HP to decide webOS future in 'next couple of months'

Hewlett-Packard announced it will not spin off its Personal Systems Group as it had initially planned to do. The division houses the company's PC business as well as its webOS-based smartphone and tablet division. HP executives said the move will help HP more effectively compete in the enterprise space.

Though HP will retain its PC business, the fate of its webOS software platform remains uncertain.

"I think we need to be in the tablet business, and we're certainly going to be there with Windows 8,"said HP CEO Meg Whitman during a call with investors to discuss the Personal Systems Group news. "So we're going to make another run at this business. And we're going to make a decision about the long-term future of webOS within HP over the next couple of months. And as soon as we make that decision we'll let you know on that."

Whitman explained that the future of webOS is not necessarily tied to the company's Personal Systems Group because webOS software could affect other HP divisions.

"We're working very, very hard to make the right decision about that product [webOS]," said HP's Todd Bradley, executive vice president of PSG.

HP executives skirted around the topic of smartphones, and did not address whether HP would build additional smartphones. The executives confirmed only that HP would build Windows 8 tablets--the question of possible future webOS tablets was left unanswered.

According to the Guardian, there is a strong possibility that HP will simply shut down webOS, a move that would affect 500 jobs. The report said HP would either lay off those workers or move them to other parts of the company.

HP in August announced it would consider spinning off its PC business. At the time, the company also announced it would discontinue its webOS devices business, specifically the TouchPad tablet and its webOS phones, a stark reversal for HP nearly 16 months after it bought Palm and the webOS software platform for $1.2 billion. HP executives at the time said all options are on the table for webOS, including selling the platform or licensing it.

Though webOS received acclaim for its slick user interface and Internet-focused design, both Palm and HP failed to gain traction with webOS products in a market dominated by the likes of the iPad, iPhone and various Android phones.

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

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