HP CEO Mark Hurd has thrown the cat among the webOS pigeons, by suggesting that the company's acquisition of Palm was predominantly for their IP and not "to be in the smartphone business." Speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch technology conference, Hurd revealed that HP have no plans to "spend billions of dollars trying to go into the smartphone business," explaining "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. 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."
Instead, HP are looking to leverage webOS in their "small form factor web-connected devices", so as to give them a consistent feel and set of services across the range. The news will come as a disappointment to those who had hoped HP's financial backing would allow Palm to flourish as a smartphone vendor.
Of course, "web-connected devices" covers a multitude of platforms, and could well include the webOS tablet HP tipped shortly after the acquisition was announced. Since then they've denied any plans of creating a webOS netbook, and the architect of the webOS UI, Matias Duarte, has jumped ship to Google's Android team.