One day after we blogged about how difficult it's been for competitors to go up against the Apple iPad -- citiing HP's inability to sell its TouchPad to consumers -- HP announces it is killing the TouchPad and putting its webOS mobile operating system on ice.
"HP plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones," the company said in a statement (Aug 18). "HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward."
“Our webOS devices have not gained enough traction in the marketplace with consumers,” said HP CEO Leo Apotheker in a conference call on Thursday, as reported by Mike Issac of Wired (Aug 18). “Continuing to execute our current device approach in this space is no longer in the interest of HP or its shareholders.”
Acquired from Palm in May 2010 (see HP Acquires Palm), webOS has failed to take off. "Major competitors Apple and Google dominate the smartphone arena with their respective iOS and Android platforms, while RIM's BlackBerry OS and Nokia's Symbian round out the competition," Isaac writes. "Along with Microsoft's puny Windows Phone OS, HP trails behind all other leading platforms in market share.
Isaac reports that analysts are speculating HP and Microsoft could capitalize on Google’s Motorola acquisition by licensing webOS and Windows Mobile OS out to Android manufacturers alienated by the recent deal, such as Samsung, HTC, and LG.
"It's also possible that HP could follow in Motorola's footsteps, putting its patent portfolio on the market for a hefty sale," he writes.
I agree with Isaac. I think one of the major mobile OS companies trailing Apple and Google (i.e. Microsoft, RIM or Nokia) will likely pony up the cash for added patent security and access to webOS' technology, which was notably praised on the Palm Pre.