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The Top 20 Tech Stories of 2011


12
HP Confuses Us
The HP TouchPad went from abandonware to the hottest item on store shelves after prices dropped dramatically.
The HP TouchPad went from abandonware to the hottest item on store shelves after prices dropped dramatically.

One company that had a baffling 2011 was Hewlett-Packard. In 2010, HP acquired Palm, a company known for producing personal digital assistants and smartphones. Palm had developed a mobile operating system called webOS, but the new platform struggled to find an audience in the market. When HP swooped in for the rescue, it seemed as if webOS would live on in tablets, if not smartphones.

Then in May 2011, an article in Bloomberg Businessweek revealed that HP CEO Leo Apotheker planned to package webOS with every PC the company would ship in 2012. Users would be able to boot into either the Windows operating system or webOS. Presumably, this would give developers an incentive to create innovative applications for the webOS platform. After all, with a potential user base as large as the largest computer manufacturer in the world could provide, developers might have more reasons to write software for the platform.

By the time August rolled around, we had another story. In a press release, HP revealed the company would discontinue operations involving webOS for smartphones and tablets. The press release also said that the company was considering spinning off its PC division into a separate company. Suddenly, it looked like HP was getting out of the consumer electronics business, and webOS was destined to fade away. The crazy fire sale of HP TouchPads -- tablets running webOS -- soon followed.

In September, the board of directors for HP fired Leo Apotheker and hired Meg Whitman, former head of eBay. One month later, HP announced that it wasn't really spinning off its PC business after all. And before the fever dream could come to an end, another announcement from HP in December surprised us: HP will hand webOS over to the open-source community. The company would also continue to develop and support the operating system. Whew!


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