HP Kills WebOS Phones,Tablets (Including The TouchPad)

HP has announced that it is killing off its line of webOS devices. A terse line in a press release from the company today read: "HP reported that it plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones".

WebOS phones are great devices, much beloved by users, but they haven't sold well. It seemed like good news for webOS when HP bought Palm, but despite HP's clout, the phones still failed to catch on. There weren't enough apps. There weren't enough updates. And consequently, there weren't enough users. It was already clear that webOS was in very, very much trouble. Especially after Jon Rubinstein's recent departure.

It's huge news. It means that the smartphone market just became a four-way race between iOS, Android, Blackberry and WP7. It's also one less OS in the burgeoning tablet market, which is really just getting off the ground. And likely explains the recent price drop on the TouchPad. It also comes on the heels of reports earlier today that HP is spinning off its PC business.

I have to say I'm rather disheartened. Not only because I thought webOS was great, but also because it means fewer choices for consumers. HP had the muscle to do something great with webOS, but it never did. And of course it's sad to see the company that essentially created Silicon Valley folding up its tent and packing it in like this.

Update: webOS may still have a future, just not one that runs on HP hardware. A cryptic tweet from HP VP Richard Kerris notes that "webOS is an awesome software platform and now we can explore the best hardware partner for it."

Update: On a call to discuss this past quarter's earnings HP CEO Léo Apotheker lamented that "webOS devices have not gained enough traction" with consumers, and that the hardware would be wound down in Q4 of this year.

Update: HP CFO Cathie Lesjak made the point that webOS would have required "significant investment over the next five years, generating risk without any real rewards," which, uh, that's what happens every time you introduce a new product?

Update: Apotheker just reiterated that webOS itself isn't dead (although what is a soul without a body?):

"We are looking at all of our strategic options concerning the software… we will be looking at all of the options from our devices, to third devices, to other manufacturers… We will be looking at all possible business models from licensing to other possibilities…"

What kind of future does a licensed webOS mean? Probably not much of one; what kind of manufacturer would rather pay for webOS than pick up Android for free? [BusinessWire]



    Josh Topolsky used to rant about WebOS on the Engadget Shows and I cant say I was anywhere near as excited as he was about it. Wont be something I'll miss...

      lol, he continues to rant about WebOS on the 'This Is My Next' podcasts.

        I see his posts on facebook but have never clicked on the links...So I'm guessing its turned from how awesome it is to how sad it is that its been canned?

    They really should have pushed the "Pre's" cheese cutting option...would have been marketing GENIUS!

    I might buy a Touchpad when the clearance sales hit $100.

      Good idea! Hopefully they'll unlock the bootloader so I can stick Windows 8 on it :p

    The new Palm (now gone) and HP should both hang there heads in shame. Being a palm user for many years I was a willing customer when the Pre was announced... but they never released it in Australia. I bought an iphone 3G, an Android phone and an iphone 4 and still no webOS phones released down under. You cannot sell something if you do not offer it for sale.

      Lack of retail availability never stopped anyone from buying them. The lack of a useful ecosystem did.

        Excellent points both.

        I bought a 1st generation Pre from overseas. Had to get it from spain as they made it VERY hard to purchase one anywhere else.

        Then, when I got it, it required all sorts of tricks to be able to use in australia, and even then there were no paid apps for me, as I had an aussie credit card (shades of early-2000s itunes).

        So yeah, it was difficult to import. But even more difficult to use because they had not done a good ecosystem.

        Also, the hardware wasn't great. But the OS... oh... it's still the best phone, and the best OS (mobile or otherwise) I have EVER used.

        99.9% of the people out there who say they don't think it's that great are people who have never actually had a good go at it. A huge amount of die-hard apple fans admit loving it. Though the iphone always won out hardware wise and app wise.

          Agree with both of your points. I toyed with the idea of buying via the Internet but the issues some had getting to work along with my stupid belief that organisations as global as Palm and/or HP could work out how to sell products in more than a few countries at once left me with no option but to give my money to Apple and Samsung.

          It will be a sad end to a great company if this is the last of Palm/webOS. Hoping another player steps up to the plate... and offers it WORLDWIDE.

    Lack of undertanding what they purchased and the market segment they were entering ultimately killed off WebOS. Everything HP did in relation to it seemed to be half baked. Phones that were never delivered initially damaged the brand (pre-HP) then the trend continued under HP. Then the Touchpad... Possibly the worst Marketing campaign ever... Total amateur hour... Something that might have to be looked at on a show like the Gruen transfer... It was that bad. The ecosystem buzzword also seemed to complete befuddle HP. With any luck I might be able to buy one of these for $100-$150 bucks before the stock of them is 'recycled'. Have a play with it and hope that WebOS survives as an Open source project. You never know.

      + a billion

      you've hit the nail on the head Big Windows.

      Keep in mind, webos itself isn't officially 'dead'. HP just said they're not making any devices. Take that as you will.

    Even Russel Brand cant help market a terribly designed product. HP really needs.to start conforming because the creativity they are bringing lately like the touch pc aint veey innovative

      Ever held or used a touchpad? Was it really terribly designed? Was pretty much a plastic tribute to the Ipad 1. The OS was great just terribly optimised... Just ask Android it is a rip-off of the card based interface. It is also interesting that you should say conform in reference to market currently owned by an Apple product. Apple's implication in it's 1984 Superbowl add was that everyone was conformist and it was time for something new. Ironically, or is it more magically... Apple has evolved into a company that wants you to conform and if you don't shoots you down as quickly and heavy handedly (in a legal sense) as possible.

        @ Big Windows
        "Was pretty much a plastic tribute to the Ipad 1. The OS was great just terribly optimised… Just ask Android it is a rip-off of the card based interface."

        I could be wrong, and please correct me if I am, but I thought that the "card based interface" came first in WebOS on the Palm Pre?

      As Steve Jobs would say in response to how the Touchpad was received... No biggie!

    Typical HP. They are in a bad way and I would be selling their stock.

    Sounds like a company managed by the traditional business school morons who haven't the first idea about the market they're actually in or the products they sell.
    No matter what they cease making or "spin-off" they only way they'll succeed is by sheer luck and circumstance beyond their control. Those idiots only know how to make money by cutting jobs, tax schemes and market manipulation.

    Poor HP.

    i bought a Pre from Germany and bought it back into Australia because i really wanted one because of the full keyboard and after the hype that was generated here (SMH etc). Of course Palm didn't offer it for sale here (dumb move). It worked great, but at the end of the day, the lack of support by palm and the inherant bugs (rebooting, constantly chiming whilst charging on the touchstone) made me move to Android (since i hate Apple). Palm were just too late to market even overseas with the Pre. HP buying Palm was the stupidest move ever, after Palm's loyal users (i had a Treo 650 as well) had well and truly been pissed off by the Palm 'support' and would never buy a Palm or WebOS product again.

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