Will HP Revive the TouchPad?

Well, there goes that rumor.

Samsung has squashed the idea of purchasing webOS from buyer's-remorse-stricken Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) just as it dismissed the rumor of picking up HP's PC business.

Bloomberg reports that at the IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin, Samsung CEO Choi Gee Sung responded to questions about webOS acquisition speculation by firmly saying Sammy would "never" pursue such a deal. He went further, saying, "It's not right that acquiring an operating system is becoming a fashion."

Rather, the company will focus its efforts on developing its proprietary mobile operating system, Bada, in order to strengthen its software assets. Currently, Bada claims a 1.9% market share, larger than even Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Windows Phone 7 at 1.6%.

Who wants some?
If Samsung isn't buying webOS, who will? If there's one thing the market loves, it's juicy gossip. Speculation has now even turned to popular Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC or even possibly Facebook.

Wait a second, Facebook?! You might recall the talk of a Facebook phone last year. Although nothing has emerged yet, I wou ldn't be surprised if Mark Zuckerberg thought it was a good idea to jump into the smartphone business eventually. It's not impossible to imagine him going head-to-head against Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iOS and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android, considering how much he admires Steve Jobs and already guns for Google.

It's alive!
HP has been sending some mixed signals about the fate of webOS and the TouchPad. The company continued to order additional units just to sell them at a loss even after officially dropping the hardware. Now a recent Reuters report even suggests that HP may resurrect the TouchPad as part of its planned spinoff of its personal systems group. Any potential stand-alone company would be led by the current personal systems group head, Todd Bradley (who's also a former Palm CEO).

Your guess is as good as mine on what the fate of webOS will be. I still think it will eventually be sold and have parts of it incorporated into another OS, because licensing prospects seem dim. What do you think? What will become of webOS? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google, Apple, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google, Microsoft, and Apple, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft and Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On September 02, 2011, at 7:25 PM, iParadigm2watch wrote:

    Comment on what?

    Rumors. Indecision. Maybe this, maybe that?

    These people are so confused they got me scratching my head.

    I guess it all seems a bit like crying "wolf" .....

    One thing for schure, I will never buy an HP product.

    There may be service, there may not be. They may continue the product line, they may not?

    Wheew! What a way to run a business into the

    ground....lol.....

  • Report this Comment On September 02, 2011, at 7:28 PM, iParadigm2watch wrote:

    Postscript: I'll just stay with Apple!

  • Report this Comment On September 03, 2011, at 10:04 PM, OfficeEscapee wrote:

    Call me crazy, but I think Hp's Touchpad/Palm/webOS assets are a perfect fit for Dell. The once leader in PC supply chain and delivery needs a remodeling and HP's assets might give it what it needs to remake itself.

    Michael Dell should shoot them an offer for the tablet/smartphone assets that includes the PC line only if the terms are righteous (owner financing).

    Dell webOS - kinda has a nice ring to it.

  • Report this Comment On September 05, 2011, at 1:47 PM, deemery wrote:

    > Dell webOS - kinda has a nice ring to it.

    Kinda like DOS??? :-)

    The question in my mind is whether Dell could ever institute a serious R&D activity leading to meaningful new products.

  • Report this Comment On September 17, 2011, at 7:38 PM, jonecool wrote:

    I thought it was very interesting to watch the reaction of consumers flocking to the HP Touchpad in groves to pick up on the now "lowest price tablet". This certainly improved sales, while killing profits. However, it made the HP TouchPad the most sought after device in late August 2011-if not of all time.

    Citing slow sales at the initial launch as their reasoning for the price drop just doesn't make sense to me. They spent years of development, marketing, etc. just to give the product a measly 1.5 months in consumers hands before killing it? Really?

    I think this "could be" a ploy, a brilliant one at that. They set a fixed number of devices as being available for the price drop to get them in the hands of thousands. Those thousands of people then, hopefully, like the devices and begin telling their friends/family (or buying them up for them).

    Now consider, HP reversing their decision after another month or two. Instead of killing the product, they say they will re-release another mass production through the month of Oct. More devices in more hands at a slightly higher price (saw them on TigerDirect for $180 - bundled just the other day).

    Repeat this step until you sell enough devices to get closer to a profitable level and continue. Consumers keep buying more devices thinking they are "rare" or simply "hard to find" and all of a sudden, the HP TouchPad becomes a sustainable business.

    Call me crazy (I've been called worse), but I don't think the HP TouchPad is dead just yet. I think they'll keep feeding the frenzy as long as they can with gradual price increases and continued (yet slowed from the original plan) production well into at least 2012.

    If they do, I personally will find it a brilliant move. If they don't, then yes it was a missed opportunity to make it a brilliant move.

    Just my .02

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