HP Pulled The Plug On Palm Two Years Early, Says Former Exec

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Photo: Flickr/Global X

When HP bought Palm in April 2010, the company planned to give Palm products three years to succeed, according to a former executive.But after Leo Apotheker took over, the company changed directions and pulled the plug almost two years early.

Phil McKinney was the chief technical officer of HP’s PC business until he quit last October. In an interview with marketing expert Rick Mathieson, reported earlier by WebOSNation, McKinney explains that HP bought Palm in early 2010 with the idea that it would be a long-term project:

Palm was struggling and HP was stepping in, doing the acquisition, and we were basically going to take three years hands-off. Palm was basically going to get cash infusions, resources, and expertise. But Palm was going to be given three years to basically get itself positioned to be a market leader in its space. Now, fast forward to July of 2011 and, one, you had a swap out of the CEOs — Leo comes in as the new CEO — and HP, for whatever reason — I was not a part of this decision — made the decision to kill it, one year into the three year program.

The switch did seem abrupt at the time. HP introduced the TouchPad tablet at a high-profile public event last February, and also announced that WebOS would be coming to HP PCs in 2012.

But last August, after seven weeks of tepid sales, HP suddenly pulled the plug on all the TouchPad and all other Palm hardware. Reportedy, HP’s hardware head Todd Bradley and Palm leader Jon Rubinstein didn’t even know about the decision until a couple days beforehand.

A little more than a month later, HP replaced Apotheker with Meg Whitman.

Recently, HP turned WebOS into an open source project, and it laid off about 275 people working on WebOS earlier this month.

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