Hewlett-Packard (HP) printers and computers on display in the lobby at the company's headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. (TONY AVELAR/BLOOMBERG)

The one-two punch announcement that Hewlett-Packard would be discontinuing its WebOS devices and selling its PC division hit the tech world hard. Speculation is rampant as to what HP will do with the WebOS platform and what this could mean for the future of PC computing.

We decided to collect some of the reactions we’ve seen around the Web at what is quickly becoming a critical period for the evolution of computer hardware and software.

Regarding the future of HP’s WebOS platform, ReadWriteWeb’s Dan Rowinski sees the discontinuation of HP’s WebOS hardware as a good thing:

Just because HP is not making hardware anymore does not mean that they are just going to throw away their billion-dollar investment. HP can support webOS in the same way that Google supports Android — as a platform provider and application evangelist. Freeing the hardware from HP means that webOS will probably be offered as a licensed operating system to any original equipment manufacturers.

Meanwhile, GigaOm’s Erica Ogg writes that HP’s decision is merely another step toward “the end of the PC era:”

Those companies looking to innovate won’t find much interesting about building PCs anymore either. Laptops will get faster processors, and marginally thinner. HP and Dell, along with the other top PC companies by volume (Acer, Lenovo and Toshiba) build essentially the same computer, with the same software, chips, and hardware. The only thing to scrap over is minor design flourishes and who can price theirs the cheapest–not exactly an inspiring business if you’re interested in being a part of mainstream personal computing advances. Or, for that matter, growth that will boost your stock and keep investors happy.

VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi cites HP’s decision as signaling vertical integration’s fall from grace. Citing the strength of HP’s printer business, due in large part to its sale of PCs, and it’s high-end server business, Takahashi writes:

HP has to think about these problems as it moves forward. And it is now learning one of the fundamental lessons of innovation. If you don’t come up with innovations such as the iPhone and the iPad, somebody else will and there will be hell to pay.

If you’re wondering what HP is doing away with, Russell Brand’s here to explain (as only he can) as part of HP's glossy, and now defunct, ad campaign.

Tweet — What do you think? Is this another nail in the coffin of the PC era? Can HP survive the excising of its PC and WebOS hardware business? Or does this mean nothing but good things for HP and the rest of the technology community?

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