After HP pulled out all the stops with a highly publicised launch for the Touchpad, we thought that the company would finally put its foot on the gas and develop both WebOS and the devices that run it. Instead the Touchpad should have been called the touch paper as it served only one purpose, to accelerate the demise of HP's ambitions as a consumer hardware vendor.
HP cited poor Touchpad sales as the reason for dumping its WebOS hardware devices, but what was it thinking? Launching a tablet that still had relatively few applications, running an operating system that few knew about, and going up against the darling of the consumer electronics world, Apple, it couldn't have thought that the launch would yield round-the-block queues and worldwide pandemonium.
The truth is that HP never had its heart into WebOS. Its recent history clearly shows a company going through the motions after spending upwards of $1bn to acquire Palm. Internally HP staff knew HP was behind the curve when it came to the Touchpad, with one insider admitting to The INQUIRER that HP's WebOS devices were months too late.
For HP poor Touchpad sales is just the excuse it wants to show shareholders that it is somehow doing a good thing by dumping its investment now. From the suits' point of view, HP has cut its losses rather than having wasted a $1bn investment in trying to get into the smartphone and tablet business.
The WebOS faithful are a rare breed. Unlike Apple or Microsoft fanbois, they love the operating system, but most widely acknowledge the hardware faults and often give realistic appraisals of their WebOS smartphones. Reading through comments on Precentral the frustration is clearly evident. Why doesn't HP license out WebOS to handset vendors that could do a better job of creating devices that people yearn for? An HTC Sensation or a Samsung Galaxy S II running WebOS is the dream.
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