HP's recently appointed chief executive Meg Whitman says the company will decide on the future of the ill-fated WebOS operating system, which it acquired along with Palm in 2010, within a couple of weeks.
Speaking to French newspaper Le Figaro on Tuesday, Whitman said: “We should announce our decision in the next two weeks. This is not an easy decision, because we have a team of 600 people which is in limbo. We need to have another operating system.”
HP said it was dropping support for WebOS devices, including the HP TouchPad, in August – at the same time it announced its acquisition of British Software firm Autonomy. The company subsequently slashed the price of the TouchPad from £399 to just £89, transforming it into an overnight success.
The question now is whether HP will sell WebOS, keep the software and license it to other manufacturers wanting to produce their own devices, or turn out the lights on the platform altogether.
A report in online magazine VentureBeat last week claimed that the company was courting both Intel and Qualcomm to buy the division, on the condition that the buyer licenses WebOS back to HP for use in printers. The magazine cited “a source with knowledge of the negotiations”.
Meanwhile, Whitman's assertion that HP needs another operating system is causing some speculation within the industry. The company has teamed up with Microsoft to put Windows 8 on its forthcoming Slate 2 tablet, so the operating system in question may be more geared towards the enterprise server market.
In the interview with Le Figaro, Whitman also said that Apple could overtake HP as the top PC maker next year. “I think it's possible if you integrate tablets,” she said. "Apple could go past HP in 2012. We will try to become the champion in 2013."