This week, the world's largest computer maker began making moves to get out of the computer making business.
This is just as weird as it sounds, like Captain America showing up wearing a Wakandan flag. Hewlett Packard ate Compaq whole, overcame Dell to become the biggest seller of personal computers in the world. After spending more than a billion dollars on buying the company Palm just to get its hands on WebOS and then spending even more to launch the TouchPad and two new Palm Pre phones, it took less than 18 months for the company to throw in the towel after Best buy was unable to sell the TouchPad in a significant number leading retailers to begin liquidating it at $100. Now, HP is spending another $11.7 billion to buy British firm Autonomy and refocus on selling "enterprise software" to large companies.
What happened? What went wrong? What happened to "too big to fail?" Well, as Palm themselves learned when they tried to reincorporate Handspring after Palm's founders went off and made a better palmtop, when you're a set of suits it's hard to harness the abilities of a set of creators. As well, the company felt their inroads to tablet computing wouldn't look like such an embarrassing failure in comparison to the iPad (rumored 25,000 units sold from a Best Buy supply of 270,000). The head honchos at HP saw their stockpile of cash and decided to fold while there was still time.
What's next? Well, expect a massive sell off at retail of HP assets and for the computer business to find a home under another banner. As for today, it might seem unusual to see that Goliath has feet of clay, but it is interesting to see a company of that size take one look at Google and Apple and say, "no thanks, I don't wanna get into that fight."