It’s hard to imagine a tech news story that rivals Google buying Motorola’s mobility division, but Hewlett-Packard has just about done it. Today HP announced that they will be killing off it’s WebOS division. A decision not entirely unfounded, however they really did a poor job at going about it.
It is hard to imagine a life-span of a product more battered than that of WebOS. It was created as a company’s savior, it was truly a technical and graphical achievement. Sadly, consumer response was mixed and sales weren’t enough to keep Palm Inc afloat. Just as the company was about to go under, HP swooped in with the generous sum of $1,200,000,000 and acquired the company to reboot its fledgling mobile business. Development was stagnant, no flagship releases in almost two years with most changes only coming in the form of corporate restructuring; HP did not instill confidence in WebOS enthusiasts. Finally, new hardware came in the form of year old specs labeled as the HP Pre 2, before it could even hit the market, production specs were released for the Pre 3. Despite the poor sales, of clearly dismal products, HP promised a great future for WebOS, in printers, tablet form, Dr. Dre music videos, and the claim that it would be included in all HPs by 2012. The TouchPad launched with horrid sales, BestBuy sold less than 10% of its stock, combined worldwide sales after 6 weeks were less than a quarter of a one percent of the original Apple iPad.
This is where it gets really bad. Not even 2 months after releasing their premium tablet, HP shuts down all development on WebOS. I cannot imagine what customers of the TouchPad are feeling. Even worse, I cannot conceive what is going to happen to WebOS developers!
In what seems to be even worse timed is that HTC is in talks to license WebOS exclusively. Essentially HP has announced the death of their $1.2 billion investment, alienating its current customers, while they sell license rights to another company. So much about this just does not seem right.
The whole ordeal just screams of poor timing and bad execution. The good news is TouchPads are more affordable than ever with their prices dropping faster than the cost of HD-DVD’s and HP’s stock.