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RIP Palm smart phones: HP's CEO indicates that the company plans to let the business die down and will not continue investing in webOS smart phones.  (Source: Verizon)
World's biggest computer manufacturer said it merely bought Palm for IP for devices like tablets

Hewlett Packard, the world's largest personal computer maker, is in a period of transition.  It's releasing 9,000 employees and hiring 6,000 new ones.  And it just purchased Palm at the end of April for $1.2B USD.

That acquisition gives HP access to webOS, a powerful mobile internet device operating system.  HP is already rumored to be cooking up a webOS tablet -- dubbed "Hurricane".  However, according to Mark Hurd, HP's Chief Executive Officer, the company is not planning to launch or market new Palm smart phones.

Hurd commented at a Bank of America Merill Lynch technology conference, "We didn’t buy Palm to be in the smartphone business. And I tell people that, but it doesn’t seem to resonate well. We bought it for the IP. The webOS is one of the two ground-up pieces of software that is built as a web operating environment…We have tens of millions of HP small form factor web-connected devices…Now imagine that being a web-connected environment where now you can get a common look and feel and a common set of services laid against that environment. That is a very value proposition."

He adds that the company isn't going to "spend billions of dollars trying to go into the smartphone business; that doesn’t in any way make any sense."

The idea that HP bought Palm only to turn around and let the veteran smartphone maker's core business die indeed strikes some as bizarre.  Adding to the confusion is that HP's rival Dell is soon going to be unleashing smartphones powered by Android OS and Windows Phone 7.

However, HP seems dead set not to spend the money required to continue to design and produce smartphone handsets.  In that sense, webOS smartphones have become a threatened species -- past the current generation, it sounds unlikely that any new hardware will arrive.

Instead, HP will use its webOS assets to power devices such as tablets or web-enabled printers.  It also looks to use other assets in Palm's rich intellectual property portfolio, a byproduct of its pioneering role in the PDA and smartphone movements.  In that sense, even if HP sticks to its word about smartphones, its modest investment may soon pay off.

Updated 5/3/2010 @ 6:15 pm EST

According to Engadget, HP is clarifying Hurd's comments about webOS on smartphones. Here's the response from HP:

When we look at the market, we see an array of interconnected devices, including tablets, printers, and of course, smartphones. We believe webOS can become the backbone for many of HP's small form factor devices, and we expect to expand webOS's footprint beyond just the smartphone market, all while leveraging our financial strength, scale, and global reach to grow in smartphones.

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Web OS can only by HP
By littleprince on 6/3/2010 9:54:57 AM , Rating: 1
WebOS cannot compete with Android and WinMo as long as they are owned by HP. Other hardware manufacturers will not invest in their competitor.

Google and MS have no interest in hardware manufacturing whereas if another company X spends billions promotion WebOS it is their hardware manufacturing competitor that benefits and can step in at any time and destroy that work.

RE: Web OS can only by HP
By mcnabney on 6/3/2010 10:36:11 AM , Rating: 2
I disagree on two points.

First, Google did make a device. Fortunately they are not stubborn fools and acknowledged that HTC and Motorola were making products just as good or better so it won't be worth their time to stay actively engaged in developing a constant flow of devices.

Second, Microsoft is just holding the door for the Palm-device exit. They will be leaving too after their new mobile device platform fizzles. Sorry, there is only room for one company that offers a closed system with numerous features missing and Apple isn't going to give that spot up.

RE: Web OS can only by HP
By nafhan on 6/3/2010 1:07:43 PM , Rating: 2
Don't count Microsoft out until they decide to quit or run out of money - neither of which has happened. Look at anything they've been successful with. Success for them usually doesn't happen on the first, second, or - often - even the third try. Also, MS does their best when they are in second place or coming back from a huge failure. Both are, arguably, the case with their mobile OS division.

RE: Web OS can only by HP
By theapparition on 6/3/2010 3:31:04 PM , Rating: 2
First, Google did make a device.

I hope you didn't mean the HTC designed and manufactured NexusOne.

Google has never made a hardware device.

Second, Microsoft is just holding the door for the Palm-device exit.

I'm not going to disagree with you here. MS seems intent on following Apples mobile model. MS needs something to differentiate themselves, not another me-too. See Zune for failure (which is a shame, because the Zune is far superiour to the iPod in every way).

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