As HP Mulls Spinning Off PC Business, Plans to Keep webOS Remain

As Hewlett-Packard is considering its options to either sell or spin off its Personal Systems Group (PSG), the division that makes personal computers and PC hardware, leaked internal memos suggest that new changes to the webOS team will help to ensure that the mobile OS will remain with HP. The company is planning on splitting its webOS team into two separate divisions–hardware and software–in a move that mirrored what Palm did over a decade ago by splitting the company up into two parts to help license its Palm OS to outside companies, like Sony. Back in the Palm era, Palm’s hardware business was known as PalmOne and Palm Source became the group that worked on the OS; Palm later merged back into one entity to create the Pre and webOS.

According to the leaked memo, HP’s webOS hardware business will remain with the PSG division, which is unsurprising considering that the company already is exiting the hardware business for smartphones and tablets with the recent fire sale of remaining webOS inventory. Additionally, as the company is trying to spin off its PSG division, it looks like HP can care less about hardware, but software is another story.

The webOS software team will be grouped with the Office of Strategy and Technology. The shift shows that HP is interested in software moving forward as part of its strategy to focus on value-added services and eliminating the low-margin hardware business, which has become a commodity. It’s still unclear how webOS will evolve with HP’s strategy shift, but for now, the webOS software team will have access to the billions of dollars that HP has set aside for research and development.

Here are the leaked memo obtained by PreCentral:

Message from Todd Bradley

Earlier this month, I told you about our difficult but necessary decision to discontinue the development of our webOS hardware devices.

However, the webOS platform that powers these devices continues to demonstrate its ability to improve how our customers look up information, access entertainment and stay connected on the go. As you know, the company is investigating the best ways to leverage webOS software and grow its applications environment.

With this in mind, we have decided that we’ll be most effective in these efforts by having the teams in webOS software engineering, worldwide developer relations and webOS software product marketing join the Office of Strategy and Technology under Shane Robison. This change is effective immediately.

The remainder of the webOS team, under Stephen DeWitt, will continue to report into PSG; later today, Stephen will reach out to these teams with an update.

I am excited about the opportunity this move creates for all of HP.

Reorganizing the webOS software teams under OS&T allows us to fully investigate how we can utilize the webOS software platform. The pan-HP charter of OS&T provides a broad view of how we can optimize our technologies. In fact, it has proven to be a successful incubator of technologies; it is home to a team of senior technology experts devoted exclusively to exploring longer-term strategies for our technologies. Currently, OS&T is incubating the HP Cloud Services business units, Vertica and Business Solutions.

I would like to thank the teams moving to OS&T for their hard work, innovation and devotion to creating a differentiated customer experience. Their efforts are evident in the intuitive elegance of webOS, and they will not soon be forgotten.

Meanwhile, during this time of transition and internal analysis, we in PSG must continue to ensure that our customers, partners, colleagues and friends understand that we remain focused on creating amazing products, winning new business and showing the world why we continue to be the largest, most profitable PC company in the world.

Todd Bradley
Executive Vice President Personal Systems Group

Organizational Announcement: webOS Teams to Join OS&T

EVP, Chief Strategy and Technology Officer
Office of Strategy and Technology
TO/ OST Employees
SUBJECT/ Organizational Announcement: webOS Teams to Join OS&T

Two weeks ago we announced the transformation of HP for the future. As part of that change we made a very tough decision to exit the webOS hardware device business. At the same time we recognized the value inherent in the webOS software platform. Not only because of its elegant, intuitive interface, but because of our strategic focus on cloud, connectivity, services and software, and printing.

I’m pleased that the executive team has decided that the webOS software teams will be best served joining the Office of Strategy and Technology while we investigate how to leverage the webOS platform and its ecosystem. This move also supports the teams’ continued efforts with over-the-air updates and the application catalog.

As a result, the webOS software engineering, developer relations, and software product marketing teams will become a part of OS&T, effective immediately. Ari Jaaksi, senior vice president leading webOS software engineering, and Richard Kerris, vice president leading webOS worldwide developer relations, will report to me. Lee Ott, the senior director of webOS software product marketing, will report to Ari.

With our focus on business and technology strategy, OS&T will be able to provide these teams with the resources and support they need as we define the best monetization model. The webOS software employees join HP Cloud Services, Vertica, and Business Solutions as an incubating business group. However, while these teams will be joining OS&T we have decided not to initiate any integration activities. These teams will continue to operate under their current systems and processes until further notice.

The webOS software is still a great asset. I am excited with the opportunity we have ahead of us and I look forward to the success of the team as a part of OS&T. Please join me in welcoming them.