With WebOS now in the picture, will HP center its focus on software and services while selling off its notebook business?
A report by Commercial Times (subscription required) claims that Hewlett-Packard is contemplating selling off its notebook PC business. The news is unconfirmed and based on rumors, but indicates that, due to its size, Korea-based Samsung Electronics is the frontrunner should HP decide to sell off its notebook arm. Lenovo (who already bought IBM's laptop business) and Foxconn Electronics are also listed as potential buyers should Samsung decline.
An additional report by Digitimes paints a different picture. Sources claim that a deal between HP and Samsung was in the works back in Q4 2010, and that the latter was considering the offer to offset a reduction in component orders from rivals who were understandably cautious over a company that was aggressively pushing its own line of laptops. But the negotiations were reportedly called off for unknown reasons, and have been dead ever since.
Currently HP is the largest vendor in the global notebook market, and the leading notebook vendor in the United States and Europe. HP CEO Leo Apotheker also recently revealed that WebOS will appear on every PC shipped by the company starting next year, running as an overlay in addition to Microsoft's Windows 7 platform. This move will supposedly entice software developers to create a wider range of applications that would differentiate HP devices from similar rival offerings.
That said, the prospect of HP selling off its notebook business is rather low even though the company saw lower-than-expected numbers in its fourth quarter report. The notebook team is also reportedly taking the reigns of development for the Touchpad 2 tablet, the successor to the not-yet-released HP Touchpad tablet. By assigning the notebook team to the project, HP is hoping to develop a more enterprise-centric successor.
Naturally, HP isn't commenting on the rumor. However, Forbes points out that the move would be similar to IBM which has sold off many of its hardware businesses (including PCs and hard drives) over the years to focus on software and services. HP is also expected to focus on software and services under the direction of its new CEO, Leo Apotheker.
"A move to shed the PC business would be a complete reversal of the company's strategy under former CEO Carly Fiorina, who bulked up HP's PC business with the acquisition of Compaq 10 years ago," Forbes reports.