Comments on: HP Reportedly 'Not Walking Away from WebOS'

Writing in an Palm insider inspired post, Joshua Topolsky of This is my next… reports on the details of an all-hands meeting HP held today with employees in the webOS Global Business Unit. The piece provides some minor clarity on the future of WebOS yet still leaves a lot of questions about the platforms future role still up in the air.

In the meeting, webOS GBU VP Stephen DeWitt made it clear that HP intends to continue to work on webOS and likely intends to license it. DeWitt was adamant, saying several times "We are not walking away from webOS."

[…] DeWitt said that there would be staff reductions, but told the team that the company needs people "that are serious about winning" and again reiterated HP's commitment to developing webOS as a platform. Both DeWitt and Bradley were clear that the current business model of webOS wasn't working primarily due to lackluster hardware, arguing that HP needed to stop "trying to force non-competitive products into the market."

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LiveFaith @ 8/19/2011 2:04:01 AM # Q
How can these people make a shocking announcement that goes contrary to everything they've said publicly for 15 months. Then follow it up with "were gonna do something but were not sure what" and "were going to make a decision over the next two weeks" etc.

Am I missing something here, or are we not talking about a deal that's already cost them around 2 BILLION dollars? I know HP has it, but $2B is still TWO FREAKIN' BILLION DOLLARS. Yet, they handle the transition like THIS. Then come off with a "two week decision" to see what were going to do!

Did they make the decision to pull the plug on this whole thing Wednesday night or something?

How can any corporation survive even for a little while, with this kind of management? What business school do you learn principles like this in?

If I thot even a possible $250 million selloff or licensing deal was possibly in the wings, then I sure would not do it this way. They should be saying "here is how were going to reposition this 'asset' to bring the greatest shareholder value over X term." They are saying "we've screwed up, but still have an asset. Unfortunately, we are changing the plan, but don't know what to do yet".

I've made my share of bad investments over the years, but thank God I don't own HP. God bless the poor souls who do.

Pat Horne

RE: How?
jca666us @ 8/19/2011 2:38:51 AM # M Q
They should have definitely had lined up actual licensees before announcing anything.

What a total abysmal failure - who in their right mind would license it?

I feel sorry for anyone who paid $499 -$699 for this last month - only to get abandoned by HP today.

HP should just sell the rotting carcass which is currently webos and the patent library to Google, Microsoft, or Apple.

Then we might actually see aspects of webos live on and thrive in some form.

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PalmSource 2.0?

T_W @ 8/19/2011 2:06:52 AM # Q
This won't be nearly as big as ALPOS
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been to these meetings many times

NuShrike @ 8/19/2011 12:49:39 PM # Q
It's nothing more than internal damage-control meeting because it was an upper-level decision made without consulting the people "on the ground".

My experience from this is "GET OUT NOW". Don't listen to the soothing words from the execs.

Get those CVs cleaned up and GET OUT NOW.
Palm III->Sony NR610C->Sony NR70->Sony NX80->Palm T|X->HTC Kaiser->HTC Fuze->Acer M900->HTC HD2->HTC G2+NookColor

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WebOS 2011 = BeOS 1996

Fake Jeff Hawkins @ 8/20/2011 7:44:43 PM # Q
2011: HP's decision to shut down the phone and tablets division might have surprised many, but the acquired Palm WebOS will live on, says Senior VP, Stephen DeWitt

1996: BeOS will survive and flourish, says Be CEO Jean-Louis Gassée

BeOS Wikipedia summary:
Initially designed to run on AT&T Hobbit-based hardware, BeOS was later modified to run on PowerPC-based processors: first Be's own systems, later Apple Inc.'s PowerPC Reference Platform and Common Hardware Reference Platform, with the hope that Apple would purchase or license BeOS as a replacement for its then aging Mac OS Classic.[2] Apple CEO Gil Amelio started negotiations to buy Be Inc., but negotiations stalled when Be CEO Jean-Louis Gassée wanted $200 million; Apple was unwilling to offer any more than $125 million. Apple's board of directors decided NeXTSTEP was a better choice and purchased NeXT in 1996 for $429 million, bringing back Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.[3]

In 1997, Power Computing began bundling BeOS (on a CD for optional installation) with its line of PowerPC-based Macintosh clones. These systems could dual boot either the Mac OS or BeOS, with a start-up screen offering the choice.

Due to Apple's moves and the mounting debt of Be Inc., BeOS was soon ported to the Intel x86 platform with its R3 release in March 1998. Through the late 1990s, BeOS managed to create a niche of followers, but the company failed to remain viable. As a last-ditch effort to increase interest in the failing operating system, Be Inc. released a stripped-down, but free, copy of BeOS R5 known as BeOS Personal Edition (BeOS PE). BeOS PE could be started from within Microsoft Windows or Linux, and was intended to nurture consumer interest in its product and give developers something to tinker with.

Be Inc. also released a stripped-down version of BeOS for Internet Appliances (BeIA), which soon became the company's business focus in place of BeOS. BeOS PE and BeIA proved to be too little too late, and in 2001 Be's copyrights were sold to Palm, Inc. for some $11 million. BeOS R5 is considered the last official version, but BeOS R5.1 "Dano", which was under development before Be's sale to Palm and included the BeOS Networking Environment (BONE) networking stack, was leaked to the public shortly after the company's demise.

In 2002, Be Inc. sued[4] Microsoft claiming that Hitachi had been dissuaded from selling PCs loaded with BeOS, and that Compaq had been pressured not to market an Internet appliance in partnership with Be. BeOS also claimed that Microsoft acted to artificially depress Be Inc.'s initial public offering (IPO). The case was eventually settled out of court[5] for $23.25 million with no admission of liability on Microsoft's part.

After the split from Palm, PalmSource used parts of BeOS' multimedia framework for their failed Palm OS Cobalt product.[6] With the takeover of PalmSource, the BeOS rights now belong to Access Co.

RE: WebOS 2011 = BeOS 1996
hkklife @ 8/20/2011 8:23:39 PM # Q
I really, really think that as SOON as Mark Hurd was shown the door, HP's braintrust began having IMMENSE buyer's remorse over the Palm acquisition. Once Leo came onboard, I think they decided to stick a fork in WebOS (at least the hardware) and/or strictly committed X number of $ to it and the lion's share of that went to the TouchPad and (foolishly) to the Veer. So many of the mind-blowing poor decisions and lies over the past year now make sense in light of this week's big news:

-Deciding to keep WebOS 2.x from all legacy smartphones. Like Palm trying to pretend their PDAs never existed (and later, Garnet/Palm OS), HP wanted to erase nearly all traces of the old Palm-branded products b/c they knew they weren't going to be in this hardware game for the long haul. Shutting out all of your first-gen OS customers and only having two slow-selling products running your "current-gen" OS makes it SOOO much easier to abandon all of that hardware overnight.

-The relative lack of progress made from WebOS 1.x to 3.x. Really, aside from the virtual keybaord and moving from Mojo to Enyo and the usual screen resolution and upscaled UI elements, the TouchPad has VERY little added functionality over a 2+ year old Pre. In some cases (Camera app, clock, calculator) it shipped with even less functionality. Again, shades of the BB Playbook.

-The puzzling decision to push the Veer over the relatively eagerly anticipated Pre 3. It's like they WANTED to ensure the failure of the new hardware (hmmm).

-The Pre 2 was 99.9% done under the Palm regime before the acquisition. I would say the Veer was 75% or 80% done and the Pre3 was probably spec'd out and most of the basic engineering done by Palm prior to the acquisition. The TouchPad hardware was a mishmash of new tech (the Snapdragon SoC), HP's aborted Android tablet from a year ago and maybe some misc components from the Slate 500. It was definitely not a brand-new custom design. I'll wager that HP actually spent very little $ (or if they did, it was spent poorly) in the way of new hardware designs. In all likelihood, the 7" TouchPad Go is the only truly new design to meld WebOS with HP's hardware capabilities and it'll likely never see the light of day.

-The massive Obsorne effect between the Feb TouchPad and Pre3/Veer announcement is also best explained by all of this. I only wonder why HP ordered so many damn TouchPads from their Asian contract manufacturers. You'd think they would have done a small run of Veer, Pre 3, and TPs and said they were "preparing for the next-generation" and then pulled the plug with very little inventory left in the channel.

-My question is what would HP have done if the TP had launched and been a massive iPad-style hit? I have no clue. I think that if it had launched to moderate success everything would still have been doomed eventually but initial sales success in July would have given the entire WebOS family a 6-month reprieve. They would have released the Pre 3, TouchPad Go and TouchPad 4G in quantity and pushed them all at least through the holidays. But I think that the rumored TouchPad2 with retina display was canned VERY early on. HP probably knew 8-12 months ago they were getting out of the WebOS hardware game. The iPad 2 launch this past Jan and the disappointing debuts of the Xoom/PlayBook probably sealed the deal for them. The only question was how soon they would get out. Remember there is no tablet market. Just an iPad market. Everything else is table scraps. It's like looking at the domestic cola market beyond Coke if Pepsi didn't exist.

-With all of this said and done, I think the best thing in hindsight for HP to have done would have been to announce a strategic realignment back last Dec/Jan/Feb (before the big WebOS "event" in Feb) and say that all future hardware was being cancelled and they were going to aggressively pursue courting licensees instead. Had they done a Foleo-style cancelation before it hit the market, they would have saved a lot of $ and face.
Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p->Verizon Moto Droid + Verizon Palm Centro-> Verizon Moto Droid X + Palm TX

RE: WebOS 2011 = BeOS 1996
Fake Jeff Hawkins @ 8/20/2011 8:41:32 PM # Q
If HP was serious about making webOS a success then why did they do the following:

1) Spec cheap-feeling hardware for the ouchPad?
2) Fail to launch an iPhone 4 or Galaxy S quality phone running webOS 6 months ago?
3) Create another STUPID advertising campaign?
4) Fail to advance the OS quickly?
5) Give up so quickly?

With HP's massive resources there is ZERO excuse for any of the above. Unless the Fifth Column is indeed operational within HP, Elop-style...

Fake Jeff Hawkins

RE: WebOS 2011 = BeOS 1996
gmayhak @ 8/20/2011 8:54:56 PM # Q
HP have been relying on their HP brand for a long time, their innovation stopped years ago. Now it's "buy a lot of companies and see what we can sell".

Tech Center Labs

RE: WebOS 2011 = BeOS 1996
hkklife @ 8/20/2011 11:22:10 PM # Q
Fake Jeff Hawkins wrote:
If HP was serious about making webOS a success then why did they do the following:

1) Spec cheap-feeling hardware for the ouchPad?
2) Fail to launch an iPhone 4 or Galaxy S quality phone running webOS 6 months ago?
3) Create another STUPID advertising campaign?
4) Fail to advance the OS quickly?
5) Give up so quickly?

With HP's massive resources there is ZERO excuse for any of the above. Unless the Fifth Column is indeed operational within HP, Elop-style...

Fake Jeff Hawkins

#1 Other than their Envy line, the Blackbird and some of their higher-end biz machines, HP specs cheap plastic crap for everything, especially their printers and lower-end notebooks. Also, remember the iSuppli breakdown of the TouchPad? Someone also said a few weeks go that HP went with a bigger case (as I said before, likely a recycled formfactor from a 2010-era iPad 1 clone to run Android) b/c they could do modular assembly like PCs and have shorter product cycles & do stuff like easily update CPUs or RAM on the fly.

#2 Again, HP took whatever Palm had that was nearly ready to go (Veer & Pre3) and went with the one closer to being production ready. If I were HP, I'd have killed that silly Veer IMMEDIATELY or at least tried to cram a standard microUSB port in there. They should have just rushed the Pre 3 into production. It has mid-2010 smartphone hardware specs, so there really should be no reason for its continued delays. Then I'd have quickly developerd a 4.1"+ slab phone running WebOS 3.x and a Droid 3-style landscape slider with a 3.7 to 4" screen . The TP's virtual keyboard is actually very good so it would have likely made a nice transition to an all-touchscreen smartphone. HP has more experience than anyone with touchscreen all-in-one desktop PCs and convertible Wintel notebooks. There's no excuse for them not being able to whip up at least 2-3 solid smartphones.

3. HP has generally had horrible consumer-oriented campaigns for years. Ugly fonts (that spindly Harry Potter-esque one they were using until recently was hideous), no cohesive message, etc.

4. This is probably the most unforgivable sin of them all, given their vast resources. Why did they even bother with WebOS 2.x? Look how much iOS and Android advanced from 1.x to 3.x. WebOS has very, very little to show with its progressions over a longer period of time (especially compared to Android). I am sure there will be some juicy insider stories coming out over the next few months that will make the "slave" videos someone put on HP's site yesterday pale in comparison.

5. Again, buyer's remorse. They should have just kiled the entire WebOS hardware range after the release of the Pre 2 and made a clear, concise, and bold statement as such 8-10 months ago that they were becoming a software house and would be courting hardware licensees.

The only possible glimmer of hope is to sell the Palm GBU and its IP to Samsung. Either way, WebOS is toast as far as an active OS in the marketplace.
Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p->Verizon Moto Droid + Verizon Palm Centro-> Verizon Moto Droid X + Palm TX

RE: WebOS 2011 = BeOS 1996
jca666us @ 8/21/2011 5:06:10 AM # Q
I don't know if I'd say buyer's remorse, it was more like Apotheker inheriting Hurd's baby (Palm/WebOS buyout) and:

a. Not having the competency to properly nurture/raise it.
b. Not dedicating appropriate resources to it because he didn't want it.
c. Not properly promoting it, because he wanted to move HP into a different direction.

Even if Apotheker always intended to move HP in the direction of a services company, he seriously screwed the pooch with his dismantling of HP's consumer business.

They should not have announced any of this crap right during their conference call.

Line up a buyer or buyers and have a webos transition in place (in addition to the sale of Palm's patent portfolio).

Instead Apotheker initiated fear and uncertainty into webos and HP's future - and the stock tanked for it. All because while their consumer branch was profitable, it wasn't profitable "enough" - what an idiot!

I need a new laser printer; HP was at the top of my list. Now, no way in Hell would I purchase an HP printer now.

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There are no American troops in Baghdad!

Fake Jeff Hawkins @ 8/21/2011 2:12:31 PM # M Q
Baghdad Leo (Apotheker) has certainly spewed a LOT of B.S. over the past year. He would be wise to remember what became of his Iraqi idol...

Fake Jeff Hawkins

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