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HP wasted billions on Palm and webOS

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HP's Q4 2011 results reveal that the company spent billions buying and then killing webOS.

touchpad hp 2
touchpad hp 2

HP just reported its Q4 2011 financial results, and although the company managed an overall profit, the real news is in the webOS numbers: HP spent a big chunk of $3.3 billion this year killing the webOS group and absorbing Palm's falling value. Considering the $1.2 billion HP spent on Palm in the first place, and it's clear that HP's blown through at least a couple billion in its failed webOS experiment — an experiment that's still awaiting a final resolution from new CEO Meg Whitman, who's promised employees a decision on their fates sometime within the next few weeks. Whitman also promised that if HP decides to stick with webOS it'll do so in a "significant way," but we'll have to see if HP's management decides to throw more good money after bad — at this point HP's taken a bigger hit trying to kill Palm than it did to buy it in the first place. Here's HP's breakdown of the webOS costs from the last quarter from its earnings call:

First, we took a total charge to operating income of $788 million. This was associated with the wind down of our webOS device business. This charge included a net revenue reduction of $142 million related to the sales incentive program, $548 million in costs of sales due to supplier-related obligations and inventory reserves, and $98 million in operating expenses and restructuring charges. Second, as a result of our decision to wind down webOS devices, we have taken an impairment expense of $885 million against the carrying value of goodwill and purchase intangible assets related to the acquisition of Palm.

In related news, HP's Personal Systems Group, which makes laptops and desktops, saw revenue decline two percent from last year, with consumer revenue specifically down nine percent. Whitman decided to keep PSG within HP after previous CEO Leo Apotheker floated the idea of selling it, but it'll have to turn those numbers around for the decision to be worth it.

We're on the investor call now, and we'll let you know if anyone says anything interesting.