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HP trims Jornada unit in Singapore

In line with an earlier decision to drop the Jornada in favor of the more popular Compaq iPaq handhelds, the computing giant is shuffling employees out of the division.

SINGAPORE--Hewlett-Packard has shuffled employees out of its Jornada Pocket PC development unit in Singapore, as the company continues to cut costs following its merger with Compaq Computer.

Jornada products are developed in Singapore and will be phased out by year's end, with the exception of Jornada 720, which resembles a mini-notebook. The model will eventually be rebranded as an HP iPaq device.

In line with a May decision to drop the Jornada in favor of the more popular Compaq iPaq handhelds, the entire Jornada team in Singapore was disbanded last month, according to sources.

When contacted, HP would not reveal the number of employees affected. The company reportedly has about 100 engineers and designers here for the Pocket PC, first introduced in April 2000.

"HP will redeploy as many people in the Jornada team as possible to other business units," said company representative Cecilia Pang, who declined to provide details.

HP's $18.7 billion acquisition of Compaq was concluded on May 3. By combining, the two companies hope to reduce yearly costs by $2.5 billion, mainly from cutting 15,000 jobs worldwide.

Currently, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based computing giant employs about 4,000 employees in Singapore, including staff from Compaq. HP has yet to reveal the scale of its job cuts here, but analysts expect Singapore to be the hardest hit in Asia-Pacific.

Plans for the already announced Jornada 928 are also being re-evaluated. The device, which features telephony capabilities, was scheduled to ship worldwide by end of the year.

Projects hanging in the balance include an August trial with the Singapore Police Force, involving 150 units of the Jornada 928. The pilot was to enable policemen to wirelessly access criminal and vehicle registration records, as well as to capture and upload pictures of stolen vehicles to the police intranet.

HP earlier said the company is developing an iPaq product with integrated wireless capabilities for release this year.

Pang added that Jornada customers will continue to get support from HP's service centers, although she did not specify the timeframe.

CNETAsia's Irene Tham reported from Singapore.