HP to make decision on webOS by early December; sale may be contingent upon HP getting webOS for printers (what else?)
We’re still pretty much in the dark about what HP is going to do with webOS. Our suspicion is that they’re going to keep it, but we won’t know for certain until HP CEO Meg Whitman finishes her “holistic” review of what’s left of the webOS business. She told webOS Global Business Unit employees earlier this month that they were still evaluating, and expected to make a decision in “three-to-four weeks,” which put the decision time right around the transition between November and December. In an interview with Bloomberg yesterday following HP’s quarterly and annual fiscal announcements, Whitman repeated that stance, saying that the company will make a decision on what to do with webOS “by early December,” with an overall strategy presentation to investors to come early next year.
So what’s taking so long? According to VentureBeat, it all comes down to two words: webOS printers. Yeah, that long lost expanded implementation of webOS that HP was touting back when they bought Palm a little over a year-and-a-half ago. VentureBeat reports that HP is so entranced by the idea of webOS printers that having the right to cheaply license back webOS for use on printers has become a sticking point in negotiations.
Yeah. Printers. Come on, HP, it’s time to move on. The printer is a dumb terminal that outputs data onto paper. Nothing more. We’ve been puzzled by the idea of a webOS printer since the beginning. We totally get the need for an integrated ecosystem of products, but what does webOS bring to the table for printers? It would allow them to stand alone, which sort of defeats the purpose of an ecosystem. Time to move on, HP. Connected printers: good. ‘Smart’ printers: bad.
There’s also another potential purchaser for webOS reported to be in the running. This time around VentureBeat’s sources indicate that Qualcomm is still considering a purchaser (despite denying that back in September) and that rival chip maker Intel has “just begun discussions with HP.” Now that could be interesting. Intel’s gone down the proprietary OS road before, and it didn’t end well for Moblin/Meego. Of course, webOS has marginally higher name recognition than Meego ever will, plus it comes with a small but dedicated developer and user base. But is that enough for Intel to succeed where both Palm and HP failed? Or maybe Intel just wants the patents.