Hewlett-Packard’s announcement today that it will shut its WebOS operations and spin off its PC business is drawing some ridicule on Twitter. Among the witty cracks is a comment from Michael Dell, the chief executive of Dell, who wrote, “If HP spins off their PC business, maybe they will call it Compaq?”
That’s a reference to HP’s grand plan to become the world’s largest PC maker with the acquisition of Compaq Computer in 2001.
“HP….They are calling it a separation but it feels like a divorce,” Dell said in a follow-up tweet.
Clearly, the blogosphere is in the mood for piling it on and making fun of HP’s strategic retreat from tablets, phones and even PCs.
Rahul Sood reacted with disbelief to the HP decision. Sood sold his game PC company VoodooPC to HP during the Mark Hurd era, only to see it shut down. He left to join Microsoft, but was active on Twitter today.
“Only God can help HP if they spin the PC business off completely,” he tweeted. “I don’t see it happening.”
Sood said it is possible HP will license WebOS to other players such as HTC. He said he urged that plan while he was still at HP. In another tweet, he said, “Bah…I am really disappointed in HP.” In another tweet, he said, “People can say what they want about Mark Hurd. One thing for sure. He was a fighter and believed in keeping it together.”
Sood also said, “@michaeldell is snickering in his lair right now.”
Sood was clearly not speaking for Microsoft, which is still a big ally of HP’s in the PC business. And another tweeter noted that Microsoft is a big winner in HP’s decision, since HP will likely turn to Windows 8 for its tablets in the future.
A commenter named @laura_june wrote, “I feel like HP didn’t even try,” a comment on the fact that HP owned WebOS for only four quarters and pulled out of the market after its first major product turned out to be a flop.
Jeremy Littau (@jeremylittau) commented, “I find odd that HP killed its iPad killer two months after it shipped it. Not that it was any good, mind you.”
To be fair, HP was losing money on the WebOS, it knew that customers preferred the Apple product, and it faced years of work before it could make WebOS tablets into profitable products. Retreat seemed like a logical option under those conditions, even though the mobile computing market remains one of the most strategic to all tech companies.
A minority of commenters sympathized with HP, in a back-handed sort of way. Adam Parnes (@adamparnes) wrote, “HP made the right moves: it’s no Apple, so it shouldn’t even try.”
And what was HP itself tweeting while it was getting all of this criticism? “Singing by a campfire with friends,” in a tweet about the joys of Beats audio on HP computers and headsets.
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