HP Kills Off webOS Tablet And Smartphone Business After Atrocious TouchPad Sales Fail To Dent iPad

HP Kills Off webOS Tablet And Smartphone Business After Atrocious TouchPad Sales Fail To Dent iPad

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.

  • ella

    I bet Best Buy is fuming right about now. 

  • martinberoiz

    I didn’t know Bing was an operating system.

  • Richard Goetz

    surprising but gutsy. i admire how they put so much effort into a product that can actually teach the iPad a lesson or two (multi tasking, flash, touch-to-sync).

    then again, i admire this move as well because it’s an admittance that the iPad is currently the dominant force and they do the clever thing of putting everything they have into a really good product and if that doesn’t catch on … what else are they supposed to do? instead of making more mediocre tablets and trying to sell them they leave it to the others. that i like.

    i think that sooner or later people will care for more variety in the tablet market. right now the iPad is still something like the new kid on the block and it’s defined a category of gadgets. maybe we’ll see webOS again in the future … i sure hope so. this was the only serious competition to the iPad and iOS imho.

  • BrianVoll

    Hoping to catch some great sales with the TouchPad. Maybe pick one up sub-$200 :P

  • imajoebob

    Stupid, stupid, stupid!!  Just the opposite of what they should have done.  Hey, HP; it’s called “investing in your future.”  And your future was in WebOS.  Apple is already making the move to a lightweight operating system and giving OS X the big dirt nap, and you have the only viable alternative for PCs (Android is an ungodly mess – businesses need standards).

    Maybe they’ll just become the new Microsoft and license the bejeezus out of WebOS to all the other PC and tablet manufacturers?

  • Deocliciano Okssipin Vieira

    What kind of business people are leading HP?

    Wow!?
    Didn’t they saw this coming?

    How many people will be without job?

    …………………licensing webOS to other companies ………………
    Bad, bad business.

    Apple is growing because of careful planing, not licencing.
    Licensing kills innovation urge.
    Look at German economy.

  • Tallest_Skil

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

  • totushi

    same here XD lol i like webOS (I’m a huge apple fan) but still webOS it’s quite good! also i want the hp veer anyone knows if the prices are going to drop on the phones?

  • ella

    I read yesterday that they might be bundling them with their PCs for a back-to-school promo. Imagine the sales nightmare now. We’re bundling this dead tablet with a dead PC. 

    I think you’ll get it sub-$50. 

  • KeiFeR123

    Let see… Carly Fiorina (1999-2008) fucked up HP by merging with Compaq, got 20 million in compensation…cited as 20 worst American CEO of all time.
    Mark Hurd (2008-2010) fucked up HP by acquiring Palm in 2010 for 1.2 billion.  Fired for sexual harassment. Got close to 34 million dollars compensation.

    But guess what? as of 2010, they have 124 billion dollars in asset. Wow….

  • GDal

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    Damn it! I can’t stop!!

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  • GDal

    Carly’s Legacy! Killed a damned great company. The death is slow, but the poison has been administered.

  • GDal

    $50 and I’ll buy.

  • GDal

    What happened to all those fans who were going to buy them?

  • imajoebob

    I agree that the Apple model for WebOS is the way to go (see my comment on the previous post).  But if they want to get a return on their investment without actually selling tablets, they’ll have to let others do it for them.

  • jeanlouisnguyen

    1 device, 1 company. Get used to it. Sad for HP, though I still use an HP calculator.

  • imajoebob

    Buying Palm was the only smart thing he did.  Think how dominant a WebOS ecosystem could have been in businesses, from Servers to desktops to laptops to tablets to phones.  They could have left Apple in the dust if they actually committed to WebOS.

  • SbMobile

    I guess Best Buy wanting all of HP’s tablet inventory pulled really hurt their plans?! Retail killed this idea. Plus, none of the tech/mobile companies have invested in retail like Apple. 

  • ella

    Its truly hilarious to watch the anti-Apple PC fan boys going crazy over on PCWorld and Ars. At some point they might have to admit their model sucks. 

  • Cold_dead_fingers

    This is horrible. I’m so disappointed in HP. I know Palm would have been dead if it wasn’t for HP buying them but to see the talent just utterly wasted for, what, a little over a year? HP fucked up BIG time.

  • Cold_dead_fingers

    Bada?

  • AshleeNicole09010

    I just p a i d $21.87 for an i P a d 2-64GB and my boyfriend loves his Panasonîc Lumîx GF 1 Camera that we got for $38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS.I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62.81 to buy.
    Here is the website we use to get it all from,http://bit.ly/AuctionPenny

  • EthanVerty
  • imajoebob

    Mr Apotheker? There’s someone from the Harvard Business Review on the phone.  Wants to confirm the spelling of your last name.

  • Michael De

    A shame. webOS is much nicer than iOS.

  • ThomasF

    Hah. Does that make the HP TouchPad more valuable as a collectible?

  • Jaison Green

    Wait… no one told HP that the “Web” wasn’t an OS? Anyone?

  • Mike Rathjen

    That’s too bad. iOS is really dated and it could benefit from decent competition.

    As it stands now, only the 14 people that actually bought a TouchPad know that it has some really nice things about its user interface.

    It would be a little ironic if Apple licensed WebOS in order to include its UI improvements without patent/copyright/lawsuit issues.

  • GDal

    A 4 year old OS, in it’s fourth version? How is that dated?

  • GDal

    Palm was great back before they entered the phone market. I loved the Pilot, HandSpring, Clie, etc devices I had. When they said they were going to use Windows Mobile, I almost died. Then HP… Ugh.

  • Jeff Schueler

    Its pathetic to walk into Best Buy and see inferior tablet computers gathering dust on the end caps. 

    The iPad is the clear and proven superior product.

  • ShaunaJames

    I just paíd $20.87 for an íPad 2.64GB and my boyfriend loves his Panasoníc Lumíx GF 1 Camera that we got for $38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UP S.I will never pay such expensive retail príces in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LCD T V to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62.81 to buy.
    Here is the website we use to get it all from, bit.ly/BidShop

  • Mike Rathjen

    Don’t get me wrong, iPad is the best tablet out there. But there is a lot of room for improvement in the UI.

    If you watch videos of WebOS or Windows 8 tablet in operation, you’ll see what I mean. Certain aspects of iOS are awkward in comparison, and it would be nice to see improvements along those lines.

  • imajoebob

    I’m more Fanboy than anything – except for Palm.  I was waiting for the “real” version of this, with fully WebOS, not the premature beta of the Tablet.  Why didn’t they hold it for testing and aim for the Xmas release?  HP really blew this, and without any reasonable explanation.  

  • Peter Moeser

    …”while it’s easy to be hubristic about this as an Apple fan, Apple needs strong competition to remain on top.”
    What a load of baloney. I think this is the third or fourth time you’ve written this John. Do you have it in your TextExpander?

  • Sydney Tsai

    I remember HP, they release certain model of all-in-one pc in like 2008. And guess what? they discounted supporting it after two years, due to high rate of N-brand display chip failure… How lame is that? I already black-list HP Acer Dell when I was asked for recommendation…

  • lals83
  • lals83
  • AshleeNicole09044

    I just p a i d $21.87 for an i P a d 2-64GB and my boyfriend loves his Panasonîc Lumîx GF 1 Camera that we got for $38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS.I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62.81 to buy.
    Here is the website we use to get it all from,http://to.ly/aXHh

  • GDal

    Problem isn’t HP here. Palm made a mess of things a long time ago, unfortunately. They had the best mobile OS in Palm 5 etc, but no way to leverage it for phones, video, etc. They bought BeOS a long time ago and sat on it, then dropped everything to use Windows Mobile (WTF?!?). Then decided to do WebOS, but… What did they really do?

    Despite the history of PalmOS and its small efficient heritage, and ownership of BeOS, which I would have loved to use, it seems HP just made visual improvements rather than focussing on functionality. Then again, HP and functionality don’t really go hand in hand. HP/UX anyone?

    A shame to see PalmOS/WebOS finally die, but my last Palm device was back 8 years ago. I miss my Clie and Targus folding keyboard. I replaced my laptop with that for a while.

  • GDal

    What improvements would you make. Functional ones, not eye candy.

  • GDal

    Where have you actually used WebOS?

  • GDal

    Have you used WebOS?

  • Tallest_Skil

    A collectable that no one collected?

    Yeah, that’s REAL valuable…

  • lals83
  • lsla5577
  • TastySlowCooker

    I think everyone is misinterpreting the announcement HP made today.

    Since HP bought Palm, they’ve simply been funding the Palm strategy. But the Palm strategy wasn’t working before the acquisition, and there was nothing inherent in the strategy to lead me to believe that throwing money (or pressure in the form of business targets) was going to turn that around.

    So I’m guessing that *funding the current webOS projects (i.e. TouchPad, Pre 3, Veer) while otherwise leaving the Palm department and webOS alone* was part of the deal Rubinstein struck with Apotheker, and today was the deadline. HP factored the losses associated with continuing the Palm strategy into the cost of buying the company, and now that it’s over they can do with webOS what they wanted to do from the beginning.

    I think it’s pretty naive to come to the conclusion that the executives that run the largest companies in the world are idiots. Before coming to that conclusion, it’s probably a good idea to try to see if there is another explanation. And I think that in this instance, it’s totally possible to give HP the benefit of the doubt that they have been doing what is in their long-term best interests. They were given an opportunity to buy a pretty decent mobile operating system and a whole lot of talented people in April last year, but it almost certainly came with strings, and now that those strings have frayed beyond recognition, they can get on with implementing webOS the way they want to.

    Don’t think HP is done with webOS. Now is when things really start to get interesting.

  • Junaidkureshi

    huhuhaha huhu haha huhu haha hu huhahahhuhuhuahahahahuhuhuhahhahahahuhuhuhahahaha

    LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

  • Junaidkureshi

    I feel sorry for all touchpad owner, you can rub this plastic piece of shit on your ass

  • lsla44
  • gareth edwards

    Sad news indeed.

    SO – the big question – who’s going to buy this tech then?

  • Flyers Printing

    The touchpad has been rough, but webOS is more promising than any other operating system IOS short there, and although it is easy to be arrogant about this as a fan of Apple, Apple needs a strong competitive position to remain on top. 

  • Guest

    I agree I have both the Ipad and the Touchpad.  WebOS is a much better OS!  Examples are the multitasking, email, integration with Pre, ability to use it functionally without Itunes for media, photos sync. I never would have gone outside of apple ecosystem had it not been for the firesale price.  It has opened my world outside of Apple and there are much better products out there.

  • fanboy

    I just got my hands on discontinued touchpad 64g and I must say that as far as HW and the core OS is concerned, iPad seems more like a POS. So, stop being an arrogant prick an don’t mix the HP’s new ceo incompetence and their marketing strategy failure with the product itself.

    sent from my Touchpad :-)

  • fanboy

    I just got my hands on discontinued touchpad 64g and I must say that as far as HW and the core OS is concerned, iPad seems more like a POS. So, stop being an arrogant prick an don’t mix the HP’s new ceo incompetence and their marketing strategy failure with the product itself.

    sent from my Touchpad :-)

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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