HP Pledges Support for webOS, Slashes TouchPad Prices


Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) said it will not abandon its webOS platform despite discontinuing its webOS device business, a top HP executive said. Meanwhile, over the weekend HP dramatically lowered the price on its webOS TouchPad tablet in an attempt to reduce inventory, leading to fire sale prices and apparently massive sales.

Days after HP said it will drop support for its webOS device business, namely the TouchPad and its smartphones, HP sought to explain that it is not dropping the platform completely, though it might eventually sell it. "The webOS is not dead," Stephen DeWitt, the head of HP's webOS business unit, told Bloomberg. "We're going to continue to evolve it, update and support it. We stand by it."

DeWitt did not rule out a sale of webOS, but said that the platform might be licensed to others and might find favor with appliance makers looking to spice up their offerings. "The whole world isn't just about tablets and phones," DeWitt said. "There are going to be appliances of so many different sizes and shapes in the future that are going to require a human interface for data."

While the platform's future remains up in the air, HP is going about the business of trying to sell off its remaining webOS device inventory. HP cut the price of its 16 GB Wi-Fi-only TouchPad down to $99 and the 32 GB model down to $149, leading many online retailers to post "sold out" notices for the device. The TouchPad originally went on sale for $499.99 for the 16 GB model and $599.99 for the 32 GB model. DeWitt said HP might offer compensation to customers who bought TouchPads at the original prices. "We're going to obviously take care of every TouchPad customer," he said.

Additionally, Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) is looking to take advantage of the situation by attracting webOS developers. Brandon Watson, the head of Microsoft's developer evangelism team, pledged to support webOS developers who switch to Windows Phone. "To Any Published WebOS Devs: We'll give you what you need to be successful on #WindowsPhone, incl.free phones, dev tools, and training, etc.," Watson said in a Twitter message late on Friday.

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