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HP Earnings: Hey, Let's Can the PC Division -- and WebOS As Well

That was fast. Earlier today, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) was a big PC maker with a large but underutilized investment in webOS software from the former Palm. Now it not only plans to get rid of its PC division and buy software vendor Autonomy for $10 billion -- it's also going to shut down operations on webOS and look for "strategic alternatives" for the software.

HP got webOS when it acquired Palm in April 2010 for $1.5 billion -- during the reign of former CEO Mark Hurd, let's remember, so no one blames current CEO Léo Apotheker for past mistakes.

As I mentioned just yesterday, HP has had no luck trying to sell webOS devices. Management started with the wrong type of product -- a tablet -- and didn't build consumer interest through smartphones, which do enough different things that few people really care what operating system they run.

HP had enormous ambitions, and hoped to create an ecosystem that would span PCs, tablets, smartphones, printers, and, probably, even networking equipment. But to make that work in corporations, where HP really wants to do business, would require a customer to standardize on all HP-brand equipment. There was simply no way any smart business would make itself entirely dependent on a single vendor.

So, one year and billions of dollars later, HP has literally nothing to show for its efforts. I wouldn't be surprised if the company focused on selling the Palm patent portfolio ... possibly for a lot more money than HP spent on the company in the first place. Thank heavens for tech bubbles that droppeth as the gentle monetary rain from heaven.


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