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September 21, 2011
HP has confirmed it has begun laying off employees in the Palm division, home of the now-displaced webOS. Since HP announced in August 2011 its plans to sell or spin off the PSG group, the fate of many of HP’s products and resources has been widely unknown. Now, however, it looks like we know.
The Wall Street Journal’s AllThingsD received confirmation from “sources close to HP” that “525 employees” would be laid off, starting this week. Those employees aren’t across the entire PSG division, however. They’re apparently specifically inside HP’s Palm division (or webOS GBU), which is in charge of webOS and related hardware. The official comment from HP was that layoffs were under way, but AllThingsD was unable to confirm the exact number.
Naturally, when HP announced its plans for PSG it promised webOS customers will not be adversely affected, but the truth remains to be seen. What becomes of the laid-off employees also remains to be determined, because there’s no information whether these are from the technical side, such as engineers and developers, or the corporate side, such as HR administrators and salespeople. If HP unleashes a developer diaspora, the channel should be careful to see where the talent ends up, because it’s possible these developers could form little mobile development startups of their own. ISVs and VARs working on developing mobile applications for their customers (or internally) might actually want to seek out these potentially unemployed webOS experts, too.
Bottom line is that all eyes should be on HP. As the eventual spinoffs and layoffs come to pass, there’s much to be procured. The end of HP and webOS as we know it today could mean a lot of new innovation on the horizon.
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