HP to drop PC business, WebOS and Palm Phones.

In a pretty monumental development for tech-nerds today, HP is dropping its WebOS and Touchpad as well as spinning off its consumer PC business. If you will recall, HP purchased the then nearly defunct Palm for its WebOS to try and craft it into an alternative platform to Android and iOS. Apparently, they think it’s a stinker now and isn’t going to go anywhere so they’re dropping it like a bad habit. The spinning off of the consumer PC business is interesting, however, given HP’s acquisition of Compaq a decade ago. Compaq specialized in consumer PCs and it was thought that then CEO Carly Fiorina acquired Compaq to bolster HP’s presence in the consumer PC industry. Well, like most things Carly Fiorina has undertaken, this one has proven to be a strategic mistake on the part of HP. HP hopes that after its spin-off of the PC side and its abolishment of the WebOS and Palm that it will, in a corporate sense, resemble IBM; however, IBM is proven on the enterprise side of things while HP’s actions today show a willingness to abandon platforms without hesitation. Developers are long going to be loathe to develop for any platform put forward by this company and consumers that were burnt buying the iPad knock-off are not going to be pleased. This highlights why I think consumers who take a chance on a knock-off product are brave people. Some derivatives of popular formulae are incredibly useful and even better than their forebear; yet, it is admittedly a rare day when this gambit pays dividends. Normally the name brand triumphs and the knock-off fades into obscurity, cherished by its dedicated followers but largely unknown to the greater consumer population. One good example that comes to mind of a knock-off somewhat triumphing in the marketplace is the sportswear company UnderArmour, which came out of nowhere to rival Nike as the premier athletic brand. Of course, sportswear and computers are completely different things and one has to wonder how much HP’s actions today are in direct response to Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility. With the lines between hardware and software makers becoming anomalous, I expect we will see many such mergers and drastic moves on the parts of other tech companies as well.

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