MediaFile

WebOS: Are we there yet?

It looks like the 600 employees in Hewlett-Packard’s WebOS division will only have to wait a bit longer to know their fate.

New Chief Executive Meg Whitman told French newspaper Le Figaro that she plans to announce her decision on the operating system in the next two weeks.

“This is not an easy decision, because we have a team of 600 people which is in limbo,” she was quoted as saying in French, as per the translation by Google Translate.

 HP, which acquired WebOS when it bought Palm in 2010 for $1.2 billion, has been looking to sell the mobile software platform, sources have told Reuters.

WebOS employees have been in a limbo ever since HP decided to kill its webOS-based TouchPad tablet following poor sales.

Tech wrap: Oracle and HP keep sparring

Oracle and Autonomy escalated their war of words on Thursday, sparring publicly over whether the British software firm had ever been shopped to the U.S. technology giant.

Autonomy, which Hewlett-Packard this year agreed to buy for $12 billion, is at the center of a debate on Wall Street over the tenure of fired HP CEO Leo Apotheker and the future direction of the company he once ran. The spat comes at an inopportune time for HP, fighting to salvage its reputation with investors.

Entrepreneur, venture capitalist and HP board member, Marc Andreessen, referred to Oracle as an “oldline” software company and took a jab at outspoken CEO Larry Ellison: “Larry is one of my idols,” Andreessen said. “I wouldn’t quite say my role model.”

Tech wrap: Amazon fights iPad with Fire

Amazon.com Inc introduced its eagerly awaited tablet computer on Wednesday with a price tag that could make it the first strong competitor in a tablet market that has been dominated by Apple Inc’s iPad. The new device, priced at $199, may have the biggest impact on other makers of tablets and e-readers, such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Barnes & Noble Inc, maker of the Nook.

“It’s a Nook killer,” said Scot Wingo, chief executive of ChannelAdvisor, which helps merchants sell more on websites including Amazon.com. “And it’s a very compelling offering if you’re not in the Apple ecosystem already.”

See how Amazon’s Fire stacks up to Apple’s iPad 2. Also a cool graphic breaking down the top 4 tablets.

As Hewlett Packard goes, so goes the world

By Peter Sims
The opinions expressed are his own.

If there is one company that best exemplifies the crisis (and deficit) of leadership that we face worldwide, it is Hewlett Packard. For all Meg Whitman’s strengths as a person, she is not the right leader for HP. If anything, HP’s challenges exemplify why power-centric bureaucracies fail.

Let’s rewind for a moment. I’ve spent over 10 years learning about HP as a venture capital investor, student and researcher of HP’s leadership and innovation, from my vantage points at Stanford Business School and the Stanford Institute of Design. Based on hundreds of discussions with HP leaders, managers, employees (long timers and newbie’s), partners, customers, here are a few observations.

1) HP grew, on average, 18% a year for 60 years — a remarkable feat.  Long-time HP veterans like Ned Bornholt, HP senior executive and former Agilent CEO, and Chuck House, the respected HP historian and coauthor of The HP Phenomenon, attribute this remarkable growth to a few factors.

Tech wrap: HP shake-up?

A change could be underway at the top at Hewlett-Packard. The company’s board convened on Wednesday to discuss the possibility of ousting CEO Leo Apotheker after less than a year on the job and may appoint former eBay chief Meg Whitman to fill in as interim CEO, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. HP’s board of directors has come under increasing pressure in recent months after a raft of controversial decisions has left investors uncertain of the company’s leadership.

Newly minted Apple CEO Tim Cook will try his hand as star presenter at an October 4 company event widely expected to include the launch of the latest version of the tech behemoth’s iPhone handset, according to a report on AllThingD. Sources told the website that the plan is to make the iPhone 5 available to consumers within weeks of the event. Apple has yet to officially announce or even acknowledge that the new device exists at all. For those tired of yet another story about a rumored release date, there was something akin to a confirmation on Wednesday from an unlikely source: former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Gore, an Apple board member, apparently told a tech conference that the next-generation phone will indeed be available next month. Oops?!

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt traveled to Washington on Wednesday to face critics who say his company has become a dominant and potentially anti-competitive force on the Internet. Schmidt told a Senate antitrust hearing that his company has not “cooked” its search results to favor its own products and listings, despite accusations to the contrary from senators and other Web companies.  “Google is in a position to determine who will succeed and who will fail on the Internet,” said Republican Senator Mike Lee, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel. Google has been broadly accused of using its clout in the search market to stomp rivals as it moves into related businesses, like travel search.

eBay to Skype: we’re no good together

Some tech mergers take a few years to prove their worth.

Hewlett-Packard’s $19 billion acquisition of Compaq Computer ignited a bitter internal board battle when it was announced in 2001, but is now deemed a key ingredient in H-P’s comeback.

No such vindication is on hand for eBay’s $2.6 billion purchase of Internet telephone service Skype: the deal left many scratching their heads when it was announced in 2005 and now it  looks like officially a poor fit in light of eBay’s plan to spin it off in an initial public offering next year.

“It’s clear that Skype has limited synergies with eBay and PayPal,” eBay CEO John Donahoe said Tuesday in a statement unveiling the plan.

from Shop Talk:

A suitor for Skype?

(Refiles to correct Donahoe's first name to John.)

TECH TAIWAN SKYPETo sell Skype, or not to sell Skype. That is the question for eBay, and Wall Street has diverging opinions on whether the San Jose company will or won't unload its Internet telephone service.
    
Skype was acquired under the reign of former CEO Meg Whitman (now a California gubernatorial hopeful) and touted as a nifty way for eBay's millions of sellers and buyers to connect. That reality never materialized, and current CEO John Donahoe has acknowledged that synergies between eBay and Skype are nonexistent.
    
Still, Skype is on a tear, growing at double digits and adding 350,000 global users a day. The five-year-old company logged $551 million in revenue in 2008 -- that number is expected to double by 2011 -- and is now a subject of great speculation by analysts, who wonder whether eBay plans to spin it off, or hold it close. 
                              
Cowan and Co's Jim Friedland, for one, thinks it's for sale. Writing in a note the day after eBay held an analyst presentation to outline the company's three-year plan, Friedland said it appeared "eBay was using the Skype discussion to trigger a bidding war between Google and Microsoft."
       
"We believe the asset would be attractive to both Google and Microsoft to enhance their web-based enterprise application services. In addition, Skype's user base of 405 million, which is particularly strong internationally, would likely strengthen Google's dominant position in the consumer web app market."

But Bernstein Research's Jeffrey Lindsay did not see it that way: "We think the dearth of buyers such as Google or Microsoft will mean that eBay is more likely to spin out part of Skype to the public (like Time Warner did initially with Time Warner Cable)."
    
Huh. Donahoe, incidentally, has said only that eBay will do what's best "to maximize Skype's potential and value."
    
Deutsche Bank's Jeetil Patel opined that, since Skype is performing well, "Management should hold on to this business model" and Credit Suisse's Spencer Wang said he did not see eBay rushing to sell.
    
"While we think the company would be open to parting with Skype at the right price (currently valued at $1.8 billion on eBay's balance sheet), a divestiture of Skype does not appear imminent," Wang wrote.

(Photo: Reuters)