Tag Archives | HP WebOS

Why WebOS Failed

From the start, lot of people (me included) loved a lot of things about WebOS, the mobile operating system that debuted on Palm’s Pre smartphone in 2009. We thought it had a shot at being serious competition for Apple–or at least we hoped it might. But my friend Brian X. Chen of The New York Times has a smart piece that makes the case that WebOS was doomed to disappoint, because its technical underpinnings and use of Web technologies made for a slow and generally disappointing experience:

“Palm was ahead of its time in trying to build a phone software platform using Web technology, and we just weren’t able to execute such an ambitious and breakthrough design,” said Paul Mercer, former senior director of software at Palm, who oversaw the interface design of WebOS and recruited crucial members of the team. “Perhaps it never could have been executed because the technology wasn’t there yet.”

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HP Open-Sources WebOS

At last, we know what’s next for WebOS

HP plans to continue to be active in the development and support of webOS. By combining the innovative webOS platform with the development power of the open source community, there is the opportunity to significantly improve applications and web services for the next generation of devices.

This could turn out to be good news. But even if it does, it might be years before we know for sure. (Mozilla was open-sourced by Netscape in 1998, but wasn’t until 2004–when Firefox was released–that it was clear the platform had a bright future. 
TechCrunch’s Leena Rao is reporting that HP says it’ll do a new WebOS tablet–I’m already thinking of it as the TouchPad II–but it may not show up until 2013. I wonder what the tablet market will be like by then?

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WebOS: No News is Bad News

HP’s Meg Whitman called an all-hands meeting about the future of WebOS. The big news is…there is no big news.

Josh Topolsky of The Verge reports:

HP CEO Meg Whitman just told a room full of Palm and HP employees that the company doesn’t yet know what to do with webOS. “It’s really important to me to make the right decision, not the fast decision,” she told those gathered with her on the HP campus, adding that a decision would come in the next three to four weeks. This comes as a bit of a surprise, as reports recently swirled that the computer-maker has been in discussions to sell of the troubled mobile platform to the highest bidder. “If HP decides [to keep webOS], we’re going to do it in a very significant way over a multi-year period,” she said, adding that “it’s a very expensive proposition, but HP can make that bet.”

You can’t fault Whitman for being flummoxed here. The combined actions of her two predecessors, Mark Hurd and Léo Apotheker, conspired to leave WebOS in the worst possible situation. Unless some brilliant white knight we don’t know about arrives on the scene, the only happy outcome involves Whitman reversing Apotheker’s decision to get out of the WebOS hardware business–and HP then somehow designing and marketing one or more tablets that are so good that everyone agrees the company is giving the iPad serious competition.

What do you think the chances are that’ll happen?

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The End–Once and For All?–of WebOS

Sad but not surprising: The Guardian’s Charles Arthur is reporting that HP, having failed to find anyone who wants to buy WebOS, is giving up:

Despite HP’s attempts to find a potential buyer or licencee for webOS – which ran on the short-lived TouchPad – there has been no apparent interest outside the company. Sir Howard Stringer, chief executive of Sony, told the Guardian on Thursday that he had no immediate interest in buying or licensing it after completing the acquisition of the rest of the Sony Ericsson business. And early suggestions that HTC might purchase it have also fallen away.

Some have suggested that Amazon might buy webOS, seeing the presence on the Amazon board of ex-Palm chief executive and HP executive Jon Rubinstein, who previously worked for Apple. But there is no indication that Amazon is interested in acquiring another operating system; it is using its own version of Google’s Android software for its new Kindle Fire device.


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Amazon to Buy Palm?

VentureBeat’s Devindra Hardawar is reporting that Amazon.com is seriously interested in buying WebOS from HP, the company that bought Palm for $1.2 billion and then killed the TouchPad after six weeks.

The Kindle Fire is powered by Android, but it’s been heavily customized by Amazon to the point where you can barely tell. By purchasing the remnants of Palm, Amazon would have free rein to redesign webOS to its own liking, and it would be able to further differentiate its Kindle devices from the slew of Android tablets in the market.

It would be swell if the WebOS saga ended happily, and I can’t think of a better candidate than Amazon to figure out how to do well by the software. Then again, I once thought that HP could be a good home for it, too…


Mace on the WebOS Meltdown

Michael Mace–who used to work at Palm–has some smart thoughts on this week’s WebOS drama:

If you believe that every smartphone company needs to own its own OS, we ought to see a mad bidding war between LG, HTC, Sony Ericsson, Dell, and maybe Samsung to buy Web OS.  (The loser could get RIM as a consolation prize.)  Maybe a buyout will still happen, but I think HP has probably been quietly shopping Web OS for a while, and if there were interest it would have tried to close a deal before today’s announcement.


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WebOS: The Trying-Really-Hard-to-Be-an-Optimist’s View

I’m still reeling from the news that HP is getting out of the WebOS hardware business. So is the whole blogosphere. And a lot of it has written off WebOS, period. A lot of stories are talking about the OS in the past tense.

But HP hasn’t said that it’s scrapping WebOS. Its press release about its planned “transformation”–a refocusing on enterprise stuff and a move away from most consumer products, including even PCs–said only this about WebOS:

HP will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones. The devices have not met internal milestones and financial targets. HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward.

That’s wishy-washy for sure. But it’s not saying that it’s giving up on WebOS–just that it’s giving up on its current WebOS hardware. (As far as I know, the company hasn’t said what it plans to do with the WebOS printers it’s repeatedly said that it’s working on. They might yet appear–presumably, development of the first models is far along at this point, and “Would I buy a WebOS printer?” is an utterly different question than “Would I buy a WebOS tablet?)

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