Print 15 comment(s) - last by justjc.. on Oct 12 at 5:56 PM

HP looks to wash its hands of Palm

Fans of Palm, Inc. surely loathe the world's largest computer maker, Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ).  After all, HP purchased Palm and its webOS mobile operating system in April 2010 and then succeeded to run it into the ground in less than a year and a half.  But there's hope yet for webOS fans as HP is reportedly near to announcing plans to either sell or spin off the languishing Palm unit.

While webOS still has some loyal fans, it's now essentially dead on the market.  Once viewed as the strongest competitor to Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) iPhone, Palm's mismanagement led to its 2010 fire sale to HP.  If Palm was in bad shape before the sale, it quickly found itself in an even worse position.  HP refused to invest the capital necessary to make the webOS devices serious market entrants, squandering the strong mobile operating system that Palm had maintained and produced.

A spinoff of the Palm unit is a possible, but unlikely outcome.  A new Palm, Inc. would likely lack the cash necessary to offer a competitive hardware lineup, and lack the influence necessary to attract third parties to a licensing-driven scheme, particularly in the packed smartphone market.

The most likely final outcome is a sale of webOS (or what's left of it) to a mobile hardware maker interested in using the OS on some of its devices.  Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (SEO 005930) already unequivocally stated that it had no interest in buying webOS.  Thus the most likely bidders would seemingly be Taiwan's HTC Corp. (SEO:066570), Amazon, Inc. (AMZN), or Google Inc. (GOOG) (who could use parts of webOS, e.g. its slick multi-tasking interface to improve the Android operating system).

Package and parcel with the webOS deal would be the slick new Enyo javascript web app suite.  That package was shown to run webOS apps on Apple's iPad, and should be a decent fit for virtually any modern mobile platform.

It's important, though, to remember that much of the talent on the webOS team has already left or been laid off.  Thus if a third party takes on the platform, it will have significant rebuilding work to do, to restore the webOS team to full functionality.

Source: Apple Insider

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By Flunk on 10/11/2011 12:31:47 PM , Rating: 3
I hope Google buys it, the last thing we programmers need is another viable smartphone OS.

RE: Super
By AlvinCool on 10/11/2011 2:19:54 PM , Rating: 3
If I were Google I would. They should be able to get it for peanuts, use parts of it in Android and add to their patent portfolio

RE: Super
By dagamer34 on 10/11/11, Rating: -1
RE: Super
By Etsp on 10/11/2011 4:57:50 PM , Rating: 5
Who in their right minds would buy an OS project, but not the patents that it depends on? "We'll give you the source code, but you can't use any of it in anything. If you do, we'll sue."

RE: Super
By Samus on 10/11/2011 9:30:23 PM , Rating: 1
Google will undoubtedly buy it. This will make the Motorola purchase look like a run down the slip'n'slide when you consider the practical patents for multitouch gestures, the most well-rounded Java license in the mobile industry, and various great hardware designs such as the gesture area and the Touchstone.

If you've seen a TouchPad, you already know its the closest copy of an iPad ever made. It is the same exact shape, size, and layout (all the way down to a single face button and top-right corner power button.) Even the packaging it comes in is nearly identical to Apple, but that actually applies to most HP mobile devices including the Pre 3 and Veer.

Apple never threatened to sue HP over the iTouchPad, even when it had potential for success in June, because they knew they couldn't win. Palm had all the patents , and that is what HP was originally after in the first place, that is, before they decided to stop making mobile hardware a year later.

RE: Super
By johnsonx on 10/11/2011 11:10:05 PM , Rating: 1
I keep wondering why the TouchPad has a front-facing button at all. webOS 3.0.2 rendered it superfluous, and I never touch it. whenever I use someone's iphone or particularly any android, I'm puzzled by the need to keep pressing a particular button to do this or that.

RE: Super
By Samus on 10/12/2011 9:42:19 AM , Rating: 1
Without powerswiping, you need the front-face "tasks/home" button; getting people on to the idea of powerswiping isn't immediately effective as doing so isn't supported until you install Preware and a system modification (presumably not to infringe on others' IP.)

So out of the box, a front face button is obviously required.

RE: Super
By Jeffk464 on 10/11/2011 9:49:14 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe Microsoft should buy it, they could finally have a competitive phone OS. Na really, I agree there is only so much room for phone OS's. Lets face it their is a lot of advantage to having the same OS that everybody else has.

RE: Super
By justjc on 10/12/2011 5:56:50 PM , Rating: 2
Why not just make Web apps using HTML5?

The idea of every app needing to be programmed for a certain device seems to only live on with greedy programmers who realize that they will earn more if they convince people that they need to make a new one for each device instead of a web based one that is able to adapt to a new device with minor code changes. After all how many apps really need access to more functionality than that found in the browser?

By chmilz on 10/11/2011 12:30:38 PM , Rating: 3
It's the only way to describe the epic failure happening at HP right now.

RE: Awesome!
By IcePickFreak on 10/11/2011 2:10:04 PM , Rating: 2
I sure hope this doesn't mean the CEOs will have to go without bonuses this year because of this! Oh wait, they're an American company, of course they won't. *whew*

RE: Awesome!
By sviola on 10/11/2011 2:20:26 PM , Rating: 2
This reminds me of a Simpsons episode, where a company is shutting down and the guy says to Homer that the worst was that the CEO only receive a few million (I think it was 50 million) and Homer says something in the lines of "Oh no, only that, how is he going to make it?"

By bauermundo on 10/11/2011 3:58:39 PM , Rating: 2
Your source (Apple Insider) says they expect an announcement this week. Unless I'm missing something I see no indication that this announcement is happening today.

By drycrust3 on 10/11/2011 7:55:48 PM , Rating: 2
particularly in the packed smartphone market

The importance of Palm isn't so much in the smartphone market as in the wider tablet market. It has been said that in the next 4 years hundreds of millions of mobile devices will be sold as people migrate from fixed point internet access to mobile internet access. If HP had played their cards right then they would already have WebOS tablets (and possibly Android tablets as well) in stores that were competitively priced against the iPad, and they may have got the lion's share of that hundreds of millions of sales.
Considering the outrage from HP's Directors when an experimental Touchpad with Android on it escaped from the lab, when the Directors should have been expressing delight at someone using their initiative, it is hardly surprising Palm and the whole PC division are being flogged off.

By johnsonx on 10/11/2011 11:05:11 PM , Rating: 2
nothing was announced today, but I'm sure it's coming soon. I keep hoping for good news, but I expect whatever the announcement is it will signal the effective end of webOS. HP has screwed it up so badly, I don't think anyone can save it now. the most obvious path is for someone to buy webos for the patents and to take some of its features for their own OS. whether that's google, amazon, apple or microsoft, none of them would continue webOS as a separate OS as it is now.

I'm hoping what actually is announced is that HP is keeping webOS but will contract with HTC or Samsung to make the devices. Won't happen though.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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