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HP dumps WebOS, picks up Autonomy, wants to sell its PC business

Everything changes in Palo Alto
Fri Aug 19 2011, 09:20

MAKER OF EXPENSIVE PRINTER INK HP went wild on the announcement front last night and revealed that it will buy enterprise search firm Autonomy, drop WebOS and look to sell off its PC business.

These announcements, we think, are so huge that HP should have hired a barge, bought a load of fireworks and travelled the waterways of the country shouting about them.

It did not though, and perhaps this was because these massive changes were always on the cards. HP CEO Leo Apotheker came from the German software firm SAP and might rather not deal with hardware, or unpredictable tablet software like WebOS, and be much more comfortable with boring, safe and high margin enterprise software.

In fact, in the conference call announcing these changes, Apotheker stamped his name on the decisions. "I am taking ownership for these decisions and investments," he said.

"Our TouchPad has not been gaining enough traction in the marketplace. We have made the difficult but necessary decision to shut down the WebOS hardware operations."

Although this bit of news makes HPs purchase of Palm for its smartphone and tablet designs look like a waste of money, the company presumably expects to get more bang for its buck from Autonomy, for which it will pay £7.1bn.

The intended shift out of HP's traditional PC business and the lurch away from competing in tablets and smartphones are acknowledgements of how much impact the latter has had on the former's sales. Apparently unable to compete profitably in either area, it seems that HP has decided to bow out gracefully.

"Today is about transforming HP for the future," Apotheker said. "The tablet effect is real... Continuing to execute our current device approach in the market space is no longer in the interest of HP."

Michael Dell, who we can imagine is also not 'in the interest of HP' greeted the news with a couple of stingers on his Twitter account.

"If HP spins off their PC business....maybe they will call it Compaq?", he said, and then, "HP.... They are calling it a separation but it feels like a divorce". µ


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