Michael Mace's Take on the Future of WebOS

Michael Mace, has unsurprisingly chimed in via his Mobile Opportunity blog on yesterday's monumental news yesterday regarding HP's decision to discontinue all of their WebOS devices. Long-time Palm watchers will remember Mr. Mace as the former CCO of PalmSource, so he certainly brings to the table not only a greater familiarity with the Palm-companies but the continuing conflicts between the software and hardware sides of the business.

Mace first asserts that the sudden departure of HP CEO Mark Hurd last summer was the first nail in the WebOS coffin, and the feeble sales figures of the Pre 2, Veer, and TouchPad turned out to be the finishing blows. In between these two milestones, Mace claims that both Palm and HP tried too hard to mimic Apple and iOS (something I have thought ever since the CES 2009 unveiling of the Pre and WebOS) instead of differentiating themselves with a unique set of products. He of course references Palm's disastrous attempts to spoof the Pre as a generic iPod in iTunes back in 2009.

Mace does not feel that other hardware manufacturers will be lining up to license WebOS, despite this week's other stunning announcement of Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility (which Mace also gives some fascinating insight with his PalmSource experience in his column prior to this one). In fact, Mace conjectures that HP has likely been quietly shopping WebOS around for quite some time, only to be met with no willing takers. He also argues that the storied "Palm" brand, despite being absent most of the past year and with several years of tarnish prior to that, still carries more equity and recognition in the US than HP ever thought possible. I would also tend to agree with this statement.

Finally, Mace concludes with a somewhat controversial statement by claiming that the "real crown jewel" in the WebOS/Palm GBU is not the patent portfolio, as most have speculated, but rather in the product managers and engineers who have already been eliminated or are faced with great uncertainty after yesterday's surprise announcement.

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Unfortunately, Mace is an idiot. Ask ANYONE who knows him.

Fake Jeff Hawkins @ 8/20/2011 7:34:10 PM # Q
Dead wood like Mace are a BIG reason why Palm failed.


RE: Unfortunately, Mace is an idiot. Ask ANYONE who knows him.
hkklife @ 8/20/2011 7:56:53 PM # Q
But if they had never split into Palm0ne/PalmSource in the FIRST place, all of those characters and shenanigans never would have even happened!

When do you figure Palm's gradual decline really start? The USR acquisition of Palm? The 3Com acquisition of USR? When Jeff & Donna left in '98? The "very special" IPO? The split & spin-off in 2002?

I'd say somewhere around mid-late 2000 is when I began to think they were falling behind: the competition had discovered multimedia and color screens and Palm was still trying to flog the Palm V line...as nice of a design as it was, it was nothing more than repackaged Palm III innards which were 2 years old by that point (which would become a disturbingly familiar trend). The entire year of 2000 passed without Palm having any kind of high-end device to bridge the Vx to the m500.

Funny how Palm's stock sank throughout 2001 but their 2001 line of products (and their roadmap with OS4/5) were vastly better than what they had a year earlier during their sky-high IPO glory days.

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: Unfortunately, Mace is an idiot. Ask ANYONE who knows him.
gmayhak @ 8/20/2011 8:14:32 PM # Q
When Jeff & Donna left in '98?

Even before that, when others started taking control of Palm's future. Not saying Hawkins always gets it right (ref... his new spin on intelligent machines). (Why not reference Folieo? Because he didn't have enough say in the way it was implemented and it could have been a huge success).
But When Jeff & Donna walked away it told the world that Palm was starting downhill. They had more foresight ( info?) then the rest of the investors.

Tech Center Labs

RE: Unfortunately, Mace is an idiot. Ask ANYONE who knows him.
Fake Jeff Hawkins @ 8/20/2011 8:22:08 PM # Q
When do you figure Palm's gradual decline really start?

In 2000. It became obvious that the company only cared about milking the PDA fad until it was bone dry. Palm leadership were so arrogant that they did not feel the need to even TRY to innovate. Palm thought they could be clever with their licensees. The contract wording allowed Palm the rights to any advances introduced to the platform by licensees. Palm thought they could simply copy the work done by Sony, TRG, etc, slap a "Palm" name on it and sit back and watch people run up to Palm begging, "Shut up and take my money!"

Support nosedived in 2000 as well. Remember the old days when they would advance ship you a replacement device if something went wrong? Contrast that with the Palm that (Oliver North-style) denied any wrongdoing with the Treo 700p, LifeDrive, etc...


RE: Unfortunately, Mace is an idiot. Ask ANYONE who knows him.
jca666us @ 8/20/2011 8:37:19 PM # M Q
No idea if Mace is an idiot, but his assessment of HP's bungling of the palm acquisition and webos is spot on.
RE: Unfortunately, Mace is an idiot. Ask ANYONE who knows him.
Fake Jeff Hawkins @ 8/22/2011 2:49:06 PM # Q
Ask any of the oldtimers at Palm about Mace - he was a running joke back then. No one had a clue WTF he actually DID to earn his paycheck. His title was "CCO" - hilarious. What the hell was that supposed to mean? To put it bluntly he was simply another ex-Apple reject given a job by another ex-Apple reject that was working for Palm at the time. That's how things work in Silly Con Valley: hire your old colleagues (no matter how incompetent they are) because sooner or later you'll also be looking for a job and someone you know will return the favor.

Here's some prime Mace grandstanding:


He's about as astute a pundit as Auntie Mike Cane. No one who knows ANYTHING about the industry takes him seriously. I wish Ruby was around to do his Mace impersonation...


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When the decline started

Michael Mace @ 8/22/2011 11:26:12 AM # Q
Hkklife asked:

>>When do you figure Palm's gradual decline really start?

I think the departure of Donna and Jeff was a huge factor, and I agree about the product mistakes as well. But the turning point that stands out to me is the company's reaction to the bursting of the doc-com bubble.

Palm had just gone public, something that's supposed to give you money to invest in growing the business. But then the stock market collapsed, and the company's senior management decided they needed to cut spending in order to support the stock price.

Among the investments cut was a big TV advertising campaign focused on the base of Palm OS applications. Who knows, maybe the ad campaign wouldn't have made any difference. But I think it was Palm's chance to get mainstream people interested in mobile devices, the way Apple did with the iPhone years later.

Instead, the growth of handhelds eventually stalled out, and the company got caught in a cycle of cutting expenses and slowing growth. It never broke out of it.

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