I wonder if they are doing this as a "status symbol" of sorts.... or is it that HP realizes that Microsoft/Windows is losing its edge.
HP, MS and Intel used to march in lockstep, but now it's looking like members of the monopoly no longer have 100% confidence in each other. Microsoft building its own hardware (phones, tablet), HP having bought Palm and now this $500,000 membership, and Intel is doing its best to produce a mobile-sized x86 chip to compete with the ARM architecture.
Who knows what is really going on at HP, but it's starting to look like due to the market re-balancing itself towards mobile (in the last 5 years), the major players know that the old strategy of the '90s isn't going to work for them much longer. Each is on their own now, and in the mobile sphere Android is taking the place of Windows and ARM chips taking the place of x86 as the generic components available to everyone, from big name companies to hole-in-the-wall Chinese hardware vendors.
I do hope that HP will keep webOS in mind and not just go with the herd, but sacrifices will have to be made on their part and i don't know how much effort they are willing to put into getting webOS to be competitive again... there are perceptive customers and there are drones that will buy whatever their neighbor bought, there are pushy and dishonest salespeople, there are those hordes of apps that people expect to have on hand, so many factors that have to be taken care of.... webOS would have to start out with a "bad year" sales-wise, until people warm up to it again....
it's a choice of either being "the other Apple", or crawling under the desk and dying, because being "the other Android" just won't sell...