HP May Shut Down WebOS After All. What Does it Mean?

Mike Halsey MVP
Oct 29, 2011
Updated • Oct 29, 2011

2011 has not been a good year for HP's WebOS tablet operating system.  The year began with the company praising the product they had acquired when they bought Palm but there then followed the sudden announcement of the dropping of the TouchPad, the first WebOS tablet only seven weeks after it went on sale.  Now there's talk that the company may shut down their WebOS division for good.

According to a report by NeoWin an unnamed HP employee has been quoted as saying "There's a 95 (percent) chance we all get laid off between now and November, and I for one am thinking it's for the best."

In the last couple of months several companies have expressed an interest in buying WebOS, and as a TouchPad owner I can say it's a remarkably capable and usable tablet OS.  So far nothing has come of it and HP haven't given any indications that they would wish to sell it.

But could the company just kill it without selling it?  While unlikely this is a possibility and it begs the question where does this leave existing TouchPad owners?

Some people will install Android on it, and I suppose this is always the nuclear option for some.  Many people however will have no idea how to perform such an operation and will be left with a device that will no longer be supported.  In it's simplest form this just means that the operating system won't be refined and developed over time.  At it's worst it means that any bugs and flaws in the system that could be exploited by others won't be fixed.

Even if WebOS is sold it will be a very significant amount of time before the new owners can begin rolling out updates.  In short this is very bad news for TouchPad owners generally if the rumour turns out to be true.

To add weight to this, HP announced this week that they will be producing Windows 8 tablets for 2012, and we can assume they are already testing prototype hardware now.  It's even been rumoured the TouchPad hardware might live on with Windows 8 on board, though this is unlikely.

Of equal concern is what will happen to owners of the HP smartphones that are also running WebOS.  These people will need security updates and patches more than tablet owners, because of the direct billing capabilities built into phones.  These people will need firm answers from HP, and pretty soon.

HP has previously said it was committed to WebOS, though the company has changed its mind so much in recent months that nobody would really believe them now whatever they said.  Only a couple of months ago they were talking about offloading their entire PC division, but now they've decided that they would really rather hang on to it.  This is company with serious decision-making issues!

For now we've just had another update to WebOS rolled out.  I love my TouchPad and wouldn't want it to be the last.  WebOS is extremely capable and has huge amounts of potential.  In my view it is quite simply the finest tablet operating system available currently.

It's such a shame then that it's been so poorly managed.  Do you have a WebOS phone or tablet?  What do you think about this rumour?


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  1. Maggie J said on November 4, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    I have a Pre phone and the touchpad (16g) and am a die hard fan: the last update that allows blue tooth connection to any phone has been great. The blue tooth has a great range, so when my phone is downstairs in my bag and I’m upstairs, it’s so convenient to take and make calls. Also, I flip to my work IPad and can’t stand the clunky navigation so have literally stopped using it: having all my notifications right on the page I’m on, easy to see what’s open and the true multi-tasking is so wonderful. It deeply saddens me that such a premier product that if executed well, could have easily been a true competitor to the IPad….was so mismanaged and now may be buried so that someone else can’t execute on that opportunity (and thus become HPs new tablet’s competitor). Everyone I let play with the touchpad, even die hard apple fans, love it at first touch.
    What a terrible shame…

  2. DeadTechnology said on October 29, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    Say it with me guys – “Research”


    1. Robert Palmar said on October 30, 2011 at 4:24 am

      That was just published. Dating after this article.
      It is impossible to research unpublished information.

      Todd Bradley says “how we best utilize WebOS
      software assets is yet to be decided at HP”.

      Todd’s response to Meg Whitman’s statement that
      HP will be deciding the future WebOS in the
      next two months is that he agrees.

      Indicating everything is on the table.

      If HP has already decided to kill WebOS
      or sell WebOS they are not about to reveal
      that to a journalist now and any “rumour” will
      be summarily denied even if it happened to be true.

  3. Robert Palmar said on October 29, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Unfortunately, I tend to believe the rumour is true.
    The major changes in top management at HP are the reason.
    Spinning off the PC business and supporting WebOS are just two
    of the proposals of the prior CEO which Meg Whitman will be reversing.

    I think it is most unfortunate for users since I agree WebOS
    seems to be the most capable tablet OS at the present time.

    I do think it could be killed without being sold.
    Just as HP does not see WebOS as a viable player going
    forward (wrongly so — it could be) other firms will feel likewise.
    It may not be sold at more than can be gained by writing off the loss.

  4. murlidhar said on October 29, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    I am still ready to pay $99 USD for the tablet if it again goes for sale .
    If there are any discounted HP touchpads on online for purchase please do let me know : )

    1. Mike Halsey (MVP) said on October 29, 2011 at 7:45 pm

      @murlidhar BestBuy have some going on sale from November 1st for $149. These are the 32Gb version. You can find more information here http://pr.bby.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=244152&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1623378&highlight=

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