HP’s PC, webOS Drama Just a Marketing Ploy?

A couple of weeks ago, Hewlett-Packard shocked the world when it announced the end of webOS, HP’s acquired mobile operating system from Palm and supposed weapon in the mobile war. Days afterward, it unleashed another wave of surprise with the TouchPad’s $99 sale.

The sudden drop of TouchPad’s price was obviously a move by HP to liquidate its tablets, which sold out right away.  And now, HP is announcing that they will continue to manufacture the TouchPads–one last time.

“We have been surprised by the enthusiastic response to the TouchPad price drop, despite announcing an end to manufacture WebOS hardware. We have decided to produce one last run of TouchPads to meet unfulfilled demand,” said Mark Budgell, HP social media strategist.

This new development from HP left competitors and analyst speculating if all of those prior announcements were all part of a marketing plan to increase the demand of the TouchPad.  Because if it is, then it is working out as planned, as HP’s shares bounce back after the tablet’s sale.

As you’ve probably know by now, HP also announced its plan to spin-off the Personal Systems Group, its PC division, as part of their acquisition of Autonomy.

“We prefer a spin-off as a separate company and the working hypotheses is that a spin-off will be in the best interests of HP’s shareholders, customers and employees,” a HP spokeswoman said.

“However, we have to complete the diligence process and validate this assumption, including fully understanding the dis-synergies in separating the PSG business from HP.”

Another alternative that HP might consider is the sale of PSG, which sparked the rumors that Samsung may be interested in buying HP’s PC business. The Korean company was quick to deny the rumors, stating, “The recent rumors that Samsung Electronics will be taking over Hewlett-Packard Co.’s personal computer business are not true. We hope this clarifies any confusion that may have occurred.” Although, Samsung recently recruited HP’s ex-vice president of PSG marketing Raymond Wah to handle their PC sales.

Samsung also denied speculations of the company acquiring webOS. Chief Executive Officer Choi Gee Sung said that they would “never” purchase the mobile operating system. Instead, Samsung will focus more on improving its own Bada operating system.

HP is considering other manufacturers to use webOS on their devices through partnerships and licensing deals, which is unlikely due to the software’s limited benefits compared to rival operating systems.

David Cahill predicts that HP will get little return with its PSG sale and calls the webOS unplugging an unfortunate decision, according to his Wikibon post entitled, “Finding Focus: The New New Strategy To Get HP Back on Track.”

Whatever is the final outcome of HP’s overall transformation, we will know one year from now–the amount of time it would take for a complete spin-off, according to HP chairman Ray Lane.

Lane said HP would probably make a final decision on the spinoff within four months, and the actual completion would take a year.

Lane also explained that HP is making a second run of TouchPads mainly because it has extra parts, and to give developers a cheap way to keep building for WebOS.