HP Kills TouchPad & webOS Devices, Will Spin Off PCs

| News

R.I.P. TouchPadHP dropped a bombshell or three Wednesday: The company said it is killing off its TouchPad tablet and all other webOS devices (like smartphones), and the company is looking to spin off its PC business, too, a business that currently contributes almost a third of its revenue. The company intends to keep the software side of its webOS business.

The move comes just 16 months after HP bought Palm and its webOS mobile operating system. The move was seen as an attempt by HP to try the whole widget business model employed so successfully by Apple. HP dedicated significant resources to the further development of webOS and devices that used it.

Those devices included smartphones that continued the Palm product line, as well as a much-anticipated iPad competitor called the TouchPad. It was also supposed to eventually includes personal computers, and maybe even an expansion into home appliances and and automotive uses, which may be why the company is planning to keep the software side of webOS.

The TouchPad, however, was the device that had garnered the most attention, and that was largely because of the incredible success of the iPad. The webOS effort was headed by former Apple executive Jon Rubinstein, and the company was delivering a whole widget tablet that was quickly dubbed an iPad killer (before it was actually launched).

That launch was greeted as a major disappointment, however, and this week Best Buy was reportedly sitting on a mountain of the devices that it couldn’t sell and wanted to return. In the meanwhile, Mr. Rubinstein was moved to another area of HP in July, and a new guy was put in place to head the webOS group.

That was just a month ago, but it was apparently enough time for HP to decide there was no future in making whole widget tablets and smartphones, and so endeth Palm in an ignominious sputter.

The other big news from the company is that it looking for options on its Personal Systems Group (PSG), the division that makes personal computers. The official line is that, “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 means the company could spin it off to its own business or that it could sell that business to another company. In the most recently completed quarter the PSG accounted for US$9.4 billion in revenue, out of the $31.12 in total revenue.

What would be left of HP is a very profitable printer business, as well as the company’s enormously successful enterprise operations. To that end, HP also announced it was in discussions with enterprise software firm Autonomy to acquire that company, signalling that HP sees its future in enterprise, not consumer devices.

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30 Comments Leave Your Own

aardman

Apotheker turning HP into an SAP clone?

Bitter medicine from the apothecary, eh?

Lee Dronick

Bitter medicine from the apothecary, eh?

“O true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.”

mhikl

it’s iPod all over again . . .

So said a great yogi once before.

ibuck

It’s amazing how analysts or reporters can call something an iPad killer, or iPhone killer, etc, before it has achieved real sales success to end users?who don’t return the device in droves. Why don’t these hype-sters wear their fraudulent prognostications around their neck like an albatross? Or even be forced to find another occupation?

Have we become a society that rarely holds anyone’s feet to the fire?

webjprgm

Wow. Now what do I recommend to the lay person who wants a Windoze PC?  HP was pretty much the last PC brand I liked.

Dislike Dell, never developed trust in Toshiba, Lenovo, Acer. Don’t really like the appearance of IBM ThinkPad, no reason to trust Sony either.  Plus most of the time if someone wants a laptop I push much harder towards a Mac since non-Apple laptops seem to fall apart too much, and if I still can’t convince them to get a Mac, then I suggest HP with a support plan.  For a desktop, I suggest PCs only when someone wants absolutely dirt cheep, and I point towards HP generally or whatever else looks comparable e.g. Lenovo.  If the person is willing to switch to Mac I’d point to MacMini, or if the person has a higher budget I’d point to Mac desktops.  But usually this is grandma and college students asking, so not super high budgets.  (And people who are nerdy enough to care about good hardware don’t ask me, they show me what they just bought.)

Though I guess HP PCs aren’t going away, just changing ownership somehow.

As for TouchPad, epic fail, not unexpected, but so sad for Palm and I really did hope there’d be some good competition out there for the iPad.

mhikl

What strength those heavy pockets is our Apple made.
Off to the knackers goes fair HP with haste.
And from what oven a feast arose.
Why, a roast of crow, so it goes.

Shakey could do better but this about sums up this good news for the day.

makuribu

It’s a SAAB, SAAB story.

Shut ‘er down, Scotty, she’s suckin’ mud!

Jamie

Would these other options they’ve mentioned involve selling to Google, perchance? wink Sorry, couldn’t help myself. . . . wink

OldMorris

Wonder if the tablets and phones go with the spin-off of the pc division. helps to re-read the article. Wonder if WebOS will ever really compete? Just keeps missing the boat. Too bad for the palm hardware people.

vpndev

I guess the fact that TouchPad runs webOS is why we’ve not heard from Bosco

vpndev

I wonder how much of this whole scenario is attributable to Carly Fiorina’s tenure as CEO? Certainly some of it, maybe most of it. Anyone have details?

geoduck

I’m absolutely gobsmacked. Never saw this coming.

webjprgm: Agreed. Anymore I don’t know what to recommend to people that want to buy a Windows system.

Other than therapy that is.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@vpndev: Carly Fiorina left HP on February 10, 2005. Clearly, this debacle was all her fault. smh.

The reaction to this is funny, to say the least. Back at the beginning of the year, the consensus here was that HP with its ouchPad was a worthy contender to the iPad, while rumored Honeycomb tablets were pretenders at best. ouchPad was worthy specifically because it was a whole widget tablet, thus validating the necessity of Apple being a neurotic control freak with the iOS platform. I think we can now dispatch with the whole widget model being a sufficient condition for success. On to necessary…

John Martellaro

geoduck:  my recommendation:  MacBook + Parallels + Windows 7.

Nemo

HP’s spinning off its personal computer business, as IBM did several years ago, is proof positive of just what a losing proposition it is to make fungible hardware that runs someone else’s licensed operating system.  You end up competing on lowest costs of production and price to sell a fungible piece of hardware.  IBM learned this lesson years ago.  Now, it is the Android OEMs who are learning it and who will continue to learn it, assuming, of course, that Android survives its many infringement suits.  However, the Android OEMs have a worst problem:  They are now in direct competition with the licensor, Google, of the Android OS, which they so depend upon to make their Android devices, and that is something that Microsoft never inflicted on its Windows licensees.

To succeed against Apple, someone will not only need to create the whole widget, they must, as Apple has, innovate the software and hardware with useful and occasionally revolutionary innovations and elegantly integrate that software and hardware to create and exceptional user’s experience.  And in addition, and this is where HP particularly failed, any would be competitor much now overcome Apple’s advantage in consumers’ minds as being the standard for excellence in every aspect of a computing device for consumers, and to do that will take a revolutionary innovation that is flawlessly executed in every aspect of making, marketing, providing service for, and distributing a computing device. 

At present, no one has been able to able to do any of the foregoing.  Those who have come closest but only in smartphones are some Android OEMs, but it is beginning to appear that they have done it not by innovating but by infringing on Apple and others’ IP, which is something that the courts may put an end to in the not too distant future.

xmattingly

So what—no more HP-branded iPod Classics??!!??

mhikl

On every trip there is a point of no return. Well, you could try to return but the costs might be beyond the weight of your wallet or the life of the tires. The same goes for the Apple Hater. If it has just been a cool ride with people he finds more intelligent and interesting than the wazzocks who frequent the Android sites*, then it?s time to put the kibosh on that trip. There have been giggles, there have been ires raised. But all can be put aside and laugh can be had by all. But the point of no return is approaching. There is only so much up with which intelligent and interesting people will put. Look deep and look carefully. Walking the pits and the ferret does not make for a great TMO experience. The arguments are going way past clever, crafty or even slightly pertaining. The tires are wearing out, the gas is nearing empty while ludicrousness is raising its head above bumper height. Ouch.

* been there, seen them, not a pretty group, wazzocks is being gracious

Looking desperate, looking miserable. There is nothing pretty about the last moments in the death throes.

skipaq

I was hopeful that HP would be able to develop webOS and a product worthy of their brand. Had nothing to do with the whole widget debate; just a desire for someone to compete without ripping off the work of others. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Samsung take up the challenge perhaps with Bada or Microsoft’s mobile OS.

geoduck

geoduck:? my recommendation:? MacBook + Parallels + Windows 7.

Well, a virtual machine IS what I run…

OT
Actually I prefer Oracle’s VirtualBox because, well, it’s free. I think TMO should compare the VM programs, Parellels, VirtualBox, and VMWare Fusion. Really, are the other two worth $80 more that VirtualBox? VB seems to do everything I want.
/OT

mhikl

Succinct, Nemo.

Many hoped that HP would offer Apple a challenge. Android users we know can’t or at least, don’t have the time to supplant its ill-gotten with innovation and the courts very likely will encumber Google’s dream. Maybe MicroSoft will succeed in its challenge; many believe the final Zune was a worthy competitor, or at least the product was worthy.

Time is running out. Every next year is just more steps behind. We’re talking, exponential.

Hagen

Given the way the rest of the market has been moving, I’m willing to place an even bet that HP’s PC division could be bought by Intel.

It’s about the only industry move at this point that hasn’t been tried.

mhikl

. . . an even bet that HP?s PC division could be bought by Intel.  It?s about the only industry move at this point that hasn?t been tried.

Ha ha! Clever!

Paul Goodwin

TMO I sure wish you would fix this forum so that it would work reliably with an iPhone. Posting comments is torture. I just lost a long post after hitting “Submit”... again.

RonMacGuy

Have we become a society that rarely holds anyone?s feet to the fire?

I am trying to hold someone’s feet to the fire, but he is ignoring me!!

grin

“Of all base passions, fear is the most accursed.” William Shakespeare

aardman

What a week this has been for Apple fans, Apple haters, and the tech industry, eh?

mhikl

I am trying to hold someone?s feet to the fire, but he is ignoring me!!

Me too, Ron.

We are indeed blessed.

BurmaYank

Paul Goodwin: “TMO I sure wish you would fix this forum so that it would work reliably with an iPhone. Posting comments is torture. I just lost a long post after hitting ?Submit?... again.”

Yeah, the TMO-commenting bug is a pain on the iPhone, also!

But (again) thank you, TMO, for almost fixing your comment-quoting bug, (which still didn?t correctly ascribe this quote to its author, ?Paul Goodwin? - I had to cut/paste that in, again).

So, please, TMO keep hanging in there in your troubleshooting efforts. (And thank you, again, in advance for fixing all this!)

Paul Goodwin

Test test test test test test test test

BurmaYank

Test test test test test test test test

...and this is also a Mac OS X test of your comment-quoting bug fixing efforts (so far, TMO, you are still FAILING)

BurmaYank:
“So, please, TMO, keep hanging in there in your troubleshooting efforts.” (I still had to cut/paste this quote’s author “BurmaYank:” into to it, again).

Paul Goodwin

Hint for iPhone users

On an iPhone, typing in the text box is OK when you shrink the text box to within the screen boundary. When the text box is larger than the screen, it takes seconds per character.

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