HP kills webOS devices, confirms Autonomy bid, PC spinoff

HP disclosed more unexpected news in the hours before its third-quarter earnings call

HP confirmed a pair of rumors (selling off its PC division, acquiring Autonomy) and disclosed more unexpected news (halting its webOS business) in the hours before its third-quarter earnings call with analysts.

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HP acknowledged discussions with Autonomy regarding a possible offer for the UK software maker. In addition, HP said its board of directors has authorized the exploration of “strategic alternatives” for its Personal Systems Group (PSG). “HP will consider a broad range of options that may include, among others, a full or partial separation of PSG from HP through a spin-off or other transaction,” the company said in a statement.

Unexpectedly, HP said it’s shutting down its webOS device business, 49 days after launching it with the TouchPad tablet, and a year after paying $1.2 billion to acquire it from Palm. (See also: HP TouchPad goes on sale to mixed reviews)

The innovative webOS let developers use HTML, Javascript and CSS to build applications for webOS devices. Developers gave the OS high marks, and users were enthusiastic about the UI. But neither Palm nor HP were able to make products that lots of users were willing to buy.

“HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward,” the company stated.

Lastly, HP announced preliminary results for its third fiscal quarter and lowered estimates for its 2011 fiscal year. Revenue for the quarter came in at $31.2 billion compared with $30.7 billion one year ago.

For the full year, HP is expecting revenue of approximately $127.2 billion to $127.6 billion, down from its previous estimate of $129 billion to $130 billion. Diluted earnings-per-share are expected to be in the range of $3.59 to $3.70, down from HP’s previous estimate of at least $4.27

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