HP abandons WebOS, feels like moving away from computers to software; HPFansite’s future now at stake

A massive earthquake (figuratively) occurred at HP today and there’s a ton of news and changes that might just change EVERYTHING (in a not so good way). First off, the biggest chunk of news that’s bound to disappoint many WebOS fans: HP will quote “discontinue operations for WebOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and WebOS phones“, which in English means they’re effectively going to kill (or already have?) the Palm legacy and WebOS. No more WebOS smartphones or tablets! Yup, end of the road for those devices, so long and goodbye (and absolutely zero hope for an iPAQ revival).

HP did spend $1.2 billion on acquiring Palm so it makes sense that WebOS fansite, PreCentral, has reported HP might not flush WebOS and Palm down the drain and opt to sell (or license) it off instead, though things are still looking very bleak for HP’s mobile division (if you can call it that). I’m personally skeptical about another company taking over Palm or continuing WebOS. The ecosystem has already failed twice (once with Palm, and now, with HP) so unless a company is absolutely willing to take a risk to resurrect WebOS and Palm’s legacy for the third time (and how will said mythical company’s board of directors and investors react if that were to happen?), the system is essentially dead.

Many users on the net are hoping HTC might be that buyer should a sale of WebOS/Palm occur, but HTC has moved on to Android and Windows Phone (and recently acquired a commanding stake at Beats Audio) so it’s doubtful they’ll be looking back at WebOS when they’ve already got their hands full and enjoying quite a bit of success in the market.

So much for the HP Pre 3 making it anywhere outside of the UK… and that 7 inch TouchPad will never see the light of day. Though strangely enough, HP did announce a 64 GB variant of the TouchPad tablet earlier today, which is very peculiar indeed. I wondering how tempted consumers will be to buy a product which is essentially obsolete in terms of support (deja vu as I wondered the same thing about Microsoft’s Zune media players; though Microsoft’s move was a good and justified one as they were shifting to focus on Windows Phone 7).

Next up, HP is contemplating a huge move to sell off its PC division and shift its focus to software! Yes, it’s big news that’s maddening to hear that HP is even having THOUGHTS about selling off their Personal Systems Group division (responsible for their PCs and computers). It’s really awful alright. Personally I am devastated because I have grown up (Yes, I’m not old!) on HP (and previously, Compaq) computers and laptops.

Unlike the WebOS door-closing, this part about the PC division hasn’t been confirmed… but don’t go out for cookies and milk to celebrate just yet, because Bloomberg has mentioned a decision could come as early as later today (!). If it happens, HP expects a transition phase of 12 to 18 months for things to finalize and complete… sounds like a reasonable amount of time for us fanboys to cry and get over it and run out to buy a Vaio Z! If this sounds familiar, yes, IBM did something similar when they turned things over to Lenovo, and IBM ThinkPads became Lenovo ThinkPads… same heritage yet some things will never be the same again.

In my opinion, I think that’s not too brilliant of them, to get all hurt about their PC division (and HP IS the number 1 PC manufacturer in the world) and want to get rid of it just because it isn’t bringing in ENOUGH margins and profit. Look at IBM and Lenovo. Sure IBM may be still around and pretty successful nowadays, but I only knew that because I went to look them up on Google and Wikipedia… I haven’t heard about IBM at all, besides the occasional ‘fastest supercomputer achievement’ news, since they sold their PC-making business to Lenovo. Same case with the average consumer… ask them what a ThinkPad is and they’ll probably know, ask them about IBM and many will be “say what? What’s an IBM?” (Especially true with younger consumers), and tell them “did you know IBM originally made ThinkPads” and you’re likely to get “Like what? Did they now?”.

HP plans to move from the hardware business to software… which is slightly questionable too, since I have never been a fan of the pre-installed bloatware bundled software on their computers. They are acquiring a software company, Autonomy Corp for a whopping $10 billion. Well, HP, I hope you’ve done your homework on one, the level of software piracy that exists out there, and two, what kind of software you will be making that people would possibly want to buy. We’ve got Microsoft, Google and Apple for operating systems, Adobe, Corel and Autodesk for graphics software, individual smaller developers and “micro”-companies making mobile apps, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ for social networking, WordPress and Movable Type for blogging platforms, and the list goes on.

Granted it MIGHT be interesting if HP decides to go the software route, but extremely depressing if they gave the brand and job of making PCs to someone else. Then we would have to rename this place the “whoever HP decides to sell their PSG to”-fansite.com. Also, by doing that, HP might possibly go the way of IBM… still alive but never to be heard from again by ‘regular Joe’ consumers. Well, maybe not entirely, since they haven’t said anything about their printers, so we might see HP printers for a while.

The potential sale of the PSG division also begs the question about higher end product lines like their Z-workstation (Z800, mmm, yummy!) computers as well as ‘PC accessories’ such as HP monitors… will those go away too? This is a serious question; anyone with information, do email me. Because who’s going to make those lovely DreamColor displays?! And who is DreamWorks going to work with when it comes to computers used to create and process their movies?

And finally, the future of HP Fansite might be on a bit of a limbo in terms of coverage. If HP goes through with selling away their PC business, we won’t be covering “HP computers” anymore, but instead we might cover “whoever buys HP’s PSG”‘s computers. What do you guys think? I would love to hear from loyal readers. Deep inside, I’m still passionate to cover tech news that interests me, so we might continue to do that but talk about computers on a basis that extends beyond discussing a single brand. No worries though, this site will always be around, it’s just a matter of what readers want to see covered. And it’s always fun and great talking and emailing you guys (special thanks to our frequent readers).

Alright, that’s all I have to say for now. We haven’t received official word on what HP is going to do exactly, neither have they made a decision, but the previous paragraph was just a pre-emptive statement/assurance that HP Fansite ain’t closing down regardless of what HP decides to do (heck we might just turn into Hush Puppies Fansite or Harry Potter Fansite… oops, I forgot, Harry Potter just ended with their last movie, so much for that idea).

P.S. I have been working on Games Per Second, a place that covers video games (long time HP Fansite readers know I’m an avid PC gamer!) which was initially conceived as an off-shoot site so folks wanting to read HP news won’t have to bump into the occasional PC game review or mad-hatter videos of racing Lamborghinis on EliteBooks. But if, in an unexpected turn of events occurs at HP which causes HP Fansite to cover computer hardware, processors, graphics card and the like in general, then Games Per Second would make a good complement/sister site… because most gamers are PC enthusiasts and most PC enthusiasts are gamers, am I right?

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  1. Chuck August 18, 2011 Reply

    So does this mean no new envy line up next year 🙁 Also hp sure knows how to burn money efficiently

    • Brad S | August 18, 2011 Reply

      I heard Rahul Sood (the guy behind Voodoo PC which HP bought, and Voodoo PC was behind the idea of ‘Envy’ laptops) is pretty upset about today’s news too, though the news of whether HP will or will not continue making PCs has yet to be revealed

  2. Indrek August 18, 2011 Reply

    Note that if they do decide to get rid of PSG, selling it off isn’t the only option. According to the official press release, they might also just split it off into a separate company.

  3. Ytterbium August 19, 2011 Reply

    You could become dell fansite or Lenovo fansite?

    Sad times, I think HP is a rung above the other companys

  4. Brad S | August 19, 2011 Reply

    Thanks =) No problem, if anything happens to HP, we will continue to cover PC and tech news but we will no longer limit the focus to HP and expand to covering other brands too =)

    Then “HP” Fansite could become “High Performance” Fansite where we talk about computer and smartphone hardware =)

  5. Andrew August 21, 2011 Reply

    What you need to realise is HP won’t be moving into consumer software; what IBM software do you use?

    They will move into enterprise software and services like IBM.

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