Wow, this took me completely surprise: mere minutes after confirming that they were in talks to spin off their PC business, HP has totally thrown in the towel on their mobile strategy. They’ve just announced that they are shutting down their WebOS Device business.
Unreal. That’s just a month and a half after releasing the HP Touchpad, which was supposed to relaunch webOS as a serious contender to Apple’s mobile OS crown. Now HP’s just killing off that side of the business in total.
HP says that it will “discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones.”
HP’s going to suffer a big reputation hit here: they just released the Touchpad, promising ongoing support, and now they’re killing it off after just a month. Then again, there may not be all that many Touchpad customers to actually disappont. And HP may not care about the reputation hit, since it seems fairly obvious they are aiming to leave the consumer PC space entirely.
Even if you love your iPad, this is disappointing news, to say the least. The Touchpad was rough, but webOS has more promise than any other platform short of iOS out there, and while it’s easy to be hubristic about this as an Apple fan, Apple needs strong competition to remain on top. Right now, Android’s not providing that competition, at least in the tablet game, and HP’s just giving up.
The sunny side here is that HP still intends on exploring opportunities with webOS. That probably means licensing webOS to other companies, or possibly selling it to a competitor. I wonder if Samsung – bit hard by Google purchase of Motorola on Monday for $12.5 billion – will end up making an offer. It’s certainly a much stronger operating system than Bing, and it’s already tablet ready.