HP will make Windows 8 tablets, no WebOS plans yet
Hewlett-Packard announced Thursday that it has decided to keep its PC business, which is the world's largest, after considering a spinoff of its "personal services group."
Such as separation was first proposed in August by HP's then-Chief Executive Leo Apotheker, who was ousted in September in favor of former EBay CEO Meg Whitman. Whitman and HP have decided to stick with PCs.
But what about tablets? And what about HP's WebOS operating system, which also went under a strategic review in August?
Whitman addressed those questions in a call with analysts Thursday after breaking the news that HP PCs were here to stay, saying that HP would build tablets running Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 operating system.
Windows 8, as the Technology blog has reported, will run on PCs as well as tablets.
"We're at the beginning stages of a new segment in personal computing," Whitman said of tablets in the call. She also said that she doesn’t believe it’s too late for HP to succeed in the tablet market and that “the work we do with Microsoft is extraordinary compelling."
Whitman said in the call that HP's Windows 8 tablets would launch sometime next year and that the company would be narrowing its focus to help the company succeed not just next year, but also in 2013, 2014 and the future.
"One of my observations is that HP tries to do a lot of things," she said. "And I am big believer in doing a small number of things really, really well -- set them up, knock them down, set them up, knock them down."
However, Whitman said, HP won't be announcing any of those plans or new products before the end of November, when its next earnings report will come out.
Todd Bradley, executive vice president of HP's personal systems group, said HP has never considered giving up on tablets or wavering from producing Windows tablets.
HP has in fact already produced a Windows tablet -- the Slate 500, which sold exclusively to businesses for $800 upon launch. HP's only consumer tablet to date was the HP TouchPad, which ran WebOS and was killed off in August under Apotheker's reign.
As for WebOS' future, well HP is still figuring that out, Bradley said.
"We are continuing to focus on Microsoft-based tablet that we have and one that will develop on Windows based," he said. "I think from a WebOS perspective that's kind of the next piece of work to complete.... The whole team of Meg, Cathie [Lesjak], myself, John Visentin are working very, very hard and as quickly as we can to make the right decisions about that product."
One thing HP isn't still trying to figure out is how important tablets are to its future, Bradley said.
"I think we need to be in the tablet business," he said. "And we are certainly going to be there with Windows 8, and so we are going to be make another run at this business.... We're going to make a decisions about the long-term future of WebOS within HP over the next couple of months.
"And as soon as we make that decision we will let you know on that. Because many people have said to me, 'Well, isn't the WebOS decision just completely tied to [personal services group]?' The answer to that is actually no. WebOS has obviously used in the PSG business, but also in other businesses that we have. So it's actually -- we have to make a more holistic decision around WebOS."
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: An HP TouchPad on display at a Best Buy store in East Palo Alto, Calif. Credit: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg