Posts tagged palm
Just a year after it bought Palm for $1.2 billion, HP has given up and is discontinuing all webOS phones and tablets, including the Pre and TouchPad devices. The strategic turnaround is mentioned in the “other announcements” section of a press release saying HP may spin off its whole Personal Systems Group (PCs, mobile devices, and storage)– itself quite a bombshell:
“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 unclear what HP plans to do with webOS going forward– license or sell the OS to other phone manufacturers, open source it, or just kill it completely. But by announcing the move this way, HP has pretty much guaranteed that developers and enthusiasts alike will begin to abandon the platform.
These moves are part of CEO Leo Apothekar’s plan to move HP towards an IBM-like model– going from low-margin personal computers and devices into high-margin enterprise software and services. The also confirmed that HP is acquiring Autonomy Corporation plc, another B2B software vendor, for $11.7 billion.
Ultimately, these moves make sense given Apothekar’s past as the head of SAP, a German enterprise software giant– he’s clearly much more comfortable selling software licenses to large companies than competing with the likes of Apple in the consumer space. Yet we can’t help but see the move as severed misguided. HP is the largest seller of PCs in the world and has a deeper supply chain and global distribution network than anyone else in the consumer electronics industry. Further, Apothekar’s inspiration, IBM, has always focused on business first, consumer second, and thus saw the PC business as a diversion from its core, but HP’s history is much more focused on consumers.
HP’s newer PCs, most visibly the Envy line of laptops that resulted from the VoodooPC acquisition, show that the company can successfully compete against Apple in premium computers. The TouchPad tablet has not been an instant success, but the webOS software has received broad acclaim, and who knows– greater investment in hardware and developer engagement, as HP promised a year ago, could have resulted in a viable mobile competitor. HP’s current leadership seems to have a fundamental impatience that is incompatible with success in the consumer space.
Even before this announcement, HP displayed a lack of strategic clarity with webOS, alienating Microsoft by announcing it’d ship webOS on all its Windows PCs and then backpedaling on the decision. While Apothekar thinks the move to abandon webOS will help HP in the enterprise space, credibility is key in that business, and how credible is a company that gave up, after just one year, on a $1.2 billion acquisition whose technology was supposedly critical to the company’s future? Further, the move seems to all but ignore the recent trend of consumerization– even enterprise buying decisions are now being influenced by consumer devices.
Perhaps HP has something magical up its sleeve, but we’re going to join the bandwagon of “#hpfail” posters on Twitter and say that giving up on the entire consumer computing business — PCs, smartphones, tablets, and peripherals (except printers) — would be a sad and serious misstep for one of the world’s strongest consumer electronics brands.
Update 2: This graph from AllThingsD indicates a lot of what’s wrong at HP:
Press release after the break.
HP bought Palm last year, and while the company did launch the Pre 2, a moderately updated Pre, a few months later, today we’re seeing the first real fruits of the acquisition. HP just wrapped up its “Think Beyond” event in San Francisco, and the big picture is that it sees WebOS — admittedly an impressive operating system, despite its failure to catch on with consumers in a big way — as a solid foundation to build all sorts of devices on, from phones and tablets (as detailed today) to printers and PCs (in the near future).
HP launched three new devices today: Veer — a tiny, credit-card sized (though of course much thicker) smartphone with a 2.6″ touchscreen — Pre 3, a high-end 3.6″ slider with a giant-crushing 1.4 GHz Snapdragon CPU — and TouchPad, a 9.7″ WebOS tablet with a dual-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon CPU. All boast impressive specs (including speedy Snapdragon chips from Qualcomm), and it looks like WebOS finally has competitive hardware to run on.
Read on for details of each of HP’s new WebOS devices.
Bloomberg reports that Palm is about to put itself up for sale, with offers coming in as early as this week. This is a particularly interesting given that less than a week ago, the smartphone maker’s CEO, Jon Rubinstein, strongly defended Palm’s business plan and ability to turn a profit independently in a Fortune interview. Palm has reportedly hired Goldman Sachs and Qatalyst Partners to handle the sale. Dell has opted against a bid, but HTC and Lenovo are said to be interested.
HTC would be a particularly intriguing suitor, since Palm owns a deep array of patents that would help HTC neutralize Apple’s patent infringement lawsuit and give it room to operate much more freely without fear of patent suits from competitors.
Of course, HTC would also gain access to a great smartphone operating system in Palm’s WebOS. Palm OS + HTC hardware? Hmm…tasty.
Smartphone manufacturers these days boast of their phones’ computer-like capabilities, from desktop-like internet browsing to HD video playback. They toss around spec sheets filled with processor names like ARM11, Cortex A8, Snapdragon, Tegra, OMAP, Armada, and more. What do these all mean, and how do the various chips compare? That’s what we’re going to take a look at today. More >