Opinion

HP must come clean over Palm

As the assimilation of mobility vendor Palm into the Hewlett-Packard empire nears, several key members of Palm's webOS dev team have jumped ship. The beneficiaries? Palm's rivals Android and Apple.

Palm has already lost its veep of human interface and user experience, Matias Duarte, to Google, where he has become Android's director of user experience, and it has now emerged that user interface design architect Rich Dellinger left Palm at the start of the month and returned to his former employers, Apple.

Earlier in the month Mark Hurd said HP did not buy Palm to get into the smartphone business, and although this statement came too late to affect the departure of Duarte or Dellinger, it sends a bad message to Palm employees.

I think it's not necessarily the fact that these guys don't fancy working for HP much, and more the fact that HP has given the appearance of dithering over Palm's future.

After all, in the acquisition announcement, HP's Todd Bradley said the vendor intended to be a leader in the mobility space.

Okay, it can have a go at that with tablet PCs. But surely it makes so much sense to leverage smartphone devices as well, since it now has them.

Maybe Hurd's remarks should never have been taken to mean that HP will close or sell Palm's smartphone business. He didn't buy Palm to get into smartphones, but he can still sell them, just as I didn't buy a car so I could have a new radio, but I still listen to it.

But whatever he meant, it's how the remarks sounded that's important. HP may not actually have ever flip-flopped, but frankly, it looks and sounds like a duck.

HP is in danger of inadvertently damaging the assets it bought and must clarify its intentions once and for all.

This was first published in June 2010

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