Tag Archives | HP

The End–Once and For All?–of WebOS

Sad but not surprising: The Guardian’s Charles Arthur is reporting that HP, having failed to find anyone who wants to buy WebOS, is giving up:

Despite HP’s attempts to find a potential buyer or licencee for webOS – which ran on the short-lived TouchPad – there has been no apparent interest outside the company. Sir Howard Stringer, chief executive of Sony, told the Guardian on Thursday that he had no immediate interest in buying or licensing it after completing the acquisition of the rest of the Sony Ericsson business. And early suggestions that HTC might purchase it have also fallen away.

Some have suggested that Amazon might buy webOS, seeing the presence on the Amazon board of ex-Palm chief executive and HP executive Jon Rubinstein, who previously worked for Apple. But there is no indication that Amazon is interested in acquiring another operating system; it is using its own version of Google’s Android software for its new Kindle Fire device.


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HP Decides It’s a PC Company After All

Back in August, HP announced that it felt its PC division, the world’s largest, might be better off if it wasn’t part of HP. It said it was going to review its options and that it might take twelve to eighteen months to come to any conclusions.

A month later, the company fired its CEO, Léo Apotheker, and replaced him with former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. She didn’t take a year and a half to make a decision–and the decision is that HP will stay in the PC business.

“HP objectively evaluated the strategic, financial and operational impact of spinning off PSG. It’s clear after our analysis that keeping PSG within HP is right for customers and partners, right for shareholders, and right for employees,” said Meg Whitman, HP president and chief executive officer. “HP is committed to PSG, and together we are stronger.”

(Sadly, the reversal doesn’t seem to have any impact on Apotheker’s other big PC-related decision: Killing the TouchPad tablet after six weeks.)

I always found the breakup plausible–if for no other reason than that it’s an idea that’s been around for a least a decade–but I’m glad it’s not happening. And it always suffered from a fundamental flaw: How could it make sense for HP to want to be an enterprise software and services company that also happened to be heavily dependent on profits from ink cartridges sold to consumers?

The next few years of the PC industry are going to be some of the most interesting ones since the beginning of the PC business, since it’s so very unclear what’s going to happen to the PC we’ve known for all these decades. I hope that HP takes that as an opportunity, not an existential threat to its PC business–and that it builds some cool machines in the years to come.

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WebOS’s Moment of Truth

According to AppleInsider’s Daniel Eran Dilger, the fate of HP’s WebOS may be decided this week:

While webOS is now largely finished and its hardware was ready to sell, HP’s cancellation of the hardware side of the equation, motivated by dismal sales, means that a spinoff of Palm would result in a return to square one for the group, forcing it to formulate a new licensing business in a market where even Microsoft has had a very difficult time assembling a viable ecosystem of mobile licensees.

I hope it lives, even though I’m afraid it’ll break my heart again.


Amazon to Buy Palm?

VentureBeat’s Devindra Hardawar is reporting that Amazon.com is seriously interested in buying WebOS from HP, the company that bought Palm for $1.2 billion and then killed the TouchPad after six weeks.

The Kindle Fire is powered by Android, but it’s been heavily customized by Amazon to the point where you can barely tell. By purchasing the remnants of Palm, Amazon would have free rein to redesign webOS to its own liking, and it would be able to further differentiate its Kindle devices from the slew of Android tablets in the market.

It would be swell if the WebOS saga ended happily, and I can’t think of a better candidate than Amazon to figure out how to do well by the software. Then again, I once thought that HP could be a good home for it, too…


Tough Love for HP

Looks like David Churbuck didn’t know that Meg Whitman would replace Leo Apotheker as president and CEO of HP when he wrote about the company’s future–but his assessment and advice, while super-bleak and perhaps a bit ahead of the game as it stands (he says the iPad has already beat the PC), is smart and worth your time.

One fascinating tidbit:

Printers are the last mechanical appendage. Think about it. Once hard disks stopped spinning and went solid state, the last thing with a motor is the printer. Printers are a means to an end, not a future.


HP’s Mess: Blame the Board

James Stewart of the New York Times has a fascinating, depressing story on why HP is apparently about to terminate yet another outsider CEO:

Interviews with several current and former directors and people close to them involved in the search that resulted in the hiring of Mr. Apotheker reveal a board that, while composed of many accomplished individuals, as a group was rife with animosities, suspicion, distrust, personal ambitions and jockeying for power that rendered it nearly dysfunctional.

Among their revelations: when the search committee of four directors narrowed the candidates to three finalists, no one else on the board was willing to interview them. And when the committee finally chose Mr. Apotheker and again suggested that other directors meet him, no one did. Remarkably, when the 12-member board voted to name Mr. Apotheker as the successor to the recently ousted chief executive, Mark Hurd, most board members had never met Mr. Apotheker.

“I admit it was highly unusual,” one board member who hadn’t met Mr. Apotheker told me. “But we were just too exhausted from all the infighting.” During Mr. Apotheker’s brief tenure, once-proud H.P. has become a laughingstock in Silicon Valley. Its results have weakened, its stock has plummeted and his strategy shifts have puzzled people inside and outside the company. Hewlett did not respond to an email seeking comment.

You gotta think there’s a decent chance that Meg Whitman or any other new chief will reconsider Apotheker’s desire to get rid of HP’s PC business. But I don’t dare dream that the bizarrely rapid termination of the TouchPad might also be subject to revisiting.

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HP Terminates the WebOS Team

Sigh. HP, having ended development of WebOS tablets and phones, no longer needs the people who created them, reports All Things Digital’s John Paczkowski:

Sources close to HP say the company plans to lay off as many as 525 employees, and that it began carrying out that dreadful duty this week.


The American Customer Satisfaction Index: Apple Aces It, Again

The American Customer Satisfaction Index rates various industries and companies for–you can probably figure this out on your own–customer satisfaction, based on a poll of 70,000 consumers. It’s released its latest numbers for the PC industry, and there are no surprises: Apple has a clear lead on everybody else that the survey has enough data about to rate.

Here are the ratings for 2011, on a scale of 100. (Unfortunately, there are some major players that it doesn’t have specific data for, such as Lenovo, Sony, and Toshiba–they’re part of “All Others.”)

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The TouchPad Lives! Momentarily! Or Eventually! Possibly! I Hope So!

Not too long ago, HP was laying out its vision for its then-new TouchPad tablet. It involved the company’s dedication to making the TouchPad a success, and–everyone at HP who I spoke with repeated this word until it rang in my ears–the “scale” the giant company could being to the effort. The strategy was ambitious and clear.

Then, week before last, HP abruptly responded to disappointing initial sales for the new tablet by killing it. That was depressing. But clear.

Then it decided to blow out the remaining Touchpads for $99 apiece. Poignant. And understandable, at least. I mean, it’s better than dumping them in landfill.

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Free WebOS Apps

Got yourself a $99 TouchPad? HP has some free apps for you.