HP’s never had it easy when it comes to webOS, purchased when it acquired Palm last year. Both Palm’s earlier webOS devices, and those since released by HP, have struggled to find their niche in a heavily-saturated smartphone marketplace. Lately, though, things have been looking a little up, with the Pre 3 quietly launching in Europe, and a recent poll showing customer tablet preference for the TouchPad as second only to the iPad. Whatever momentum may have been building is now shot, with the company revealing today that it plans to cease development of webOS tablets and smartphones.
The company’s statement comes as part of a larger restructuring goal centered around its plans for the acquisition of Autonomy Corporation. The fate of webOS has only been briefly mentioned so far, with HP saying that it plans to make a later webOS-specific announcement.
It’s clear that HP is done with webOS hardware, but what about the software assets? We’ve already heard the company would be open to licensing the OS to interested hardware manufacturers. Today HP said that it would “continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software.” Just what that means isn’t yet obvious; it could be talking about licensing, or working on making the webOS IP more attractive with the aim to sell it off. Hopefully, this is just the sort of thing HP will address in its longer statement, along with whether the company will even bother launching the Pre 3 in the US now.