In a move that has surprised the industry, HP has killed off its just-released Touchpad tablet PC this morning, alongside talk of selling off its entire PC and laptops division.
Although HP's tablet was a gamble on new technology, HP laptops have also been falling behind the competition, with no truly 'thin and light' models available to fulfil growing demand for laptops better suited to a mobile workforce.
The Touchpad, had literally just been released this week in Australia, but had been available in the US since July.
"HP is at a critical point in its existence and these changes are fundamental to the success we all want," HP's CEO Leo Apotheker said.
"The tablet effect is real ... and our TouchPad has not been gaining enough traction in the marketplace."
The Chief Financial Officer of HP, Catherine Lesjak backed up Apotheker's comments, saying, "About a year ago, we made a bet on WebOS. But strong reviews were met with poor sell through."
One of the catalysts for the decision was US retailer Best Buy reportedly trying to get HP to take back 200,000 unsold tablets after minimal consumer interest.
HP paid $1.8 billion to acquire Palm, the company that made PDAs popular with the Palm Pilot, and later went on to develop WebOS, an operating system designed to compete against Apple's iPhone and iPad operating system, iOS.
Australian Business Traveller has been evaluating the Touchpad, and our impressions so far have been that it's probably the best tablet we've seen behind the iPad, with a slickly designed user interface and much better ease-of-use than Android-based tablets.
However, the availability of third-party apps for the TouchPad, which runs on WebOS, is very limited compared to iPad and Android-based tablets, and there's no question that apps and content are a key factor in the attractiveness of tablets.
The tablet computing market now appears settled on iPad and Android as the two competing software platforms, because if a company with the financial resources of HP and a software platform as good as WebOS can't make it work, it's hard to imagine any other player will be able to.
The one wildcard in the equation is Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8, which is being redesigned around touchscreens and is very much targeted at tablets. It can run on the lower power ARM chips used in tablets rather than full-powered Intel chips traditionally required to run Windows.
However, Microsoft's efforts so far to get into mobile computing have been tepid, with next to no take-up of Windows Phone 7 in smartphones.
One of the biggest challenge for Google's Android software continues to be availability of content. While Apple has the iTunes Store laden with movies, TV shows, music, books, newspapers and magazines, Android still only has a smattering of third-party offerings mostly in the music and books segments.
Availability of legal downloads of movies and TV shows -- key content for travellers -- is still non-existent in Australia, although Google is trialling a download service in the US, as part of its Google Market.
Check out our recent roundup of the 10 best tablets for business travellers.