop, Desktop, tablet, webOS