Whoa. Bloomberg is reporting that HP plans to spin off its PC and hardware division while also spending $10 billion to buy Autonomy and become an enterprise solutions company. It’s definitely still a rumor but it appears to have some credibility. If HP spins off its hardware, what would this mean for webOS?
As you know, HP purchased Palm last year for $1.2 billion and many thought this could be a perfect match: webOS was a good operating system that just needed the types of resources that HP could provide. Heck, many thought HP could potentially make an end-around Microsoft’s Windows with webOS. It hasn’t quite been a match made in heaven though, as the HP Veer and the TouchPad haven’t achieved critical or commercial success.
Still, even though many were disappointed with the first offerings, HP’s size and strength gave a lot of hope for webOS moving forward because the company planned to put in on everything including computers, cars and more. While an independent PC/hardware HP would still be a considerable force, it definitely wouldn’t have the coffers that the larger HP would have.
In many ways, HP is pulling an IBM: transitioning away from hardware to the higher-profit margin enterprise solutions market. If HP really believes that webOS is the cat’s pajamas that will change the world, I’m not sure if it makes this move. That’s not a great sign for the platform.
The other side is that an independent HP would have to go all in with webOS and the mobile market. While the laptop and computer business will continue to go strong for a while, smartphones, tablets and connected devices are definitely the future and HP’s webOS will need to make a larger mark. The company has already talked about licensing webOS to other companies and I sincerely believe that partnering with HTC could be the shot in the arm that webOS needs.
HP reports its earnings later tonight and the rumor says the split could be announced at the same time. You can be sure that we’re watching this.