back to article HP murders webOS tablets, phones

HP has announced that it will discontinue its webOS TouchPad and webOS phones, just weeks after the arrival of the TouchPad and a little more than a year after the company acquired the webOS mobile operating system from Palm in a $1.2bn purchase. In a press release floated before the company's quarterly earnings call, HP also …

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  1. NoneSuch
    FAIL

    Brilliant.

    Send 270,000 tablets to Best Buy, not have them sell well and instead of supporting your product with better advertising and offers you simply cancel the line.

    This is the problem with corporations today. No instant profit? Let's move onto something else then.

    1. Robert E A Harvey
      FAIL

      Aye

      But what else do they have in the locker? If they have to buy the 'move into something else' they really are bankrupt for ideas.

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Firesales ahoy

      I think those tablets will be sold eventually. After all they are still tablet devices that more or less do what they say albeit not at a price point that justifies buying them. So they'll get deep discounted to clear them out. I wouldn't be surprised if someone hacks Android onto it at some point either.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: Brilliant.

      “Send 270,000 tablets to Best Buy, not have them sell well and instead of supporting your product with better advertising and offers you simply cancel the line.

      This is the problem with corporations today. No instant profit? Let's move onto something else then.”

      Or releasing products that aren’t ready. In most of the reviews I read, the reviewer said there were a few niggles that really needed to ironed up (and these were people that thought it had potential and could be a winner). Also, there was a lack of available apps? What was the incentive for consumer to commit to a product and platform that is unproven and has issues? Particularly when there is a market leader (whether or not it deserves to be is another matter) like the iPad that's at a similar price point?

      It’s a little like RIM releasing the PlayBook when it isn’t able to used with for email (a function that RIM is synonymous with) unless you hook it up to a BlackBerry. Some of my mates manage retail stores and when they’ve had RIM sales representatives trying to push the PlayBook, who were asked questions such as ‘So when is email capability going to be added?’, the answer has been a vague ‘in the future.’ This, I'm reliably informed, doesn't make it a selling point to customers.

      As a recent ElReg article reported, the vast majority of punters are only interested, for better or worse, in an iPad. If you worked in retail and someone came in for an iPad, you’re going to have a hard job pushing them towards something else – particularly, if they’ve done a little research and have heard there are issues.

      As for giving it time, according to the AllThingsD article, Best Buy had lost patience – when there has been significant price cuts (in the case of the entry model, 20%) and the thing ain’t shifting, you know you’re trying to sell a pup. As that article said, the 25,000 sales figure might be “charitable” and it’s unlikely that those figures are net of returns. In Europe, around 12,000 have been shifted.

      It’s public knowledge that Best Buy couldn’t sell the things and when a retailer that size can’t at that reduced price point (and neither could Amazon), do you think there are going to be lots of other outlets ready to pick up the gauntlet?

      Now when Staples had a voucher that could get you another $100 off, they sold out – but this took the price to $299 or $399, depending on which model you went for. However, according to this article - http://www.devicemag.com/2011/07/04/hp-touchpad-costs-307-to-make-3g-ipad-2-built-for-less/ - each Touchpad cost $307 to make. Assuming this is roughly correct, take in how R&D, associated costs to get it to market and how much retailers will expect to make, you just can’t make money at the price point they were fyling off the Staples sheleves.

      Personally, I don’t think giving it time would have worked – the device needed a far better introduction; consumers aren’t that patient and will remember teething problems. Another Apple device is worth thinking about – the Newton. It shipped when the handwriting recognition didn’t work (as famously parodied on The Simpsons), this was soon sorted out, but it kept the reputation of being a dog - one that Jobs would put down when he returned to Apple, but in the meantime, one that consumers didn’t want to take home. There were other reasons, but people don't want to but pricey kit that holds future promise.

    4. Hardcastle the ancient

      downvotes?

      I can't see anything to downvote here. This is how corporations carry on

  2. mafoo
    FAIL

    Wow

    Wow, really, wow.

    What was the point in buying palm?

    Seems slightly extreme to cut your losses so soon after their first webOS product bombed, especially as they are about to release the TouchPad 4G - is anyone going to buy that now knowing its already dead in the water.

    Oh well.

    1. Solomon Grundy

      I Won't

      I wanted a TouchPad. I wanted a 4G model but don't want a "walking dead" product. Guess I'll have to pick something else for my moring coffee/news entertainment.

      1. Jemma Silver badge

        umm, why not?

        If all your gonna do is check the weather, the news and the like why on earth not buy it?

        A product doesnt suddenly dissolve in shame because development has been stopped for heavens sake, its still just as capable. That is of course assuming it will be built now and available. Point of fact, its probably a better buy, cheap prices.

        Ive got the E7 myself, the best phone ive had bar none. Accepts peripherals, accepts many of the 3rd/5th ed apps. Two to three day battery life. Fantastic screen. And more functionality than Android & idiotOnSlab combined. But its not easy or as pretty and it requires the use of a functional brain (at least for a little while) so people dont wanna.

        By all means buy an iTwerp or a An-drone. Its entirely your decision. But dont whine and wail like a Beirut fishwife when WebOS, Symbian and MeeGo go down faster that a Clinton intern. Theres a name for that, hypocrisy.

        I swear that if people actually researched their fondlebrick and fondleslab decisions properly and tested the devices they got before buying them, we'd all be packing smartphones with touch screens, physical keyboards, decent removable batteries, OTG and HDMI out, not to mention GPS and all the rest. Nope, we listen to the ads, buy the fondlebrick and spend the 18 month contract bitching how we now hate touchscreen keyboards.

        But I've digressed. If you have decided the WebOS tablet is the right product for you, that hasnt changed has it? HP shooting themselves in the head hasnt caused it to morph into the tablet equivalent of Dubya in drag? Nope I thought not, so wheres the issue?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Unhappy

          "If all your gonna do is check the weather, the news and the like why on earth not buy it?"

          For the same reason I wouldn't buy a functional Kaypro. It may serve for some time, and even be fun, but what if it needs support? What about upgrades? What (horror!) if I really like it and want it to do more?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Down

          hypocrit?

          "By all means buy an iTwerp or a An-drone. Its entirely your decision. But dont whine and wail like a Beirut fishwife when WebOS, Symbian and MeeGo go down faster that a Clinton intern. Theres a name for that, hypocrisy."

          I am a consumer. I'm on the market for something that serves my purposes, however fancy they may be, not to ensure the survival of companies that make badly dreamed/engineered/marketed products.

          You know, there may be a reason why they weren't selling as well as iPads. By the way, if you want to pose a logic argument, avoid silly name calling.

        3. Andrew Martin 1

          Apps and Support

          You're right: if the device does exactly what you need, out of the box, then it's fine.

          However, sooner or later you will want to install different software - new apps, for example. And those apps will not be available for that device.

          Worse, we have come to expect bug fixes - for security if nothing else - and these will not be available for an unsupported device. Of course, few hackers will be investigating vulnerabilities in WebOS - except perhaps disgruntled purchasers - so you may survive through obscurity. But immediate obsolescence is never a good thing.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          FAIL

          re: umm, why not?

          "I swear that if people actually researched their fondlebrick and fondleslab decisions properly and tested the devices they got before buying them, we'd all be packing smartphones with touch screens, physical keyboards, decent removable batteries, OTG and HDMI out, not to mention GPS and all the rest. Nope, we listen to the ads, buy the fondlebrick and spend the 18 month contract bitching how we now hate touchscreen keyboards."

          Nope, that might suit some people, but not all. Also, I know more people that are happy with their choice of product, than aren't. In any case...

          On the basis on various in-depth reviews of the Touchpad, there are intial teething problems (no surprise for a new piece of kit) and a distinct lack of apps, so if someone did their homework, I can't see they would be swayed into getting a Touchpad on the basis on Touchpad.

        5. Armando 123
          Devil

          Unit of measure

          "go down faster that a Clinton intern"

          Dear Editors of The Register,

          Can this be used as a unit of measure of acceleration in a gravitational field?

  3. fredfox
    Facepalm

    Words

    wow - HP fucked up something else with potential. I wonder what they'll do next. Maybe they'll buy Apple (hahahahahahaha)

    1. Synonymous Howard

      Who could afford to buy Apple anyway?

      Umm.

      1. chr0m4t1c

        Exxon Mobil

        But maybe not for much longer.

  4. Aaron Em

    Compaq, Palm, now what?

    I've never heard of 'Autonomy' -- though the "HP to acquire Autonomy" headline is amusing on at least two levels -- but I'm sure Fiorina's Folly will fuck 'em up all the same.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They sponsor the Mercedes F1 team

      money well spent, I think you'll agree

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And...

        I believe Autonomy (and in this case one of their product names which I forget) is also the Premier League Tottenham Hotspur sponsor/shirt logo. Which means it could go back to being HP which I believe it was a number of seasons ago. A bit strange that link really!

    2. CarlC

      Autonomy

      If it is who I think it is they are a knowledge management company that was originally started in the UK.,a good number of years back (in the mid 1990's I think). Within the last 6 months or so aquired Interwoven, the owners of the Worksite(formerly iManage) Document Management Platform, as well as their own range of CMS and Marketing delivery systems. I think they are primarily software but this all from memory so I stand to be corrected where wrong.

  5. Earl Jones Of Potatoes
    Childcatcher

    pissing around the pot

    in a way HP tried and knew they couldn't compete with iOS. Instead of making another empty promise they decided to take the "no pissing around the pot" approach and in a way, it's brave.

    some would argue that if a product doesn't sell it's cause it's not well advertised. If it sells well, it's because of a good advertising campaign. The truth is that a product sells because it is good. If they do not sell, they are not worth it even if billions are spent to make them look like pieces of heaven.

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Crap handsets

      There was nothing wrong with the OS really, it was the really mundane and average hardware that let them down.

      Tiny touchscreens, qwerty keys when most people have ditched them and seemingly slow progress in hardware development.

  6. tirk
    Unhappy

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    Poor old WebOS. Arguably the best mobile OS in some of the worst hardware, and with an owner that didn't understand the sector, it was never going to end well.

    Still, perhaps after the surprise Google/Motorola wedding, HTC or one of the other second-class Android wives may just think about buying it.

    1. dogged
      Go

      HTC...

      Now that's what I call a market disruption.

      And why not? Samsung have Bada. HTC taking webOS would seriously put the frighteners on a few people, mostly those named Brin, Page and Ballmer.

      1. Jazz Kilkullen
        Stop

        Because Palm OS was NOT in good shape when HP bought it.

        It was starved for resources, all the best employees had fled, and the software was far more problematic than people knew. It needed to be stabilized and solidified before HP tried slapping something on it and shoving it out the door, and HP didn't do this. (not surprising--if YOU were the head of Palm OS that had just been bought, would YOU tell your new owner about all the structural issues? I mean, assuming you were aware of them?)

    2. Armando 123
      Thumb Up

      Dang

      You may be right. Let me think out loud a second: imagine you own a cell phone company. Android looks bad now with the Googorola deal. iOS is unavailable. Windows Mobile, or whatever it's called, doesn't seem like a great option as its market share is hitting rock bottom and looking for pickaxes. Bada has issues and I doubt Samsung would license it.

      This just might make sense. I'm not saying it would work, but it just might make sense.

  7. Sean Baggaley 1

    Pity.

    I thought WebOS had a lot of potential. Here's hoping they can find a buyer for the technology as it doesn't deserve to end like this.

    I'm an Apple customer, but I believe competition is a good thing. That's how innovation happens.

    Guess it'll be Apple vs. Microsoft yet again.

  8. Adam Trickett
    Alert

    Is there anything else for HP to screw up?

    Is there anything left for them to screw up?

    I know the PC business isn't glamorous but it is profitable. HP are the largest PC firm I believe.

    The webOS stuff is cute but they should have put more money and effort into it if they really want to make it work. Buying a company only to dump it is just plain stupid.

    Itanium is dead in the water so even their Unix business can't have much life left in it.

    I suppose they'll just be expensive suited consultants, some dodgy software and the printer business left..

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Boffin

      RE: Is there anything else for HP to screw up?

      "Is there anything left for them to screw up?...." Well, they are still the largest IT company in the World, so I'd say there's plenty left that could be screwed up. Or made better.

      "......I know the PC business isn't glamorous but it is profitable. HP are the largest PC firm I believe....." Yes, hp leads the PC market, and makes reasonable profits, very good ones for the sector (by comparison, Lenovo is bragging about making $123m of $5.9bn revs in the PC market in the same quarter (Q2) that hp made $533m from $9.4bn, so hp is roughly four times as profitable from twice as big a turn-over). But Leo is an enterprise software guy, so anything non-enterprise was always going to be on the hitlist. WebOS and phones was easy for Leo to dump - the WebOS buy preceded Leo's arrival, so he can paint it as his predecessor's failure, and the phones haven't made good revs since the old days of the iPaqs. PCs are different - Leo can't deny they make good money, but they upset his "enterprise-software-is-Gawd" outlook, so he will spin it out. Funnilly, when Carly arrived at hp it was just in time to stop the OpenView bizz being split off from the rest of the company, which was probably the smartest thing she did for hp.

      ".....Itanium is dead in the water so even their Unix business can't have much life left in it....." Actually, Leo is likely to push the Itanium platform as it is exactly what he needs to sell his enterprise software on. The ESSN part of hp that flogs the Itanium-based Integrity servers and the storage products made $766m off $5.56bn in Q2, so it was more profitable off less revs than even the PC bizz. And the ESSN number was increasing whilst the PC number is relatively static. Leo knows that hardware and software sales can help each other, so he will want Integrity doing well to help the software number grow.

      ".......I suppose they'll just be expensive suited consultants, some dodgy software and the printer business left.." I actually worry that Leo will spin the printer bizz out with the PCs.

      1. asdf Silver badge
        FAIL

        I call BS

        >The ESSN part of hp that flogs the Itanium-based Integrity servers and the storage products made $766m off $5.56bn in Q2

        So you are saying they made over half the revenue of the PC side on the Itanic or is most of that the storage products and misc as I suspect and you lumped them together to make the Itanic not look like the dead horse it is.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          FAIL

          RE: I call BS

          I don't have a break out of how much was made just on Integrity, but I do know it grew year-on-year. Just go ask any old ex-Sun salegrunt how much fun it was selling his SPARC silo against a diversified hp that could do the storage, networking and monritoring software as well as the servers, all as one deal with one support arrangement. And PCs. Which I see as the problem - Leo should build up the software bizz before he starts cutting out the profitable PC bizz. Otherwise he risks beign the type of narrow-market failure that Sun became.

          /SP&L.

          1. asdf Silver badge
            Flame

            no motive

            except I love making fun of products that bomb horribly like the Itanium (wasn't x86_x supposed to be dead 5 years ago according to Gartner, wonder how much HP paid for that report) and the HP me too tablet (almost a M$ Kin size failure). Still yes HP makes shedloads of cash due to being diverse including the one of the biggest ink vendors. Burying SUN wasn't exactly hard they pretty much committed suicide with crap management.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Headmaster

        Largest IT company in the world?

        "Well, they are still the largest IT company in the World"

        In 2010, the former owners of the Thinkpad business (also the subject of a current Reg article) had about 100,000 more employees than HP, and they are still in the IT business.

        Just sayin'.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          FAIL

          RE: Largest IT company in the world?

          What, IBM hasn't laid them all off yet? Before your Big Blue sunglasses make you trip up and fall down the stairs, I suggest you take them off and look here:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_companies_by_revenue

          IBM is down at 57, only 28 places behind hp at 29. Enjoy!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Stop

            Define largest

            At the moment, Market cap. HPQ = 48.5B, IBM = 193.8B.

            2010 employee count HP = 325K, IBM = 427K.

            2010 net income HP = 8.8B, IBM = 14.8B.

            Revenue for 2010 was 100B for IBM, and 126B for HP, but IBM still managed to make more money.

            If it has more employees, higher market capitalization, and made more profit, I think it's fair to describe it as "larger." That's not a blue-coloured glasses opinion, it's just a normal definition of the word.

            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
              Happy

              RE: Define largest

              Hmmm, you're not convincing me here. So, in 2010, IBM made less revenue off more employees, but you think that was a good thing.....

              Either way, hp has a lot more product ranges than just PCs and phones, so the killing of the webOS devices (note - only the webOS devices, not the MS tablets) is not such a big deal as everyone wants to make out. If all hp did was make webOS phones then this would be a deathknell, but hp has fingers in many more pies. If all they did was make phones (like HTC) then it would be bad. If all they did was make consumer devices (like Apple) it would be pretty bad. But hp is massively diverse, so it's not really that bad.

              Interestingly, on the call that hp announced they'd kill the Touchpad they also (apparently) said they were still looking to make money out of webOS, which does imply they are looking at a license model.

              Or a Google/Apple patent troll model.

              1. toughluck
                WTF?

                @Matt Bryant

                Quite frankly, the last post is an insult to intelligence. Which of the three companies would you prefer to own (assuming you were looking for longevity):

                Company A, $100 bn revenue, $150 bn costs, $50 bn loss

                Company B, $80 bn revenue, $60 bn costs, $20 bn profit

                Company C, $50 bn revenue, $10 bn costs, $40 bn profit

                Going by your logic, you would believe company A has the best outlook of the three above.

    2. Spiff66

      That market is already taken

      That'll be IBM territory then. Except they'll flog you a mainframe too.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Happy

        RE: That market is already taken

        Exactly! That market is taken, by SAP, Oracle, IBM and Microsoft - mostly SAP and Oracle, and the IBM mainframe market is shrinking, but I understand IBM does sell quite a few software licences on hp servers. Leo is blithely dumping a profitable market (PCs) to concentrate on a market hp has very little presence in (enterprise business software), which is about as undiverse as you can get.

  9. GoingGoingGone
    Unhappy

    Just 5 hours

    can make a world of difference

    HP confirms faster, paler TouchPad tablet, 18th August 2011 15:00 GMT

    HP murders webOS tablets, phones, 18th August 2011 19:49 GMT

    Sad, if predictable, loss.

    1. Thomas 4

      Wow

      Just imagine if you were someone that bought a webOS tablet within that 5 hour timeframe, thinking of a bright, AppleDroid-free future.

  10. DJV Silver badge

    Hmmm...

    Wonder if it's going to be worthwhile picking one of these up for the peanuts they are now worth just in case they become collectors items later on!

  11. Sammy Smalls
    Childcatcher

    Maybe Nokia will buy WebOS

    They can build the hardware, they just need the software.....

    You never know.

    1. Goat Jam
      Facepalm

      Nokia to buy WebOS?

      There is not a chance in hades that Nokia would buy WebOS while they have that Microsoft stooge Elop at the helm.

      They already have Meego which they refuse to sell, why do you think they would go out and spend more money buying another Linux based OS when they are hellbent on drinking Redmond's Koolaid?

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      More likely

      Nokia has leapt in bed with Microsoft. If they're going to produce tablets it is more likely they'll be Windows branded tablets. I wouldn't be surprised if whatever deal Nokia & MS inked includes something about that too.

  12. Ilsa Loving

    I want one now!

    Ok, so now we wait for these things to flood the liquidation market, and then buy several to put in each room to serve as a convenient web based control panel to quickly check things like weather before you run out the door, etc.

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      You could just open the curtains...

      You could just open the curtains...

    2. Franklin

      A title is required

      "...and then buy several to put in each room to serve as a convenient web based control panel to quickly check things like weather before you run out the door,..."

      If they bundled in a control panel to let me quickly CHANGE the weather before I run out the door, I'd buy a dozen!

  13. Jemma Silver badge
    WTF?

    I thought the platform was supposed to be burning...

    *before* you jump off it into the fire...

    I mean seriously, how many idiots can you get in one industry?

    Google & Android depending on whom you listen to have either just kicked Apple in the nads so hard Steve Jobs balls are dangling from his ears like designer earrings... Or theyve committed ritual suicide.

    Apple are on the verge of realising that the collection of 12 year olds that bought the first iPhone are now older and want to be able to *use* that phone their own way, with their own decisions. Not to mention privacy of data.

    HP spend massive amounts on WebOS, and brought out credible and well accepted products. And then waited until their competitors are doing a maclaren and fighting amongst themselves. And then killed their only offering stone dead. Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Not to mention the chaps at Nokia... Ooh, we arent as pretty as the others, lets run round in circles flapping our hands, and hire someone from the doyenne of mobile devices. Microsoft - whose current offering has about as much chance of success as Elphinstone has of getting gazetted with the VC. Then, in a display of comedic ineptitude unrivalled in the annals of smartphone design, lets release arguably our best smartphones with an immediately prospective UI update that solves the popularity/UX issues and to put the tin hat on it, we'll kill that OS and its universally acclaimed successor to boot. And then, bitch about poor sales.

    Honestly, where on the planet do they find these people? Other companies spend their time trying to avoid bankrupcy. This lot seem to run leap and vault towards it as if its the ambrosia of the Gods and world domination combined.

    You know, if someone tells me tomorrow that HP have sold WebOS to Nokia I wouldnt be in the least surprised. It beggars belief that anyone so apparently gormless can make it to the level of executive without being found out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Collection of 12 year olds?

      What planet are you on?

      12 year olds on my planet have nowhere near enough cash to splurge on a several hundred dollar phone.

      Not even close.

      You need to grab yourself a brown paper bag and breathe in and out in it for a bit.

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