updated 11:40 pm EDT, Sat September 3, 2011
HP to move webOS group into research
A pair of leaked memos sent out to HP's webOS team has shown that HP may have more of an active role for the platform than first thought. The webOS Global Business Unit's software side will be folded into the Office of Strategy and Technology, where it will directly feed into the research and development section of the company. HP considers the section an "incubator," PreCentral learned, and would be getting some of the added attention and resources that cloud services are getting.
Hardware will remain under the Personal System Group that also handles PCs. HP has already said it planned to wind down webOS hardware in the fall and isn't expected to resume work in the near future.
The viability of webOS is still considered in doubt. Although HP plans to keep it for non-mobile devices, many expect it to lose some of its already diminished profile in the public eye without having phones or tablets. HP may also have difficulty finding a willing partner to license the code. Samsungturned it down, and few others have the opportunity or incentive to choose something besides an in-house OS, Android, or Windows Phone.
For the one-time Palm team, the reorganization is a repeat of what occurred in 2003, when Palm forked into the phone- and PDA-focused palmOne and PalmSource handling PalmOS. The strategy, as it has in other areas, didn't work as it hurt the once well-known integration that gave it Apple-like stature while making it difficult to get back to that level of polish and control. Palm didn't have a truly self-developed OS again until webOS in 2009, when it tried to emulate an iPhone-like strategy and even had former Apple executive Jon Rubinstein as its CEO.