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HP Making Major Changes To WebOS, Selling PC Business

Hardware

Published on 18 August 2011 04:10 PM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware
10 Comments

With Hewlett Packard's Q3'2011 earnings that were just released, they have just revealed a couple major news items. HP has confirmed the news that began spreading this morning that they are looking to sell or spin off its personal computer business. They also confirmed they are looking to buy Autonomy Corporation. The surprise news, however, is that HP will be discontinuing operations for webOS devices such as the TouchPad and Pre smart-phone.

Hewlett Packard also reduced its fiscal year estimates while its quarterly results were roughly in line with expectations. However, due to the other major news coming out today from this computing giant, its stock is dropping quite a bit. While the US markets are getting badly hammered today (the DJIA is off 4% and the energy sector is off about 5%), it's looking like Hewlett Packard is about to close down around 6% on today's news.

From the press release issued today by HP, here's the key bits:
HP today commented on the recent announcement by Autonomy Corporation plc (LSE: AU.L). HP confirms that it is in discussions with Autonomy regarding a possible offer for the company.

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.

In addition, HP reported that it 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.

It's a surprise that HP is looking to exit the PC business, but more of a shock is that they are going to cease operations for webOS devices. HP just acquired Palm last year for webOS and its device business and has laid out plans to push webOS to its printers and many other devices.

HP didn't say they will stop supporting and developing webOS, but details are still being gathered. Based upon the announcement they are also looking to exit the PC hardware business while at the same time looking to make a very large software acquisition (Autonomy), perhaps Hewlett Packard will be attempting to transform itself into a software powerhouse.

Just this morning at LinuxCon 2011 North America there was Phil Robb, the Director of the Open Source Program Office at HP, praising webOS and the TouchPad. He also talked of GNU GPLv3 packages for webOS and didn't rule out the possibility of webOS being licensed to other hardware vendors.

Based upon what I know right now, I would anticipate HP still maintaining webOS and attempting to license it to other hardware vendors so it can just focus on software development and other interests. The webOS stack isn't fully open, but in my professional opinion, it's more open than Apple iOS (obviously), better than Android, and more friendly towards developers. Arriving at my office this week in fact is an HP TouchPad that I had ordered to carry out some new ARM-based benchmarking. I'm not even back yet to open the package, but now HP is evidently working to kill it off. I hope to have up some of these ARM benchmarks from webOS next week.

If all else fails with HP's webOS dealings, hopefully they will just open more of it up.

Time to go meet some of the Hewlett Packard representatives at LinuxCon and hopefully forge some new sources.

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