HP Keeping WebOS Torch Lit, Claims 'Huge Interest' After Fire Sale

Over the weekend, HP slashed its price for the 16GB TouchPad to $99 and its 32-GB TouchPad to $149, triggering a feeding frenzy from bargain hunters that quickly exhausted supplies from both HP and its retail partners. In HP's interpretation, this is a sign of the market's excitement over WebOS.

"We have received unprecedented orders as a result of the tremendous discount offered. This is clear confirmation to HP there is huge interest in building a WebOS community," reads a message on HP's TouchPad Web site for SMB customers.

Stephen DeWitt, head of HP's WebOS business unit, hasn't budged from his longstanding position that WebOS will eventually be the operating system that links a wide variety of connected devices.

"The WebOS is not dead,” DeWitt said Friday, as reported by Bloomberg. "We’re going to continue to evolve it, update and support it. We stand by it."

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DeWitt also broadcast his optimism over the future of WebOS on Twitter over the weekend. "Thanks to the WebOS community for all your great messages. Enjoy the killer deals on the TouchPad. The community only grows from here," DeWitt tweeted on Saturday.

HP CEO Leo Apotheker said in June that he'd be open to licensing WebOS to third parties, including mobile device makers. And On Monday, DeWitt told AllThingsD.com that HP is still planning on putting WebOS on PCs and printers.

In an interview with CRN last month, DeWitt offered a glimpse of HP's future plans for WebOS.

"No one has ever had a playground of hundreds of millions of disparate devices to build applications on top. It's one thing to have a smartphone, but what about applications that run on all sorts of different things that create experiences that we haven't even envisioned yet?" DeWitt told CRN. "What's most important for HP is to inspire the innovation we know is possible across the universe of devices that we can impact."

Meanwhile, Stephen DiFranco, senior vice president and general manager of HP's Personal Systems Group reached out to channel partners Monday with an affirmation that HP's decision to explore options for its Personal Systems Group doesn't amount to a shutdown of the business unit.

DiFranco also acknowledged the uncertainty that HP's TouchPad decision has generated among partners that have invested in WebOS development.

"For some of you that had begun building mobility practices, I realize this decision raises many questions for you. Please know that we are committed to addressing those questions and helping you during this period of transition," DiFranco said in the email.