Hewlett-Packard has informed its webOS Global Business Unit employees that it will be split in two immediately, according to two leaked memos obtained by PreCentral.net.
HP has previously indicated that it is considering spinning off its massive PC manufacturing business, however this is the first confirmation that employees of the hardware division are set for further disruption.
Staff with responsibility for hardware products will be staying in the Personal Systems Group (PSG) reporting to Stephen Dewitt, while the webOS software team is moved over to the Office of Strategy and Technology (OS&T) under Shane Robinson, where HP's multi-billion dollar main R&D investment budget goes to.
This follows Samsung CEO Choi Gee Sung's comments at IFA last week to Bloomberg that Samsung will not be interested in purchasing webOS, preferring to boost their investments into Android and their own mobile operating system Bada instead.
In his letter to the PSG, Todd Bradley explained that OS&T is webOS' best chance of survival, while the rest of the old team should still focus on "creating amazing products":
"Reorganising the webOS software teams under OS&T allows us to fully investigate how we can utilise the webOS software platform. The pan-HP charter of OS&T provides a broad view of how we can optimize our technologies. In fact, it has proven to be a successful incubator of technologies; it is home to a team of senior technology experts devoted exclusively to exploring longer-term strategies for our technologies. Currently, OS&T is incubating the HP Cloud Services business units, Vertica and Business Solutions.
I would like to thank the teams moving to OS&T for their hard work, innovation and devotion to creating a differentiated customer experience. Their efforts are evident in the intuitive elegance of webOS, and they will not soon be forgotten.
Meanwhile, during this time of transition and internal analysis, we in PSG must continue to ensure that our customers, partners, colleagues and friends understand that we remain focused on creating amazing products, winning new business and showing the world why we continue to be the largest, most profitable PC company in the world."
HP neither confirmed nor denied the news when contacted by Computerworld UK, and refused further comment.
In the second memo sent by Robinson to the webOS software team, he outlined HP's focus for the future:
"Two weeks ago we announced the transformation of HP for the future. As part of that change we made a very tough decision to exit the webOS hardware device business. At the same time we recognized the value inherent in the webOS software platform. Not only because of its elegant, intuitive interface, but because of our strategic focus on cloud, connectivity, services and software, and printing."