HP ends webOS device business, including TouchPad

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Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) announced it is killing off its webOS devices business, specifically the TouchPad tablet and webOS smartphones--a dramatic turn of events for HP since the company's CEO Leo Apotheker declared in March that the webOS platform would be integrated into virtually all HP devices, including computers, tablets, smartphones and printers. In fact, every single HP PC was going to hit the market packaged with webOS by 2012.

The news comes nearly 16 months after HP purchased Palm, the maker of webOS, for $1.2 billion. HP said in a statement it "will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward." The company had acknowledged that it was in discussions with multiple companies about licensing the platform to others, but never named any companies that were interested.

HP said it is looking at a number of strategic options for its Personal Systems Group, which includes smartphones, tablets and PCs. The company said it would study a large range of options that could include a full or partial separation of the group from HP.

The news comes after AllThingsD detailed how the HP TouchPad was experiencing dismal sales at Best Buy retail stores. Palm developed the webOS platform as a way to rejuvenate its Palm brand, but the company found its devices failing to gain market acceptance.

Even under the guise of HP, webOS was seriously lagging given the popularity of Apple (NYSE: AAPL), Android and BlackBerry. And meanwhile Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is aggressively wooing developers to the Windows Phone 7 platform. The webOS platform is well-liked by developers since it offers many similarities to Linux, but it never had the volume to attract developers en masse.

Analysts were banking on a webOS comeback on tablets, but Apple and Android quickly secured that market as well. HP needed to find some serious volume and failed to do so.

For more:
- see this release
- see this Bloomberg article

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