Alright, HP, let's work this out... [editorial] | webOS Nation

Alright, HP, let's work this out... [editorial] 59

by Derek Kessler Fri, 09 Dec 2011 5:29 pm EST

What follows is what transpired inside my head today. It may not be as cathartic as some of my earlier rants, and the narrative styling might be a bit on the, shall we way, strange side. It is what it is.

The sky outside the office window was a muted gray, in so much as gray can be muted. The sun hadn’t been visible all day, and if not for the clock on his Touchstone-docked TouchPad, Derek would have struggled to tell what time it was. He stood facing the window staring blankly at the sullen sky, his hands shoved into his pockets and his shoulders slouched. He’d heard the chatter around the office, and it wasn’t looking good.

A knock at the door behind his back broke Derek from his trance. He turned around, finding HP standing in the doorway. Her blue shield looked more dulled and beaten than ever before. The sky visible in the window beyond was a muted gray, in so much as gray can be muted. They made eye contact for what seemed like an eternity. Over the past few years their relationship had been the emotional equivalent of a roller coaster, replete with spells of burning desire and cold detachment from both sides, often in opposition. But recently it had been more subdued, almost morose in nature. They’d known months ago that this day would eventually come, that they’d have to make a decision and move forward with it. From the look in HP’s eyes, Derek could tell that decision had been made.

Derek walked past his desk, pointing an open hand at the pair of chairs on the back side of the desk, “Hey, have a seat.” He walked to a cabinet set into the wall, opened it up, and pulled out a bottle of scotch and two glasses. As HP quietly sat in the chair, he walked back around and sat in the other chair, opting for the closer more personal positioning instead of sitting coldly behind the desk, a mess of laptops, phones, and tablets between them.

The glasses klinked against the small glass table between the chairs. “So you’ve come to a decision?”

HP nodded, “I have.”

“Are you sure it’s the right one?”

“It’s the one I’ve made,” she said, staring at the glasses. “It’s not like we had many options left.”

Derek held onto the scotch as he sat, “Alright, let’s hear it.”

HP swallowed hard and looked back up at him, “Open source.”

He nodded slowly, tweaking his jaw to the side. “Alright, who did you line up to license it?”

She furrowed her brow, “It’s open source, they don’t have to license it.”

Derek absently waved a hand, “Yeah yeah, you know what I mean. Who’s going to use it?”

“I don’t know,” HP said sheepishly.

“I…” Derek struggled for words. He looked back up at the gray sky, slack-jawed, and then back to HP, “What do you mean you don’t know?”

“I mean nobody was really that interested.”

“Did you cut the asking price?”

HP nodded.

Derek set the scotch on the table, “Did you drop that silly printers idea?”

“It’s not silly!” HP slapped the arms of her chair and stood. She walked away, heading for the window, “I wish you could see it how I do.”

“I’ve tried,” Derek leaned back in his chair, “But it just doesn’t make sense to me. How important can it possibly be?”

She shook her head, “It’s important.”

“So you didn’t drop it?”

HP crossed her arms and looked out the window, “No.”

“Even though everybody balked at it?” he questioned.

“I’m not dropping printers,” HP snapped over her shoulder. “It’s not negotiable.”

Derek pulled the stopper out of the top of the bottle, “So there’s really nobody lined up to make hardware?”


“I know Samsung and HTC turned you down,” Derek said, pouring scotch into a glass, “But Intel seemed pretty promising.” Met with silence, he sighed and prodded, “Printers?”


Derek sat the bottle down, dropping the stopper next to it. He picked up the glass, about half-filled with scotch, “You’re really stuck on this printers thing, aren’t you?”

“Will you just drop it?” HP grumbled.

“I will when you do.” He took a long sip of the scotch and exhaled loudly. “Open sourcing can be good. It worked out pretty well for Google.”

HP turned away from the window, leaning against the sill, “I know, right?”

Derek pointed a finger in the air, “Except they have more licensees than God.” He raised his eyebrows to her, “Are you going to make hardware again?”


“What do you mean maybe?” Derek asked from inside the glass, taking another sip.

HP dropped her hands by her side and looked over at the collection of webOS devices on the desk, “We did layoff the hardware team.”

Derek nodded, “Yeah, that you did.”

“We could still do it,” HP said. “It’d take a while. We’d have to rehire the old team,” she bobbled her head back and forth, “Or hire new people. The prototypes are in the vault, but they aren’t anywhere near ready for release.”

“Would they be worth releasing?”

HP sighed, “I need a drink.” She pushed off the window and walked back to the chairs.

Derek obliged, tipping the bottle over the second glass, “So we’re looking at a very long time before this goes anywhere.” He sat the bottle back down and handed the scotch-filled glass to her after she lowered herself back into the chair.

“We are.”

“So I have a question about all this.” He recapped, “You’re open sourcing webOS with the intention of maybe eventually making new hardware, and in the meantime hoping that somebody puts it onto other devices?” HP nodded, draining the scotch into her mouth. Derek continued, “So with Android already available, widely-adopted, and a light-year or two ahead of webOS, what manufacturer in their right mind would pick webOS?”

HP sat quietly, contemplating her empty glass.

Derek sat his glass on the table and reached out, putting a hand on HP’s shoulder, “Look, you know I like you, right?” She nodded sullenly. “You need a plan. ‘We’re going to open source it’ is not a plan. ‘We might eventually make devices’ is not a plan. Look, I know you want to make Windows 8 tablets.”

HP shrugged, not looking up, “I don’t know... Windows 8 seems pretty slick, but Microsoft doesn’t seem to have their act together on tablets.”

“And you do?” Derek laughed. He gently patted her shoulder and leaned back into his chair, “Look, I don’t want you to become this decade’s Symbian Foundation.”

She looked up, the pain from the remark clear in her eyes, “Ouch.”

Derek grabbed his glass again, “I want you to be successful. You’re HP, for Packard’s sake! You’ve done great things, amazing things. You just need to focus. Going open source doesn’t really sound like much of a commitment to me.”

“I’m stretched a little thin right now,” HP said. “It’s cost a lot to clean up Leo’s mess…”

Derek interjected with a growl, “Leo.” He narrowed his eyes, looking at nothing in particular.

“…I’d love to commit to new hardware right away, but I just don’t have the money.”

Derek finished the scotch left in his glass, sat it on the table, and leaned forward to reach out and grab the TouchPad off the charger on his desk. He couldn’t help but sigh, watching the Exhibition Mode display fade away to reveal a stack of cards. He flipped through them, finding an open document editor. It took a few taps to create a new document, in which he typed the words ‘THE PLAN’ across the top row.

He leaned over, handing the tablet to HP, “Let’s get started.”


Make this a series & maybe name it "The Plan"!

"Dumb and Dumber" fits better..

LOL!! Very funny. Keep them coming.


Nice work all these years. What's next?


Wow. That's incredible. Very nice work, Derek!

Quite a few articles today. You might want to ration these out. Rumor has it there is a dry(er) spell coming and it will affect the entire webOS nation.

lmao thats cold bro

I was wrong before when i said things couldn't get worse around here.

So this is what the bottom looks like? Looks like Derek and Leo both managed to steer their ships into the ground.

You are a lovely individual.

Ignorance is bliss i hear..

Dude, not only have you stolen my name, but you're also an a-hole!

Great writing by the way Derek - you must have a novel simmering away somewhere?

From The REAL Checkmate.

chekmate, you're a reall ashhole!

Don't feed the trolls.

This is the stuff of business books. Marc Andreessen's involvement/experience could be valuable.

HP, a multi Billion dollar company, and ya gotta help them come up with a plan? Holly Hewlett & Packard, rolling in their graves, they say...Ya wanna plan, I'll give ya a plan. Make Hardware damn it, if ya ain't good at making Haaardwaare, what the **** are you good at? Drinking Scotch and makin bloatware on lapitops Autominously, for Leo's sake? Get off your arses and use that HP Invent, and Invent something original, not a knock off of knock offs.

My sentiments, exactly!

btw, sounds familiar.

That was both brilliantly hilarious and right on the money! Good job writing!!

I think of HP's situation in deciding what to do is similar to the light cycles sequence in Tron. HP had light walls to the left and right with no where to turn and another wall straight up ahead closing fast. No matter which way to turn, it was going to be game over. **CRASH!!!**

Derek, this was an excellent read. People like you that have the wit to come up with stuff like this is in small supply. Love the part about Leo.

Thanks for this, it made my day.

And mine. Derek, have you considered writing children's books? Such an imagination should have a profitable outlet.

If only someone could actually do this to Meg and the people at HP. HP's been running the entire company like a crazed teenager since Hurd left. Well, Leo was more like a small child, Meg is like a 20 something that can't decide on a college to go into. I wish we could get a straight answer from them.

Good stuff, good stuff! (and a bit too close to the truth for comfort I'm afraid)

That's when I enter the room screaming "long live WebOS" and Derek kicked me out; close the door and make sweet love to HP...

So in this scenerio, is WebOs supposed to be the love child of Derek and HP?

You know Derek wants WebOs to become successful and respected. HP wants WebOs to stay home where it's safe and comfortable.

This is almost as good as the haikus :)

what is this I don't even


A tip of the hat to you.

Good job Derek. That's some good writing.

I'm thirsty now...

It was a lovely piece, and it made me cry.

If only the last paragraph were possible. But it seems clear that there's a bit left that you didn't write:

"Plan? No Dieter, I'm not ready to plan anything. We tried plans and you know how that worked out. We're just going to hunker down and focus on making printers for now... some windows tablets perhaps... " She sets the shield on the floor and sighs.

"Dieter, you know, it could have been __ glorious __ ." She drained her glass and shook her head. "Thanks for the drink. You deserved to heart it straight up. " She picked up the battered shield, straightened her robe and lifted her head with what dignity she could find and opened the door. "Good night Dieter. It's been... " She shook her head and walked out, closing the door after her.

*hushed whisper* Derek, not Dieter!

"Don't stop him. He's on a roll."

Oh **** :-( Well, there goes all the value of the piece.

FORTUNATELY, there's an edit button !!! HA!

This is a noire piece! Derek is the hardbitten booze-ridden detective and HP is a fallen beauty that walks in his office. He's wary of falling under her spell again and she hates asking him for a favor but has no where else to turn.

Bottom line: HP wanted to keep webOS alive for relatively cheap cost and this was the way. I don't think printers was the stumbling block - it was that no one is going to sign up to license webOS if HP owned it and HP didn't want to give webOS completely since it put lots of work in it. But with opensource it's a risk but reasonable strategy and HP can use it if webOS as opensource is successful. Who will be interested in open webOS? Some cheap knockoff tablets and maybe even some phones but maybe the companies that haven't done well with Android- maybe Sony and LG and in the future Amazon. Bad timing with world economies- sony is still losing money, other companies are not willing to fork out a billion dollars for webOS.

I think too many people here forget about all of the licensing costs and the patent lawsuits going on in the Android sphere. If HP does this right, they may be able to offer companies like HTC an alternative with no licensing fees and a patent umbrella. People shouldn't underestimate the value in that proposition. Really, what it boils down to for the phone OEM's is 1) how much will it cost to produce a phone and sell a phone with webOS, and 2) will it sell enough to make a profit? If the value is there, and the phones are desirable to consumers, then they'll sell them. Otherwise, they won't.

HP does need to at least get to the point within a few months, that interested OEM's can make and test prototypes for release in say the summer time frame. Android slab phones with a Qualcomm processor and no hardware buttons would make great candidates for some minor tweaking and use as a webOS phone. I'm not saying this will happen, but I can't imagine someone like HTC, with the promise of being shielded from Apple, and free of MS royalties, isn't going to give this very serious consideration.

I think the real problem for many will be the dearth of developers for the webOS space going forward. We're going to be more marginalized, more niche market. I'm OK with that myself, but we'll never hit critical mass with a bunch of one-off chinese manufacturers pre-loading their dual-sim smartphones with webOS.

Briliant writing Derek, I like the metaphor :)

Thank you Derek, just, thank you. We all count ourselves very lucky that we have people like you to rally around right now. Please keep being you.

"And they have a plan..."

It didn't work out for them either...though "this has all happened before and it will happen again." ;-)

Very nice. You can just hear the music in the background and see the film noir lighting.

Is that music or the sound of a bell after a 10-count?

wait, so HP is a CYLON??! that explains EVERYTHING!

LONG LIVE webOS King of the Mobile OS! and man i feel like getting a tattoo of the old palm logo sitting in a stack of cards, this really makes me sad. Btw did anyone else get goosebumps reading this, (on more than on occasion). The end is just the beginning?

DK, Just so you know, I have always loved your writing and commentary. You are the bright spot in Palm's dying embers. Grant it, you may have crossed into nut job territory at some point along the way, but you have always been my kind of nut job. :) I love you, man. Thanks for being real. I wish there were more like you.

Lol, very amusing. Nicely done Derek. I hate to say that I left webOS after the Feb announcement and no mention of Sprint. But I always keep up on my WebOS news, this open sourcing is sad in one way, but good for me in another. I love WebOS, but I now love my EVO slab style. I even tried to go back to a franken Pre2, and its amazing how small it seems now lol. SO hopefully this will allow for WebOS on other form factors. Just hope someone makes some hardware. I havent read the article about WebOS on EVO 3D yet (next on the list of good reads) so theres another option for me. EVO running WebOS = Bliss

Writing that plan is going to take a ton more scotch. Sad to say ... but I am moving on. If open source is the plan ... then it is time to go to android with the benefits of previous open source development, currently a stable platform and ... more importantly ... stable customer base. If HP can raise WebOS from the ashes in time ... then I will have an open mind about returning. Sadly ... I am not that confident.

Great piece. Unfortunately, I don't see it having many chapters left...

ok, very nice and all, BUT WHAT KIND OF SCOTCH WAS IT?

Wow, loved this!!! Keep it going!! make it a series!!

now I know why HP messed up...

they all have a drink problem

As some people said, as long as HP moves quickly open sourcing webOS could pretty easily get it installed on big OEM's phones due to patent protection. The only question I have is what is in it for HP? As soon as that question is answered all of my worries about webOS surviving will go away.

If HP keeps control over the app catalog then they stand to make money from app purchases. I don't know how this will work after making webOS open source though, but I do think that it's best not to fragment the app catalog stores like Android has....too many market places so that you don't know which one you purchased a certain app at (pure speculation since I don't own any Android devices).
Anyway, I think that HP could stand to benefit from app sales. They could then return to making webOS hardware if webOS gains in popularity.

Brilliant, Derek. Brought a tear to my eye. I could feel the pain and resignation in both of your voices.

Funny tho, I really wanted to hate it at first, but the writing style and tongue in cheek humor kept reeling me back in.

Hopefully this is a short story. The next chapter should be...

And then HTC and Samsung burst into the room, slapped HP and said, "We're making webOS phones and they'll all be out tomorrow. And we have 3 million apps that Christmas elves have been working on since Thanksgiving."

The end. :)

Dieter! When have any of our plans ever actually worked? We plan, we release, all **** breaks loose!

"It was a lovely piece, and it made me cry."

That's how I describe my prom date.

"For Packard's sake!" Love it. You guys should make that a slogan, motto, or rallying cry of some sort.


thanks for the entertainment, very nice writing. loved it!