HP CEO: “We Didn’t Buy Palm to Be in the Smartphone Business”

Not too long ago, a lot of people were pleasantly surprised when HP announced it would buy smartphone maker Palm. While Palm launched a very well-received mobile operating system, the hardware it ran on was of questionable quality, leading to lower-than-expected sales and thus financial problems. Now that HP has bought Palm, we’re certainly going to see the webOS running on top-notch smartphones, right? Well, not if it’s up to HP CEO Mark Hurd. Update: This gives a slightly different angle.

In a speech at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch technology conference, HP CEO Mark Hurd made a few very surprising comments about the Palm acquisition. It’s no secret that HP is looking into putting the webOS on anything from tablets to printers, but in what is surely quite surprising, HP is not interested in the smartphone business.

Hurd said that HP is not going to “spend billions of dollars trying to go into the smartphone business; that doesn’t in any way make any sense”.

“We didn’t buy Palm to be in the smartphone business. And I tell people that, but it doesn’t seem to resonate well,” Hurd explained, “We bought it for the IP. The WebOS is one of the two ground-up pieces of software that is built as a web operating environment. We have tens of millions of HP small form factor web-connected devices. Now imagine that being a web-connected environment where now you can get a common look and feel and a common set of services laid against that environment. That is a very value proposition.”

Mr Hurd, maybe it doesn’t “resonate well” because it sounds totally ludicrous? The webOS has been designed from the ground-up to be a smartphone operating system, and in that capacity, it has received raving reviews from all corners of the world. The problem has always been the hardware, and what do you know, HP is a hardware company! It seems like such a no-brainer to ditch HP’s completely irrelevant iPaq Windows Phone business in favour of Palm’s that saying anything to the contrary indeed wouldn’t “resonate well”.

I’m just hoping that Hurd’s being misquoted here or something, because I’m not exactly looking forward to my first confrontation with the webOS being on a darn printer with ink made out of unicorn blood.


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