HP CEO Meg Whitman raised eyebrows after telling Fox Business in a video interview Thursdsay that HP would have to offer a smartphone, a little over a year after the struggling PC company (then led by Leo Apotheker) said it would be discontinuing further development of webOS, the operating system for the Palm line of smartphones and mobile devices that HP had purchased along with Palm for $1.2 billion in Spring 2010.
“We are working on this,” Whitman said in the interview. “We have to ultimately offer a smartphone because in many countries of the world that would be your first computing device…we are a computing company.”
It’s unclear whether HP, which has since turned webOS into an open source platform, will be using that or another operating system to power its smartphones.
But Matthew McNulty, the former senior director of the HP Enyo team, Enyo being the successor to webOS, said he would be surprised if HP used webOS for its new smartphone since many engineers have left the company, including McNulty who departed HP for Google in May.
However, if he still worked at HP, McNulty said the announcement from Whitman would have been devastating.
“If we still worked there, we probably would have collectively taken the day off, that would be pretty soul-crushing,” McNulty told TPM in a statement. That said, McNulty said that all those who left are proud of their legacies.
“Everyone I’ve stayed in contact with is at peace with the fate of webOS,” McNulty said. “It’s the modern Xerox PARC,” referencing the seminal Xerox user interface on the Alto computer that allegedly served as the inspiration to Steve Jobs for the Macintosh computer.