In what is surely one of the larger signs that we are entering the post-pc era, HP announced today that it is discontinuing all future WebOS devices (palm is now officially dead) and more…. HP is planning a sweeping overhaul of its businesses, agreeing to buy Autonomy Corp. for $10.3 billion and weighing a breakup that would unravel the much-debated Compaq Computer Corp. purchase.
Autonomy shareholders will receive $42.11 a share, Palo Alto, California-based Hewlett-Packard said in a statement. That represents a 64 percent premium over Autonomy’s closing share price yesterday. Hewlett-Packard also said it’s considering spinning off its PC division and that it will discontinue products that run WebOS software. Hewlett-Packard shares dropped after the company issued forecasts that missed estimates.
Chief Executive Officer Leo Apotheker, who took the helm at Hewlett-Packard in November, is lessening the company’s reliance on PCs as consumer demand wanes and Apple Inc. lures buyers to its iPad. He’s also expanding in so-called cloud services, which help customers handle computing tasks over the Internet.
“Their focus is on being more of a software and services company and not dependent on the hardware businesses,” said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner Inc. “The hardware business has become a difficult business. In many ways it’s a commodity-driven business. This is a major strategic shift for HP.”
By discontinuing WebOS products, Apotheker is backtracking on a strategy he announced just five months ago to put WebOS software on every Hewlett-Packard computer. The operating system runs the company’s TouchPad tablet and a range of smartphones.
Former CEO Carly Fiorina acquired Compaq in 2002 for $17.6 billion, making Hewlett-Packard the world’s biggest seller of PCs. Fiorina won shareholder approval for the deal after a proxy fight that pitted her against heirs of the company’s founders.