Mobile

HP tells employees it’s “not walking away from WebOS”

NOTE: GrowthBeat -- VentureBeat's provocative new marketing-tech event -- is a week away! We've gathered the best and brightest to explore the data, apps, and science of successful marketing. Get the full scoop here, and grab your tickets while they last.

In a move likely meant to stop employees from jumping out of windows, HP webOS VP Stephen DeWitt held a secret meeting with staff in the division yesterday to confirm that there is still a future for the OS, This Is My Next reports.

“We are not walking away from webOS,” he said while discussing plans about the software’s future. DeWitt later added, “Clearly, we don’t have all the answers today.”

HP rocked the technology world yesterday by announcing that it would both spin off its PC hardware business and give up entirely on webOS hardware, including the recently released TouchPad tablet. The company said in its earnings call yesterday that sales of the TouchPad, which was released a month ago, weren’t meeting expectations.

HP VP Todd Bradley pointed out in the meeting that webOS is currently designed to work with Qualcomm chipsets, which makes it difficult to license the software to companies like HTC or Samsung. But he noted that potential licensees would like to see webOS on different hardware, hinting that the company may spend time making the software more open to new hardware.

Dewitt didn’t shy away from saying that there would be staff reductions, but he reiterated that HP is committed to the platform. Dewitt and Bradley argued that HP couldn’t keep releasing “non-competitive products in the market.”

It’s tough to read the truth about HP’s real plans for webOS from these statements, but I suspect the company will find some way to make its $1.2 billion purchase of Palm worthwhile. I’m hoping it can find success licensing webOS; otherwise we’ll see yet another bidding war for HP’s phone business. Given that Palm’s PDAs were the precursors to the modern smartphone, plenty of companies may find its patent portfolio tempting.