All Change

Well, well. It's a turbulent time in Silicon Valley at the moment, and nowhere more so than HP. The veteran PC maker - the biggest in the world - is reeling from the failure of its WebOS effort, which was born out of its decision to buy Palm, the equally veteran PDA and smartphone maker, last year.

Mere weeks after the launch of the first big product to arise out of the merger, the HP TouchPad - and literally one day after the release of the other, the Pre 3 phone - HP announced they were killing the whole WebOS hardware line, and considering spinning off their entire PC hardware business. At the same time, HP bought Autonomy, a British software company, for a remarkable $10 billion. The strategy was clear - HP was to exit the hardware business and become a business services company, much like its old rival IBM.

Just one problem - no-one was really sure the plan was a good idea, or that CEO Apotheker was the right person to implement it. Apotheker came to the job in less-than-ideal circumstances, being appointed last year after former CEO Mark Hurd resigned over a sex scandal, of all things. (The Palm acquisition was very much Hurd's baby, and many Valley types say Apotheker's heart was never really in the WebOS push.) But not long after HP's about-turn in strategy was announced, rumours began to circulate that Apotheker was not for the job.

And now those rumours have come true. Apotheker is out, and the new CEO of HP is... why, it's Meg Whitman! If that name is vaguely familiar, it's because Whitman ran for Governor of California in a high-profile race where she raised some eyebrows with her Tea Party opinions. She lost to an aged hippy, despite spending tens of millions of her own dollars, which was fairly embarrassing. So a high-profile Silicon Valley turnaround might be just the thing she needs to varnish her tarnished [You're a poet and you don't know it. -Ed.] career. No word yet on whether this means the PC business spin-off is off, but we do know there's no chance of WebOS rising from the grave. Sob.

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