updated 06:05 pm EDT, Mon October 10, 2011
HP may settle fate of webOS group this week
HP may be choosing what to do with its webOS team this week, a rumor purported on Monday. A source within HP told an unusual choice for an outlet, AppleInsider, that the company would say whether it would sell off or spin out the webOS group. It's unclear if this was directly attached to HP's known plans to review its PC unit's future before the end of the month or if the two would head in separate directions.
The PC builder has so far only said it would end webOS hardware. Software would still exist, although it would be relegated to printers, possibly dual-boot PCs, and other non-mobile devices. Analysts and others have criticized the move as potentially gutting the business by relegating it to niche uses and forcing the staff to abandon work it had done on the TouchPad Go, touch-only webOS phones, and others that might have had reach.
If the division leaves at all, a sale is considered the most viable prospect. Companies like Samsung have actively turned it down, although Amazon is rumored interested. Getting the OS would let any acquirer have a modern mobile OS while avoiding Microsoft's frequent Android patent licensing demands.
A spinoff could be the riskiest. HP bought Palm in 2010 partly because the smartphone pioeer was in a financially dangerous situation. A separate company could get funding from HP to start, but it would have to turn a profit much sooner and would largely be in a worse position than before, without as much market share and a sense of abused trust.
Recently ousted HP CEO Leo Apotheker blamed the iPad both for the effect on webOS and the PC.