HP Giving up Mobile Dreams to Focus on 3D Printers

hp3d-printer-rme-ng

To bolster Hewlett-Packard’s financial position, CEO Meg Whitman is said to be looking for buyers for the company’s mobile-computing patents.

According to sources familiar with the matter who chose to remain anonymous as the plan has not been made public, HP has approached potential buyers regarding its mobile patent portfolio.  The portfolio is said to include WebOS, the mobile operating system that came with the acquisition of Palm Inc. in 2010.

The sources also claimed that HP has removed restrictions in its patents that have made them unappealing to potential buyers and that could boost their overall worth.

“We don’t comment on rumor and speculation,” said Michael Thacker, a spokesman for HP, when asked to comment on the rumor.

When HP acquired Palm, it promised to make WebOS a part of personal computers and was used as the mobile platform of the now defunct TouchPad.

In 2011, Leo Apotheker, HP’s CEO before Whitman, shocked the world when he announced that the company will be focusing on software, and could potentially drop its hardware business altogether.  Apotheker shuttered the Palm division, ultimately halting production of the said tablet after a series of fire sales.

Whitman is still trying to undo the damage Apotheker left behind, and turned WebOS into an open-source project, rebranded it as “Gram”, and sold the codes to LG Electronics, whilst retaining the patents for the platform, only licensing them to LG.  LG now uses Gram to power its smartTVs.

3D Printers by 2014

 

HP has a long history with printers and it is just fitting that the company will now enter the 3D printer market in mid 2014.

Announced at the Canalys Channels Forum in Bangkok, Whitman stated that they are excited with 3D printers and that, “We want to lead this businesses. HP labs is looking at it.”

She notes that 3D printing is still at its infancy and there are many aspects to look into to make it a household device such as making the hardware affordable, as well as making the process of printing 3D objects faster.

“To print a bottle can take eight to ten hours. That’s all very interesting, but it is like watching ice melt,” Whitman said.

No information yet as to what form HP’s 3D printer would take, like if it will be a desktop 3D printer for personal use or if it would be something for commercial use.

In 2011, HP released its TopShot LaserJet Pro M275, which allows people to print 3D images.  Though this is a far cry from what 3D printers can actually do, it just shows HP has been looking into this market long before 3D printers became popular with crowdfunding sites.