Hewlett-Packard's Website is still selling the TouchPad, the webOS tablet it has condemned to history's dustbin of dead tech.
Those interested in purchasing a piece of future geek trivia can find the 16GB and 32GB versions on HP's official shopping page for $399.99 and $499.99, respectively. Another HP page sings the virtues of webOS, complete with text claiming it's "the smartest OS ever created." For the moment, the tablet is also available on Amazon.
"HP reported that it plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad [tablet] and webOS phones," read the April 18 statement released by the company ahead of its earnings call. "HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward." Its bottom-line revenue for the fiscal fourth quarter 2011 will absorb restructuring and shutdown costs associated with webOS devices.
HP made the executive decision to kill the TouchPad a mere six weeks after its release, apparently in response to anemic sales. Critics had focused on the slowness of the user interface, something HP managed to somewhat fix with a software update. The TouchPad's app ecosystem was relatively spare, especially in comparison with Apple's App Store and Google's Android Marketplace; however, that hadn't dissuaded HP executives from touting the platform's potential to the bitter end.
Indeed, HP previously had high hopes for webOS, which it inherited as part of its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm in 2010. HP CEO Leo Apotheker had previously made no secret of his plans to eventually license the operating system to other manufacturers, suggesting in a March 9 Bloomberg report that such a move would help create a "massive platform." That month, the company announced it would install webOS on all desktop and notebook computers in 2012.
Just this week, the HP executive in charge of webOS told the Wall Street Journal that the operating system could find its way into household devices and automobiles. "We're looking at expanding the base and bringing to the webOS community an ecosystem that inspires developers out there," Stephen DeWitt suggested to the newspaper, while neglecting to mention any specific manufacturing partners.
A vaporized webOS would benefit a number of companies. Apple will have eliminated a nascent competitor to its iPad and iPhone franchises. Microsoft will no longer face the possibility of another platform trying to elbow its way onto Windows' turf. Research In Motion and Google will have a shot at more customers for their respective tablet and smartphone products.
Indeed, another company could purchase or license the operating system with an eye toward reviving it as a viable entity. But as anybody who's ever watched The Walking Dead already knows, you can only revive a zombie so many times.