All Things Digital is reporting that Hewlett-Packard
Company (HPQ), currently the world's largest maker of personal
computers, is in the process of laying off 525 employees in its webOS
A spokesperson for the company comments, "As communicated on August 18, HP
will discontinue the development of webOS devices within the fourth quarter of
fiscal year 2011, which ends Oct 31 2011. As part of this decision, the webOS
GBU [general business unit] is undergoing a reduction in workforce. Today’s
actions are part of this initiative. During this time, we stand by our
commitment to our webOS customers and will work to ensure that support and
service for customers are not adversely affected. HP is exploring ways to
leverage webOS software."
The layoffs are yet another sign that webOS is nearing a full death.
HP acquired the mobile operating system when in purchased Palm in April 2010 for $1.2B USD. At
first it continued to develop the operating system and release new
hardware . But with the
arrival on new CEO Léo Apotheker, the company decided to
ditch its family of mobile products.
It pulled its TouchPad tablet after less than seven weeks on the market,
to webOS fans' dismay. While HP insists that it may still use webOS in
other applications (such as printers), the prospects of webOS continuing to be
a serious mobile device operating system look bleak given the staff cuts and
internal reports that development on the platform is grinding to a halt.
HP recently announced plans to spin off its PC business, the Personal Systems
Group (PSG). When that happens, there's a slim chance there could be a webOS
revival. Alternatively, the PSG (the HP unit responsible for mobile
devices, personal computers, etc.) may opt to adopt a third party operating
system, such as Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Windows Phone 7 or Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android operating system.
A sale of webOS remains a possibility, as well, should a player like Google
express enough interest.
Many shareholders are quite upset about HP's decision to kill webOS and spin
off their PC business. A consortium of top shareholders have filed suit and are seeking class
action status, claiming Mr. Apotheker deceived shareholders by failing to
disclose plans of the radical changes in advance. As a result, the
shareholders argue, HP's stock price was artificially inflated.