HP has confirmed that a round of layoffs in its webOS division is now underway. Although the company declined to provide an actual number, AllThingsD is reporting that the move will affect as many as 525 employees in the hardware division. The company says it's still committed to webOS as a platform, and as such its software development team was not affected by the layoffs, but at this point it's doubtful that the OS will have much of a future.
A spokesperson for HP commented: "As communicated on August 18, HP will discontinue the development of webOS devices within the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2011, which ends Oct 31 2011. As part of this decision, the webOS GBU [general business unit] is undergoing a reduction in workforce. Today's actions are part of this initiative. During this time, we stand by our commitment to our webOS customers and will work to ensure that support and service for customers are not adversely affected. HP is exploring ways to leverage webOS software."
The company acquired webOS in April 2010 when it took over Palm for $1.2 billion and just over a year later decided to halt all tablet and smartphone projects. The TouchPad tablet was pulled after just three months on the market; ironically becoming a success only after its price was slashed to $100 and $150 for the 16GB and 32GB models, respectively.
The company is considering the possibility of licensing webOS to a third-party or perhaps resurrecting if it decides to spin off its PC hardware business. A handful of companies have also been rumored to be eyeing a webOS purchase but most have denied their interest, so it's not clear if that's even a viable option for HP.