HP makes moves to save webOS from the scrapheap

A leaked email from Todd Bradley, executive vice president of HP's seemingly doomed Personal Systems Group, has confirmed that the company will continue to work on the webOS platform it acquired from Palm.

The email to staff explains that the company is to split the webOS team into two: a software arm will make the move to HP's Office of Strategy and Technology under the leadership of Shane Robison, while the hardware arm will remain in the Personal Systems Group and likely form part of any spin-off company or sale HP makes.

"The webOS platform that powers these devices continues to demonstrate its ability to improve how our customers look up information, access entertainment and stay connected on the go," claims Bradley in a copy of the mail leaked to webOS fan site PreCentral. "As you know, the company is investigating the best ways to leverage webOS software and grow its applications environment.

"With this in mind, we have decided that we'll be most effective in these efforts by having the teams in webOS software engineering, worldwide developer relations and webOS software product marketing join the Office of Strategy and Technology under Shane Robison. This change is effective immediately."

Bradley claims that the move will allow HP to properly investigate the means by which it can use webOS, with the company having decided that making consumer products based on the platform is a no-go despite the success of the TouchPad following its price drop to a bargain £89.

The OST is a division well-known within HP for helping to incubate future technologies and products, with the majority of its work focusing on cloud-based technologies. There is no indication, however, that the company is looking to roll webOS in to any of its existing cloud products.

The news will be welcomed by webOS fans, and seems to fly in the face of rumours that HP was eager to sell the operating system lock stock and barrel to a hardware vendor eager to try its own hand at custom smartphones and tablets. Instead, HP appears to be treating the webOS software platform as a still-valuable commodity, even as it works to kill off the hardware arm.

A follow-up email from Shane Robison regarding to move brings fresh hope for those who managed to get their hands on a cut-price TouchPad and users of the company's webOS-based smartphones, claiming that webOS under OST will keep issuing over-the-air updates and software enhancements for the company's existing products.

"I’m pleased that the executive team has decided that the webOS software teams will be best served joining the Office of Strategy and Technology while we investigate how to leverage the webOS platform and its ecosystem," Robison said. "This move also supports the teams’ continued efforts with over-the-air updates and the application catalogue."