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  (Source: Gigaom)
Computer maker says no to progress, drops another shovel of dirt on webOS's grave

In a further blow to those hoping for a webOS revival Jon Rubinstein, the iconic Palm CEO who supervised the creation of the webOS-powered Pre, has been released from his executive post at Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ).  

I. A Failure of Vision

HP has been on a mess roller coaster ride over the last year shuffling CEOs and even contemplating spinning off the heart of its company -- the consumer PC business.  The change in leadership has also led HP to effectively abandon its hope of being a viable player in the mobile tablet/smart phone space.

The company blew $1.2B USD to acquire Palm Inc. in April 2010, in what seemed like a promising move for both companies at the time.  Palm still had a legion of firm supporters, and while it was no longer the iPhone competitor it was once was (and which Android became) it still had a shot.

That shot was killed by HP's floundering board and hapless new executive leadership.  The webOS product line was officially discontinued in Aug. 2011.  Meanwhile HP seemed to be combing through its ranks removing all the one-time supporters [1][2][3] of webOS.

Seppuku wide
"I didn't know there was such a thing as corporate suicide, but now we know that there is.  It's just astonishing." -- Ex-HP Board Chairman Tom Perkins on the company's struggles
[Image Source: Euro-Synergies]

After HP became the second major company in two years to fire Léo Apotheker from its CEO spot for poor performace, new CEO Meg Whitman reported shopped around webOS to prospective buyers.  But her asking price of $1.2B USD -- what HP had paid for it before it desecrated the remains of Palm -- was reportedly considered laughable by serious buyer prospects like Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (KS:005930).

Unsurprisingly no buyer was found.

II. Jon Rubinstein Departs to More Fertile Shores

Today HP has open sourced webOS, essentially giving away for free the product that months before it had hope to get a billion dollars for.

HP was quiet about the departure of Mr. Rubinstein.  They would only say, when reached for comment by The Verge, "Jon has fulfilled his commitment and we wish him well."

Jon Rubinstein
Jon Rubinstein, father of the iPod and Palm Pre [Image Source: CellPassion]

Ultimately this is likely a smart career move for Mr. Rubinstein, who originally gained fame as the creator of the iPod at Apple, Inc. (AAPL).  Mr. Rubinstein has put out solid products at companies who have ambition, companies who have the willingness to take risks in the mobile space -- attributes that are sorely lacking at HP.

Sadly for webOS fans, this is one more sign that the beloved platform is taking its final ride into the glow of the twilight.  As HP reassigns the remainder of the webOS skeleton crew who weren't laid off yet, Mr. Rubinstein's departure serves as perhaps the final reminder that once there was a company named Palm, a company with two decades of bold mobile vision, a company whose final spark of life was extinguished by HP.

(AllThingsDigitals reports that Mr. Rubinstein has been absent from the office for months, in silent protest of Mr. Apotheker's decision to kill webOS, and that HP only now got around to clarifying his status.)

Sources: The Verge, AllThingsD

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RE: sigh...
By JasonMick on 1/27/2012 4:25:46 PM , Rating: 2
I have a Touchpad during the $99 fire sale.

Honestly I'm not sure what the fuss is about. I use it only for web browsing, and frankly it's not a great experience at all. I find it very slow in loading web pages. It can't handle if I double tap the screen to zoom into text in a web page unless I let it finish loading the page completely.

The tablet is also fat and heavy. HP and Palm must have been on crack if they thought the Touchpad was going to be competitive against the iPad.

As a fellow Touchpad clearance addition owner (I got mine for $88 -- thanks discount code), I somewhat agree with you and somewhat disagree with you.

I never have owned an iPad, but I stayed with friends for a week about a year ago and played with their first-gen iPad during some of my free time every evening during my stay (generously they did not complain). So I compare my uninitiated experiences with the two devices and have several thoughts.

1. The TouchPad is not that far behind the first generation iPad.

The TouchPad was being prototyped back in 2010 soon after the original iPad's launch and Mark Hurd's push to purchase Palm. It might have been released in holiday 2010. But since Day 1, Leo Apotheker was looking to marginalize Palm and he dragged out its release to August, while failing to devote the effort necessary to properly port webOS to a large screen device.

Basically the TouchPad is a blown up version of the Pre's OS. In a way this isn't a bad thing, as the Pre's OS has some nice features and is reasonably smooth/easy to navigate. But on a big-screen device its flaws start to show.

2. No advertising app support KILLS the appeal of the device.

I hardly use my TouchPad anymore... haven't touch it in months. Why? Because there are very few free apps for it (and even the paid selection is somewhat poor). I went through literally EVERY free app in their catalog and downloaded any that sounded good. There were only about 5-10 decent sounding free games in my recollection.

Upon inspection it was clear why this was -- there were no ads. Palm/HP never bothered to incorporate advertising into their SDK, hence alienating many developers. (Or if they had it, it must have been fatally undocumented/problematic as even the freeware Angry Birds which has advertising on nearly EVERY OTHER platform had no ads.)

3. The interface feels sluggish compared to HoneyComb and the iPad 2.

The TouchPad would have been a decent interface competitor to the first gen iPad, though not quite as good. Stacking up against the more refined Android Honeycomb tables and the iPad 2, I can see the frustration you describe.

The problem was that HP invested no money or effort into a proper port. It basically put out a tablet with 2011 hardware and 2010 software/interface.

Obviously the webOS team had something to do with this, but I find it hard to believe that the majority of the culpability doesn't lie with Leo Apotheker/the HP board.

4. Don't judge webOS by the TouchPad.

Again, remember webOS is remembered most fondly for the Pre phones. Even Anand who traditionally gravitates towards iPhones spoke glowingly about the Pre.

Money problems unfortunately turned this slow start into a bitter end, first with the sale, and then with the webOS termination. But the Pre was an awesome device when it first came out, at least from what I've read and from the brief time I've played with it in store.

The problem is that the bankruptcy/financial woes foobared Palm from taking the next step and then they got picked up by HP who under Hurd might have done a good job in restoring the brand name, but under the disgraced German reject they dredged up was totally abused, sealing its fate.

RE: sigh...
By zlandar on 1/27/2012 4:30:14 PM , Rating: 2
I knew the app market was going to be dead out of the gate.

I just expected a much better web browsing experience.

Trying to view streaming video through the different sites (ESPN, Hulu, etc) is very hit-and-miss.

RE: sigh...
By EnzoFX on 1/27/2012 5:06:21 PM , Rating: 2
My Experience with the Touchpad is that it's just fine for simple web browsing. It's also great that is supports flash sites (never thought I'd say that).

Anyways, put ICS via CM9 and this thing screams. Even with the occasional bug (Great for a first alpha build), it is amazing. Not going back to WebOS, sadly. The vast market is icing on my cake for me (Usually vice versa for others =P).

RE: sigh...
By Pirks on 1/28/12, Rating: 0
RE: sigh...
By Reclaimer77 on 1/29/2012 9:16:02 PM , Rating: 1
Pirks the Playbook is a nice piece of hardware. I have one that runs Android and I love it. It's called a Kindle Fire. Maybe you've heard of it?

And honestly, who buys a tablet JUST because of how good the browser is? That's software. I don't know about Apple, but there's handfuls of browsers available for Android. I seriously doubt RIM made a browser that's so revolutionary nobody can possibly match it.

Just seems like all you're saying is, "Playbook is the best because I bought one".

RE: sigh...
By retrospooty on 1/29/2012 9:30:16 PM , Rating: 2
"who buys a tablet JUST because of how good the browser is?" .... "Just seems like all you're saying is, "Playbook is the best because I bought one". "

Thats pretty much Pirks. One review had one good thing to say about it, so that's what he'll cling to in order to support his choice... Now ignore the 100's of overwhelmingly negative reviews and call anyone that tries to explain sane thinking to him a "troll" or a "liar", or simply on Google/APple's payroll.

RE: sigh...
By DeluxeTea on 1/29/2012 11:00:59 PM , Rating: 2
I don't even see anything about RIM mentioned till Pirks brought it up in response to a post of yours above.

Guess he's trolling for the sake of trolling.

RE: sigh...
By retrospooty on 1/30/2012 7:13:49 AM , Rating: 2

RE: sigh...
By Pirks on 1/30/2012 2:39:40 PM , Rating: 2
I was just surprised people think WebOS tablet means anything. Obviously they haven't used Playbook. This is the power of the hype - everybody was so hyped up by WebOS from a few years ago that they didn't realize it has lost to RIM on tablets from the start. But with RIM being trolled right now of course most people, being dumb, ignored much better product.

With the release of Playbook OS 2.0 much ground for the anti-Playbook trolls will be lost, THEN things could get really interesting. We'll see :)

RE: sigh...
By retrospooty on 1/30/2012 4:10:49 PM , Rating: 2
"I was just surprised people think WebOS tablet means anything"

It doesnt. It was a total fail product. The reason it gets some mention is because WebOS had alot of potential. Palm totally blew it on a rushed , unpolished release, and pairing it with crappy hardware.

"everybody was so hyped up by WebOS from a few years ago that they didn't realize it has lost to RIM on tablets from the start"

I wouldnt say it lost. Both were released at $500, both had a fire sale to dump unsold inventory. The difference, Palm was already out of business, having been bought by HP, and HP had just announced they were dumping the whole WebOS business.

"With the release of Playbook OS 2.0 much ground for the anti-Playbook trolls will be lost"

Yes, all the anti-playbook trolls in your head will be lost (because that is the only place they seem to exist).

"THEN things could get really interesting"

RIM has to convince people to BUY it first... Good luck with that.

RE: sigh...
By Pirks on 1/30/2012 8:30:08 PM , Rating: 2
I wouldnt say it lost. Both were released at $500, both had a fire sale to dump unsold inventory. The difference, Palm was already out of business
You never looked at difference between the products, hence you are blind. I don't care who went out of what, is Palm dead or not, doesn't matter to me. What matters though is that Playbook was killing HP tablet NOT BECAUSE PALM WENT OUT OF BUSINESS or whatever you think up here. It was just much better product overall, I compared web browsing on both and on HP it's often horrendosuly slow while Playbook's UI is as slick as Apple's and even better in some places (multitasking related). Hence RIM killed HP, 'cause if anyone had a quarter of brain - he or she wouold always pick Playbook or iPad over HP. You can say Apple and RIM killed HP tablet together, whatever. Say what you want but I compared both tablets and I know what I'm talking about. Unlike most clueless trolls and clowns like cheesy or sojar.
RIM has to convince people to BUY it first
Doh, for people like you who defince success as "sale LOTS even if it's an inferior product" this is important, but RIM is more bothered with killing competitors in quality department, which they successfully did in first iteration. They even killed Apple in multitasking and web browsing, two very important areas on any tablet.

What I'm saying is that now with the release of Playbook OS 2.0 they removed a few minor drawbacks the anti-RIM trolls were clinging to. Like native email client, and a few popular games like Plants vs Zombies etc. Now WITHOUT these drawbacks I wonder what the reviews will look like, will anti-RIM trolls AKA "reviewers" find some other drawback (THIS BUTTON IS WRONG SHAPE, SO THIS TABLET IS CRAP DON'T BUY IT!!!) or will RIM kick the last bit of crap out of them.

Hence my saying about things getting interesting now.

In order to sell more Playbooks RIM has to silence the trolls, this requires polishing the product to such a degree they can't troll and whine about wrong shaped buttons and sh1t like that anymore. Looks like RIM finally understood this, I'm intrigued what happens next, who wins, trolls again or RIM.

RE: sigh...
By retrospooty on 1/30/2012 9:05:12 PM , Rating: 2
There are many battles going on in your head that arent going on in reality. That's about all I can say.

RE: sigh...
By Reclaimer77 on 1/30/2012 4:15:57 PM , Rating: 2
Playbook is a practically unknown product. There's no way there are "anti-Playbook" trolls lol. Come on.

Obviously they haven't used Playbook.

Because, obviously, nobody is buying the damn thing! Hello?

RE: sigh...
By Pirks on 1/30/2012 7:24:40 PM , Rating: 2
Reclaimer you don't know sh1t about Playbook reviews, majority of them took a quick look at it, and said "this sucks 'cause doesn't have angry birds and native email client". The idiots who wrote those reviews had no idea about other apps, about free office included with the OS, about webmail/gmail that kicks the crap out of older native email paradigm (oldfarts who wrote Playbook reviews couldn't understand how webmail could be better than native email clinet, 'cause they were oldfarts), about hardware quality, size, weight (both are advantageous over iPad but almost no one has noticed), look/design (definitely better than iPad too) and the modern microkernel OS inisde, iPad's older monolithic OS doesn't apply here. They paid no attention to slick multitasking unrivaled by any other ARM tablet including iPad, they paid no attention to fluid WebOS-like UI, to the best desktop-like web browser among ARM tablets. You're saying to me anti-RIM trolls do not exist after I read all this nonsense in multiple reviews retro was sending my way? You are totally clueless Reclaimer, go make your homework. Oh wait you can't, since you never used Playbook like I did. Too bad you have nothing to say on this then :)))

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