HP pulls out of the tablet and mobile market

Hewlett-Packard is closing down its WebOS hardware operations, effectively killing off its TouchPad tablet device and smartphones.

It's part of a more wide-ranging review of the company's business which will also see it looking for a way to spin of its personal computer division, although it will continue to make servers and other products for the business sector.

The move comes only a year after HP bought ailing handheld device maker Palm, with CEO Leo Apotheker saying that 'Our TouchPad has not been gaining enough traction in the marketplace [so] we have made the difficult to shut down the WebOS hardware operations'.

HP's mobile products have been struggling in a market increasingly dominated by Apple's iPhone and iPad, along with Android-toting smartphones and tablets such as Samsung's Galaxy range. HP's purchase of Palm for $1.8bn (around £1.2bn) last year was seen as an attempt to regain market share, Palm having been a pioneer in the handheld computing market.

However, since then sales of iOS and Android products have kept on growing, leading HP to take a decision just six months after it flatly denied such suggestions as 'irresponsible reporting'.

However, the company says it will 'continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward', while at the same time announcing its $10bn takeover of software company Autonomy.

Furthermore, it's exploring 'strategic alternatives' for its Personal Systems Group, which includes its PC operations, 'including the exploration of the separation of its PC business into a separate company through a spin-off or other transaction.'

Although PSG is the world's leading producer of personal computers, with revenues in excess of $41bn last year, it's thought the profits delivered by the division don't match up to its sales position.

Apotheker says that 'In March we outlined a strategy for HP, built on cloud, solutions and software to address the changing requirements of our customers, shaped heavily by secular market trends that are redefining how technology is consumed and deployed.

'Since then, we have observed the acceleration of these market trends, which has led us to evaluate additional steps to transform HP to meet emerging opportunities. We believe the acquisition of Autonom, combined with the exploration of alternatives for PSG, would allow HP to more effectively compete and better execute its focused strategy.'

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Andrew has written about audio and video products for the past 20+ years, and been a consumer journalist for more than 30 years, starting his career on camera magazines. Andrew has contributed to titles including What Hi-Fi?, GramophoneJazzwise and Hi-Fi CriticHi-Fi News & Record Review and Hi-Fi Choice. I’ve also written for a number of non-specialist and overseas magazines.