Print 29 comment(s) - last by Moishe.. on Jun 7 at 10:35 AM

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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By omnicronx on 6/3/2010 10:55:56 AM , Rating: 5
We continue to think mobility will be a very important part of the market. [...] when you think of HP, it'll be a little different from what people talk about the smartphone market. [...] The opportunity for content to be aligned to those interconnected devices [tablets and printers], particularly those small form-factor devices, that intellectual property gives us, we think a tremendous opportunity to work with HP across the ecosystem.

Smartphones are just another connected device to us. For example, building a smartphone or a phone of any type is not a particularly complicated engineering feat - and I don't mean that to be demeaning to anybody in the phone business. The more important part is the intellectual property ecosystem of IP and the services that connect to it. So for us I think you should think of the webOS being a more important component than necessarily the phone itself.

Everyone took his original comments out of context. Hes not saying HP is getting out of the smartphone business once they aquire Palm, he is saying Palm's smartphone business was not the reason they acquired Palm. They acquired them for their WebOS IP, and wants to extend it to other HP products, but that does not mean they are merely going to throw WebOS smartphones to the curb, it just won't be their only/main focus for WebOS.

RE: ...
By lyeoh on 6/3/2010 2:00:48 PM , Rating: 2
Palm may go the way of Tandem and VMS.

RE: ...
By melgross on 6/3/2010 2:32:51 PM , Rating: 2
No, he said, in a direct quote, that they wouldn't be spending the billions it took to have smartphones. That's saying that they're getting out of that part of the business. Any other interpretation is just wishful thinking.

It's understandable, as the products have been failures by any measurement. I really don't see how they would be a success in a tablet either. People just don't seem to like these things.

RE: ...
By omnicronx on 6/3/2010 4:16:33 PM , Rating: 2
Obviously he felt the need to address the article that spread like wildfire from one source (in which it was not an interview, but an excerpt of his speech at a conference).

He felt the need to sit down and have a video interview to clear things up, so obviously its a little more than wishful thinking.

Either things were taken out of context (which would not be beyond the realm of possibility considering the original source), or he truly is a moron and made a terrible mistake.

In the end you would truly have to be a bad CEO to make any claims like this (even if they were true), especially with the pending roll out of the Pre in Europe and the recent AT&T release.

RE: ...
By Moishe on 6/7/2010 10:09:49 AM , Rating: 2
WebOS is really a great OS and done right, it can be a real benefit to HP. I have a Palm Pre Plus and I think the OS is really genius. The phone itself is OK, and it's a bit under powered, but if you put the OS on a more powerful device with a bigger screen, I think it will shine.

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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