Hewlett-Packard on Thursday said that it would discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad tablets and smartphones. It also confirmed that it is exploring the possible spin-off or sale of its Personal Systems Group (PSG), which dominates the global PC market, PC World reports.

The company's board of directors has authorized HP to explore options for the PSG unit. HP will consider a broad range of options that may include, among others, a full or partial separation of PSG from HP through a spin-off or other transaction, the company said in a statement.

Electronics retailer Harvey Norman has ordered its franchisees to pull thousands of webOS-powered HP TouchPads off the shelves today, after the product manufacturer, Hewlett-Packard said overnight that it would no longer be producing the device.

I'm taking a very proactive view on this, rather than waiting and waiting, McIntosh told ZDNet Australia.

Because I can't be sure that webOS won't be supported ongoing, I've instructed my franchisees to take the TouchPad off the shelves. Not because HP told me to, just because we can't be sure if they're going to [be supported in future], McIntosh added.

Speaking with ZDNet Australia after crisis talks with HP Australia, Harvey Norman's general manager of Computers, Ben McIntosh, said that the decision to stop selling the device was a reaction to the uncertain future of the webOS platform.

Harvey Norman scored an exclusive deal to retail the first Australian shipment of the HP TouchPad through its franchise network, and had taken delivery of 6000 units in the first shipment.

According to CNET, who contacted HP to find out what the company plans to offer in terms of support for its existing WebOS products. An HP spokesman sent a one-sentence statement: HP stands by its customers. We will continue to support existing products.