Friday, August 19, 2011

HP Pulls The Plug On WebOS

Hewlett-Packard issued a statement yesterday saying that it will stop selling hardware based on the webOS platform it acquired from Palm. HP acquired webOS as part of its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm a year ago and had hoped to use the software in all manner of devices from phones and tablets to PCs and printers. HP, however, was slow to bring out products based on WebOS, and allowed existing Pre and Pixi devices to lose significant market share among both consumers and developers. The much hyped launch of the HP TouchPad last month was the first in a series of steps that was to re-establish webOS as a serious player in the mobile market. The HP TouchPad received mixed reviews and sold poorly, leading to a series of price cuts.

This isn't unexpected. As much as I love webOS and was a huge fan of the Palm IIIc, Palm was going bankrupt for a reason. HP couldn't expect to use the same strategy that Palm had been using unsuccessfully and expect different results. My experience testing the HP TouchPad was that, while I loved webOS for its implementation of application cards (the most elegant approach to multi-tasking), the HP backed hardware was complete crap.

HP made a number of other critical mistakes with regards to their implementation of webOS, not the least of which was sitting on the tech for 8 months before releasing anything. Missing the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show was a huge mistake and may have led to their inability to reach a deal with Sprint to implement webOS devices. Sprint no doubt smelled blood in the water. HP then vastly over-estimated their sales targets with the HP TouchPad when they shipped 270,000 units to Best Buy. Best Buy sold only 25,000 devices and the blame doesn't lie with the fact that Russell Brand, Manny Pacquiao and Lea Michelle simply aren't good pitchers.

While a big part of me is sad that this is apparently the death-knell for webOS, part of me has to think that this whole thing is a karmic response for HP and their insanely high priced toner cartridges.

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