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HP Hardware News

HP Spinning Off WebOS and Exiting Hardware Business 514

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the there-can-be-only-one dept.
A number of readers submitted rumors about some announcements HP was set to make today. Now, the announcements have actually happened, and the news looks grim. For starters, they are exiting the tablet and phone market and repositioning webOS for use in appliances and vehicles. While confirming they are in talks to acquire Autonomy, they also announced they are considering exiting the PC hardware business entirely in order to focus on their software business.
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HP Spinning Off WebOS and Exiting Hardware Business

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  • by Stenchwarrior (1335051) on Thursday August 18, 2011 @04:05PM (#37134048)
    Judging by the amount of bloat-ware that's been coming with HP computers for the past several years, it would seem they've been practicing for this very moment.
    • HP has been one of the worst PC manufacturers [squaretrade.com] in the last 10 years (if not more). I have had a very low view of their PCs since the time they started selling thsose small towers with everything cramped in (about 10 years ago).

      • Their workstation-class machines have been (and still are) fairly reasonable as off-the-rack systems go. Their servers are good too (though overpriced).
    • Judging by the amount of bloat-ware that's been coming with HP computers for the past several years, it would seem they've been practicing for this very moment.

      OMFG BLOATWARE My wife bought an HP laptop a while back and I couldn't believe the amount of bloat on that thing. I wanted to remove it for her but she just doesn't understand. HP selling their computer business = no great loss. Her newest laptop is an Asus and it's almost bloat free.

  • Figures (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Udo Schmitz (738216) on Thursday August 18, 2011 @04:07PM (#37134082) Journal

    "According to one source who has seen internal HP reports, Best Buy has taken delivery of 270,000 TouchPads and has so far managed to sell only 25,000, or less than 10 percent of the units in its inventory."

    http://allthingsd.com/20110816/ouchpad-best-buy-sitting-on-a-pile-of-unsold-hp-tablets/ [allthingsd.com]

    • Re:Figures (Score:5, Insightful)

      by UnknowingFool (672806) on Thursday August 18, 2011 @04:18PM (#37134274)
      The TouchPad has only been on sale for over a month. It doesn't really have many apps. Did they really expect it to sell out? I really like to know what their expectations were. It seems pulling the plug after such a short time suggests they didn't think it was going take a while to make traction against Apple's iPad.
      • by Machtyn (759119)
        True, but this is after a $50 price drop and then a $100 price drop. With Android devices selling at ~$300 with better hardware features (better cases, GPS), I'm not surprised that these aren't selling even at $400. Woot.com put these on sale and moved only ~650 of them.
        • by cayenne8 (626475)

          True, but this is after a $50 price drop and then a $100 price drop. With Android devices selling at ~$300 with better hardware features (better cases, GPS), I'm not surprised that these aren't selling even at $400. Woot.com put these on sale and moved only ~650 of them.

          Or just get a $250 Barnes and Noble "nook color" ereader, put Android Cyanogen mod7 on it...and you get a nice tablet for cheap.

          I got my brand new for like $135 with some credits I had. The only thing it doesn't have is a camera, and so fa

    • That 25,000 sales figure doesn't include customer returns for refunds, which anecdotally have been startlingly high. The TouchPad has been an unmitigated disaster for HP, and apparently Best Buy is extremely unhappy with the situation, demanding that HP take back unsold inventory.
  • Looking at their WebOS powered tablet at BestBuy next to the iPad2 and android units like the Galaxy Tab, all I can think is WTF, HP?
    But thanks for buying my Palm shares.

    • by pavon (30274)

      There are already several companies selling Android tablets. What would HP have to bring to the table, that they don't? At least with WebOS they had an opportunity to do something different and better. My take is that they either should have committed more to WebOS or not bothered with "smartphone" tablet at all.

    • Anybody here remember Apollo Computer? HP9000/400? Nah, me either.
  • Sad, sad, sad. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jamrock (863246) on Thursday August 18, 2011 @04:11PM (#37134142)
    I hope that HP will somehow weather the turbulence and emerge stronger than ever. This is the company that built Silicon Valley and for decades was the benchmark for tech innovation, and it's so painful to watch them floundering like this. And I'm especially saddened that WebOS never really had a chance to strut it's stuff. I'm a very happy iPad owner, but I have the greatest respect and admiration for what the Palm team accomplished with WebOS's interface, and I was hoping that it would take off and keep Apple on their toes.

    I personally blame Carly Fiorina for the travails of a once-proud company.
    • I personally blame Carly Fiorina for the travails of a once-proud company.

      Yep. Although, Lew Platt gave her a good running start. But she (and Itanic) really finished it off.

    • Agilent (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is the company that built Silicon Valley and for decades was the benchmark for tech innovation, and it's so painful to watch them floundering like this.

      No, that was Agilent, the test and measurement company.

      We're talking about HP, the Printer/Business Services/Bottom-barrel PC company. Totally different.

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        The test and measurement company also made the best printers in the industry for quite some time.

        HP should sell their printer division to Agilent, along with their name, and then shut down.

      • Re:Agilent (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Dogtanian (588974) on Thursday August 18, 2011 @06:30PM (#37135788) Homepage

        This is the company that built Silicon Valley and for decades was the benchmark for tech innovation, and it's so painful to watch them floundering like this.

        No, that was Agilent, the test and measurement company. We're talking about HP, the Printer/Business Services/Bottom-barrel PC company. Totally different.

        Shows you the importance of a name on perception. Often major companies split or spin-off major parts of themselves to the extent that one could question whether the current user of the name is meaningfully the "same" company as the original.

        It occurs to me that it may be useful to consider the lineage of the various business entities formed from mergers, takeovers, spinoffs and splits *without* attaching weight to their names. Then- considering lineage, size and business interests- askine oneself whether the current holder of the "big name" is any more clearly the "true" continuation of the original company than any of the others.

        In the case of Agilent, it's still (apparently) far smaller than HP which remains the obvious parent, but it could also be argued that it represents the roots of HP.

        Motorola is the obvious example that sprung to mind though. It's spun-off or split major parts of itself several times and at the start of this year split into Motorola Solutions and Motorola Mobile, the latter being the business that Google recently bought. But this is after already having spun/split-off its semiconductor divisions in 1999 and 2004, as well as its original radio business (on which it founded its reputation) having been sold off in the 1970s.

        Is Motorola "Solutions" (*) still the same Motorola that created the old products people get nostalgic about? That's questionable.

        (*) Absolutely meaningless sound-good business expression that's so banally all-pervasive that it doesn't even qualify as a "buzzword" any more.

    • I agree that they were a once proud company. I interviewed with them in 1981, when they were regarded as one of the best places to work. But I think they took their eye off the ball and started screwing their customers with shoddy products that they wouldn't even support. I had the misfortune of purchasing one of their DV9000 laptops...with the overheating left hinge problem which freezes and then cracks the case when you try to open it. Typical design problem that HP knew about pretty early in the gam
    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      I disagree. I'd like to see them go under. They should sell their printer division to a company that's currently named "Agilent", and then they should just sell off all their assets and shut their doors. Then Agilent should rename themselves "HP".

  • Works like nothing.... well, just nothing.

    What will Russell Brand do now?
  • HP becomes Palm? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sez Zero (586611) on Thursday August 18, 2011 @04:13PM (#37134174) Journal
    So HP is jettisoning all of the things that made it HP two years ago and just focusing on the stuff they got when they bought Palm? Does this sound like they are trying to blow up the company to anyone else?
    • by Shatrat (855151) on Thursday August 18, 2011 @04:20PM (#37134308)
      Sounds more like they're trying to stop competing with Dell and start competing with IBM, reversing a Fiorina era trend.
      • by Svartalf (2997)

        Reversing? And competing with IBM? Better be better at it than HP is right now.

    • Someone is just trying to finish the job that Fiorina started. I'm upset by this. I LIKE Hewlett Packard hardware. It's generally of good quality (you get occasional duds like with anything else, though) and you pretty much know what you're getting. I like having every single driver for every single computer ever made indexed on their website; it's saved my ass a few times over the years. Other companies are so hit and miss (either it's great and will last 10 years with a Dell, or its going to die in t
      • by iplayfast (166447)

        I agree. I've got several dells and other generics and one HP box. The HP box is fantastic, and the next computer was going to be HP because of that.

    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      Doesn't matter. Oracle will soon gobble them up.
  • Sad day for WebOS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NiteShaed (315799) on Thursday August 18, 2011 @04:14PM (#37134202)

    I'm sorry to see it go, but I'm not at all surprised. I was a release-day Palm Pre buyer (Sprint), and I LOVED WebOS, but Palm really blew it. If there were more apps and the hardware was better (and upgraded more regularly) I would probably have gone with WebOS over Android or iOS, but in the end they left me hanging with no decent upgrade path (the Pre was an okay first-gen device, but really needed a major followup at the one-year mark) and they just didn't attract the app developers (I mean the major developers, the indie devs were fantastic!). End result, I'm now a happy Android user (HTC Evo), but I still miss the great parts of WebOS (Cards, Konami-code to root, etc).

    Well, I'll just keep hoping that some of that good stuff makes it to Android eventually. Last I heard that's where most of the WebOS team ended up.....

    As for WebOS in vehicles....great, just what I need. People have enough crap that they play with instead of paying attention to the road, now they're going to be swiping through multiple cards on their in-dash systems looking for things while careening down the highway? Wonderful....

    • At one point in the early days I was hopeful it would actually overtake Android. It was a great OS with some fantastic ideas, and it doesn't deserve the short run it had...

      Perhaps Apple should buy the WebOS division for the patents... :-)

  • TouchPad price? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wsxyz (543068) on Thursday August 18, 2011 @04:15PM (#37134218)
    So can I get a TouchPad for $100 now?
  • I try to think of HP as in the context of 'software business' but my mind stays blank. Am I missing something? I mean, quitting PC hardware for something I can't remember?
    • It's strange, since HP has been partnered up with VARs for years now. It was a cozy relationship - VAR sold the software and systems, and HP made the hardware. I could see dumping the VARs and going into the integrated solutions business for themselves, but you still need hardware for that to work.
    • Re:Software? (Score:5, Informative)

      by jonbryce (703250) on Thursday August 18, 2011 @04:35PM (#37134534) Homepage

      HP's software business is EDS, which is charging governments vast sums of money for IT systems that don't work.

  • I wonder if patents had anything to do with it?

    It sounds like its time to fire the CEO. They paid billions just a few months ago for WebOS from Palm and now have nothing to show for it. Either way that was a very expensive bad investment if you blow billions just to dump it a very short time later. If patents were that bad the CEO should have made sure their employees did a risk analysis and investigate this. I mean this is why you pay the employees right? Idiots

  • Just as well, judging by the latest HP laptop I've seen, they weren't very good at it.

    • I can't say for the laptops but the HP desktop I have is quite nice. Also the TouchSmart line was rather innovative if underpowered. Now Dell will have no competition in the desktop market and Apple will have no competition in the entertainment pad market. I don't see how this will be good for consumers.

    • Just as well, judging by the latest HP laptop I've seen, they weren't very good at it.

      As a proud Envy owner, I respectfully submit how wrong (and envious) you are.

  • by jd (1658)

    Mr. Apotheker, a former software executive, has been developing a new strategy for H-P based on technology services and software.

    Remember, HP doesn't just make home computers. HP is a major manufacturer of network hardware, computers for the military, Intel-based servers, printers and other appliances, etc. To talk of "services" and "software" basically means the CEO isn't just looking at spinning-off the PC section but all of the different hardware groups. That's not trivial. Even if the spin-off organizat

    • All of that sounds exactly what IBM did. So they see the writing on the wall 5 years after IBM did. However IBM has a headstart just unlike Apple where HP was making tablets for years before Apple albeit they were lackluster Windows tablets.
  • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Thursday August 18, 2011 @04:20PM (#37134314)
    hp hasn't been in the PC hardware business for quite some time. When they realized they could adopt the razor model with their printers they dropped their first core [agilent.com] business like a hot potato and never looked back. They have never been a serious PC manufacturer despite all the PC's they managed to sell. I knew when they bought Palm WebOS was doomed just like when they bought Compaq.
  • Palm provided a hardware and software platform in its PDAs that defined the industry. They were the leaders early on, edging out Apple, Casio, and many others, and they maintained that lead for a very long time. Then they dropped the ball. They stopped innovating, and they failed at multiple attempts to define themselves, all the while other companies came in and took over the market that they had locked in. PalmOS ultimately evolved into WebOS, built up a devoted niche market, and now this.

    I am a long-time

    • by jo_ham (604554)

      They also made themselves look very foolish in the whole "spoofing Apple's USB vendor ID" business to get the Palm Pre to sync with iTunes instead of doing it the proper, documented way like MarkSpace's Missing Sync - a piece of software that has its roots in Palm's early abandoning of the Mac platform leaving some of their users in the cold.

      At that point I was starting to wonder, if someone *seriously* suggested deliberately breaking their USBIF contract terms and spoofing a vendor ID rather than devote so

  • HP has a software business? Besides bloatware on a new HP PC?

    Seriously, name 5 software titles HP makes that a random computer user might know.

    • HP has a software business? Besides bloatware on a new HP PC?

      Seriously, name 5 software titles HP makes that a random computer user might know.

      How does what a random computer user might know equal a "software business"?

  • Oh No! I won't be able to get horribly fragile laptops with absolute crap for support anymore. I have an HP laptop that I bought just over two years ago. It has been mailed back to them for service five times before the warranty expired. Three of those times, they entirely failed to fix the problem, cracked the screen, or didn't return the battery. Every time I have to call them up it is a painful experience talking to India. Contrast with my experience with apple: when I had a bad power supply on a two y
  • FTA: "...exploring a spinoff of its PC business"

    That's entirely different. Summary blows.

    • by tverbeek (457094)

      What will they call the PC-hardware spin-off? I vote for "Compaq".

      "Digital" could work too, though there are a lot of consumers who wouldn't get that it's a name with history behind it, and think that "Digital Computer" is just a redundant way of saying "digital computer" but with uppercase letters.

  • Will the Spinoff cover them?

    • by tverbeek (457094)

      They should spin off the printer hardware business, and just be a printer ink business: it's where the money is.

  • This move by HP reminds me exactly of IBM's move to sell of their consumer computing line to Lenovo back in 2005 [cnet.com]. At the time the CEO made the prescient observation that the consumer hardware business is a low-margin, low-profit business, and indeed for IBM, they've made much more money operating as a software and services outfit (aside from their mainframe line and supercomputing hardware).

    So this leaves Apple and Dell as the only large computer-hardware companies in the USA.

    • by jsepeta (412566)

      well there's always gateway. yuk. i'm extremely disappointed in this news. all 10 pc's in my house are HP's, as are 3 laptops.

    • Honestly, I've been fairly content with Lenovo for higher end, and Acer or Asus for low-end. The last several tiems I bought HP, they cost more than the equivalent Acer or Asus and the build quality was no better.
    • by tverbeek (457094)

      Well, it depends a bit on what entity ends up owning the PC division: whether it's sold to a foreign corporation or not. But really, does it make a difference where the corporate offices of the company are? Yes, it's nice that Apple has headquarters in Cupertino, Dell is in Round Rock, and HP is in Palo Alto, and that they provide good jobs and pay some taxes there, but they're all selling products that are made overseas.

  • Something is between lines. HP recently bought Palm for a lot of cash, announced new webos&devices and now they are ditching those devices. So why they were so confident on buying palm in the 1st place? Im afraid that the patent fight around mobile/portable devices will scale up a lot in the next few months.
    • by Tridus (79566)

      I'm not sure what's missing. HP tried to get into the tablet business by buying Palm. The Touchpad bombed in spectacular fashion and will require them to take a huge loss.

      Now they've decided they can't compete in that business. They probably should have figured that out earlier, but better late then never I suppose.

  • History of HP (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tibit (1762298) on Thursday August 18, 2011 @04:51PM (#37134792)

    So, HP was an instrument company, started with an ingenious application of a light bulb [linear.com] no less. Then they became a computer company sort of by attrition, since they needed machines to control their instruments -- IIRC. Then servers came sort of naturally when they got to dabble with UNIX. Then the core instrument business got spun off as Agilent, pretty much tarring the name of Hewlett and Packard IMHO. Then the PC business gets spun off too. So what remains is servers? What the heck software is HP shipping that hasn't to do with their own hardware? It's becoming more and more of a joke to keep the same name. Their business got nothing to do with Hewlett nor Packard. They're turning in their graves. </rant>

  • by celticryan (887773) on Thursday August 18, 2011 @05:00PM (#37134924)
    They were just awarded a huge NASA contract to provide HARDWARE and desktop support (the old Lockheed ODIN contract)... Seems odd. http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/newsroom/press/2011/110428a.html [hp.com]
    Since they are replacing all the Dells at NASA with HP (at HP's request when they started the contract) - why would they now be looking to get out of hardware?
    • by rubycodez (864176)
      low profits, money is finally driving HPs thinking. that NSA and similar contracts won't matter, they'll just go with the spin-off
  • I just see the last software designed by palm sinking. All which i have now as a memory is the port of graffiti as an input method for android.

  • by NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) on Thursday August 18, 2011 @05:04PM (#37134990)
    Compaq
  • > they also announced they are considering exiting the PC hardware business entirely in order to focus on their software business.

    Could it be... could this mean... that I will never again have to fix a customer's Pavilion?

    Happy days are here again!

    The skes above are clear again!

    Let's sing a song of cheer again!

    Happy days are here agaaaaaainnnnnnnn

    But wait... doesn't that mean they'll sell existing stock at heavily discounted prices? Now I'm depressed again...

  • by drgroove (631550) on Thursday August 18, 2011 @07:40PM (#37136396)
    I'm a little surprised more /.'ers aren't familiar with HP's software and services division. HP is considered to be one of the "Big 4" of enterprise infrastructure, service, and asset management, along with CA, BMC, and IBM. HP's acquisition of EDS strengthened their professional consulting position, and put them squarely in competition with IBM as their main software/services competitor. Enterprise software is basically a license to print money. Companies and governments spend inordinate amounts of cash on the Big 4's closed-source software, enterprise license agreements, support contracts, and implementation services. If HP is anything like CA or IBM, they're making the vast majority of their money on enterprise software and services, and very little on PC's and devices. Spinning off or selling their PC / device manufacturing business made sense for IBM, and it makes sense for HP, especially in light of the consumer competition in that space. There simply isn't the same competition in the enterprise space, hence why the Big 4 can charge the inflated prices they do for their software and services.

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