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Derek Kessler's blog

HP is shutting down webOS cloud services — including backups, device set-up, and the App Catalog — on 15 January 2015 20

by Derek Kessler Wed, 15 Oct 2014 11:21 pm EDT

HP is shutting down webOS cloud services — including backups, device set-up, and

Well, it was bound to happen eventually, and now we know exactly the day when HP will flip the switch on the webOS cloud services servers: 15 January 2015. Just barely six years after the Palm Pre was introduced at CES 2009, HP plans to shut off their last remaining expenses related to their disastrously-managed webOS experiment. The date also falls just short of two years after HP sold off their webOS assets to LG. It's a sad, but not unexpected day. And when the 15th of January does come, all webOS cloud services will go offline.

What all does that entail? Here's what you won't be able to do on a webOS device come January 15th:

  • Backups
  • Restore
  • New device set-up
  • Password recovery
  • App Catalog app downloads
  • App Catalog app updates
  • App Catalog app restores
  • webOS system updates (you know, if you've for whatever reason not updated in the past three years...)

It's unsurprising to have this come to pass, and we're at least thankful that HP is being forthright and transparent about it. As they say in the FAQ:

Shutting down webOS cloud services is part of an orderly end of life program.  HP announced the end of webOS devices (phones and tablets) over 3 years ago but the services were kept running to allow customers to continue to have a richer user experience.  The user count has dwindled to the point where it is no longer viable to keep the services running.

It's a sad day, and it'll be a sad day yet when the 15th of January comes and those servers go dark.

But in the meantime, the webOS Nation App Gallery is still up and running. Yeah, we know, we're still here. Any developers interested in moving their apps over to the App Gallery are welcome to do so and can request access to submit apps here (select "Submit Homebrew App" as the category). We know it's not the same as the App Catalog and we don't have a system in place for payments, but what have you got to lose at this point?

For those of you that are wondering how you'll manage in a post-App Catalog world, check out our guide for installing Preware on your webOS device.

Source: HP webOS Developer Center

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Jon Rubinstein: Validated, but Palm sale to HP was "a waste" 40

by Derek Kessler Tue, 11 Jun 2013 9:14 pm EDT

Jon Rubinstein: Validated, but Palm sale to HP was

Given the chance to do things over again, former Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein would not have sold the company to HP. When asked by FierceWireless about whether he would have done anything differently, Rubinstein said that he wouldn't "have sold the company to HP. That's for sure. Talk about a waste."
Quite. We're still rather bitter about the abrupt cancellation of webOS, so it's no surprise that the man who dedicated years of his career and his reputation to webOS would also be unhappy with how things turned out. But as we've seen time and time again, Palm was often a victim of circumstance and political carrier games.

The first step down the road to perdition for Palm was their launch partner: third place US carrier Sprint. Said Rubinstein: "We almost had deals with Verizon and with Vodafone, and in the last minute both of those guys decided not to go through with the deal, so we had a deal with Sprint," saying that it was "the best deal we could get at the time."

But all of that is in the past. What's Rubinstein up to these days? As we've previously reported, he's joined the boards of both Amazon and Qualcomm, which Rubinstein says are "uniquely positioned for the future of where things are going." He also spends some of his time helping out some 'small companies'. And, of course, taking time off and relaxing at his Mexican villa from where Ed Colligan lured him away years ago.
And as we've all noticed, a lot of what we love about and was pioneered by webOS has found its way into its former competitors, including yesterday's reveal of iOS 7. Rubinstein listed a number of features, including notifications on Mac OS X, multitasking cards (on, well… everything), Synergy contacts and messaging melding, over-the-air updates, and so much more.

Alas, if wishes were horses we at webOS Nation have a cavalry that would make General Washington proud. At the very least we can feel validated that our mobile operating system of choice was in fact years ahead of the curve, perhaps too far ahead.

Source: FierceWireless; Via: Phone Arena

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HP to issue root certificate fix, ensure continued access to webOS cloud services 84

by Derek Kessler Thu, 06 Jun 2013 1:09 pm EDT

HP to issue root certificate fix, ensure continued access to webOS cloud service

If you've been watching the webOS Nation Forums or the webOS community on Twitter, you may have seen the troubling reports that a vital "root certificate" on webOS devices is due to expire on July 23, 2013. This certificate is responsible for ensuring secure access to HP's webOS cloud services, including backup and the App Catalog, and once it expires, there's no accessing those services. It's a problem, a ticking time bomb, if you will.

We've been wondering if or when HP was going to fix the issue, and indeed had heard rumblings that a fix was in the works and due - wait for it - in the coming weeks. Today we got word from HP that the fix is indeed coming. In fact, it's due today, and it's coming in the form of an update to the the webOS App Catalog.

Updating one app to update a part of webOS isn't something new to HP. Back in 2011 they issued an update to the Maps app on webOS smartphones, that in addition to switching the mapping service from Google Maps to Bing Maps also installed Enyo framework support on the device. Granted, this isn't as much of a stealth update - the sole purpose of this update to the App Catalog is to install a new, later-expiring root certificate.

The App Catalog update is for webOS 2.1 and higher devices only. For those running older versions of webOS, you'll have to go into the App Catalog and manually download the HP App Catalog Update app.
Seeing as the update is to replace the certificate that expires on July 23, you'll need to do this before July 23. If you don't, it's still possible, but you're going to have to trick the system by setting your device clock back to before July 23, 2013 and then downloading the update.

Once you've updated with the new certificate things should continue to work for quite some time. In fact, we'd expect a shutdown from HP's webOS servers before the new certificates expire. So you should be prepared for that too.

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RSVP now for the Talk Mobile 2013 party in NYC on June 6! 5

by Derek Kessler Wed, 29 May 2013 9:49 am EDT

RSVP now for the Talk Mobile 2013 party in NYC on June 6!

RSVP right now to reserve the hottest ticket in tech!

** TICKET UPDATE **

We have maxed out our RSVP limit for today. Please come back to the site tomorrow at 12 Noon ET and we will be releasing a second wave of tickets. They're going fast, so if you missed out today be there tomorrow at 12 Noon ET. Can't wait to see you in NYC!

Mobile Nations, iMore, and the entire network have just announced Talk Mobile 2013 and while that's exciting, this might just be even more exciting -- we're throwing a giant launch party in New York City on Thursday June 6 and we want you to be there!

This is it, Mobile Nations, it's meet up time! I'll be there along with Georgia, as well as Kevin, Phil, Daniel, Marcus and a bunch of other Mobile Nations luminaries, and our special guests Cali Lewis and John P of GeekBeat.TV, and we want to see you there!

DJ MIA MORETTI will be supplying the music, and we'll be supplying an open bar (meaning this one's 21-and-up), snacks, and all the fun you can handle! Tickets are free, of course, but there is one catch...

They're going to go fast. Super fast. So fast that if you want to come, you really need to RSVP now as in NOW! Seriously, you don't want to miss this!

Not in the NYC area but still want to attend?

If you're not in NYC, we have a contest happening right now where you and a guest can win a trip for two to NYC to attend the event. All you have to do is jump over to talkmobile2013.com and enter your email address to sign up for updates. That's it. We need to get the winner booked this weekend, so the deadline for the contest is this Friday night at Midnight PT.

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Presenting Talk Mobile 2013! 28

by Derek Kessler Wed, 29 May 2013 9:30 am EDT

Come June 3, we're changing the smartphone conversation

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. Mobile Nations is proud to present Talk Mobile 2013! Yes, the almighty #tm13 finally gets a name. And a few faces. And, more important, a voice. Several voices, in fact. Actually, millions of voices. Our voices. Your voices. We're going to do this together.

Talk Mobile has been a long time coming, and for good reason. Just watch the trailer above, this post'll still be here when you're done.

Born out of the old Smartphone Round Robin, in which we'd borrow each other's smartphones and write about our experiences, Talk Mobile expands on the principle that there's so much more beyond any one phone or tablet -- or beyond any one platform, for that matter. And so for the next several months, we're going to change the conversation a bit. You'll be hearing from the fine folks at our sister sites Android Central, CrackBerry, iMore and WPCentral. You'll be hearing from our peers, our colleagues, and other industry experts. 

And, yes. We'll be hearing from you. Come next week -- June 3, actually -- when we roll out the first of the weekly discussions, you'll be as much a part of the conversation as we are. We've built a new commenting system for Talk Mobile that will span all of our sites and promote and recognize the best comments, so your voice will be heard across the entire Mobile Nations network.

So stay tuned. Next week, it begins. Point your browser to any of our four sister sites for posts each day for great conversation on the things in mobile that really matter. Hint: it's not specs.

And we're kicking things off with a launch party in New York City, open to the public, on June 6. Be sure to swing by TalkMobile2013.com to sign up, as we're giving away one trip to the Big Apple to hang with us for the night. (If you've already signed up, you're good to go.) And be sure to follow @TalkMobile on Twitter. And we've got a fancy press release if that's your thing.

Let's get the conversation started!

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The Great webOS Nation Giveaway: Who won a Verizon Pre3? 17

by Derek Kessler Sun, 12 May 2013 7:53 pm EDT

The Great webOS Nation Giveaway: Who won a Verizon Pre3?

Maybe it took us a while to get this one judged. But we got it done! There were a lot of really really great entries for our 60 seconds for a Verizon HP Pre3 contest, which made judging who deserved to win one of these rare brand-new webOS smartphones more difficult than we'd anticipated. After sleeping on it for a while, it's time to announce the winners! You can check out the winning video entries after the break…

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Phoenix ACL for TouchPad passes $35,000 Kickstarter goal with 10 days to spare 34

by Derek Kessler Sun, 12 May 2013 4:23 pm EDT

Phoenix ACL for TouchPad passes $35,000 Kickstarter goal with 10 days to spare

If you've been waiting to get Android apps running on your webOS-powered HP TouchPad (without having to actually install Android, that is), then you might just be one step closer to your desired future. Two weeks ago, webOS upstarts Phoenix International Communications partnered with OpenMobile to launch a Kickstarter campaign to finance the completion and release of the Android Compatibility Layer for TouchPad. The ACL's purpose is straightforward: to enable the running of Android apps on the TouchPad. The Kickstarter goal was $35,000 - not ambitious by Kickstarter standards.

Two weeks later, that $35,000 funding goal has been met and surpassed, with more than 575 contributors offering an average of $62.39 towards the project. 74 have pledged what amounts to a donation - less than $30 (though some pledge levels do promise swag like a Phoenix-branded LED keychain flashlight), while the rest pledged at least the $30 needed to secure a copy of the ACL on release. Sixteen others have pledged a backing of at least $90, securing access to the ACL one week earlier than lower pledges, 5 offered the $150 required for two weeks of early access, four are putting up $250 for the privilege of being a beta tester (paying to help sort bugs, really?).

Beyond that, a single donation of $500 secured a copy of ACL on a CD with a pack of swag, $600 for the swag pack and a new TouchPad with ACL, and one very dedicated soul pledged a whopping $7500 for a flight to New York, dinner with the Phoenix team, and a rare white 64GB TouchPad along with the requisite ACL and swag pack.

Now that the funding goal has been met, the pressure is really on for the Phoenix team. They've committed to an estimated delivery date of July 2013 for the ACL, and though the funding release for the Kickstarter campaign is still ten days away, we hope they're already hard at work on getting the ACL ready for release. Of course, Kickstarter in no way guarantees the success if any project financed on their platform, so it's going to be up to the webOS Nation community to hold Phoenix to their commitments. After all - it's your money.

Having met that funding goal, Phoenix has laid out their plans for the future of the ACL. Funding in excess of the $35,000 goal is intended to go to developing the ACL's next versions, including an update to replace the current Android 2.3 back-end with something based on Android 4.x instead and plans to release the ACL for the HP Pre3. We also hope they're planning on an Open webOS-compatible version of the ACL - as much as we love our old webOS hardware, the future lies with new hardware powered by the open source version of webOS, not in squeezing more life out of our beloved but aged webOS tablets and smartphones.

Source: Kickstarter

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Jon Rubinstein returns: Former Palm CEO joins Qualcomm's board 21

by Derek Kessler Mon, 06 May 2013 9:35 pm EDT

Jon Rubinstein returns: Former Palm CEO joins Qualcomm's board

When Jon Rubinstein came out of retirement from Apple to join Palm way back in 2007, little did he know the odyssey upon which he and Palm were about to embark. From launching the Palm Pre less than two years later, becoming Palm CEO, guiding Palm into HP's money-filled arms, launching the HP TouchPad tablet, and then watching as all the work he'd overseen got flushed down the toilet, Rubinstein's tenure at the lead of webOS was one of ups and downs, successes and utter chaos. So it was little surprise when, after watching webOS get a thin leash on life as an open source project, Rubinstein left HP in early 2012 for his second retirement.

Rubinstein returned to his Mexican beach villa and resumed the sipping of margaritas while browsing the web on his tiny HP Veer. While he left the door open to returning someday to tech, if anybody needed some time off after the webOS debacle, it was Jon Rubinstein. His schedule of siestas and cervezas is about to be interrupted, though we can't imagine it'll be on an all to frequent basis: Rubinstein was today elected to the board of directors of chip manufacturer Qualcomm.

While Rubinstein joined Palm's board as a very active and hands-on Executive Chairman with the goal of dragging Palm into the future of mobile computing, he's coming to San Diego-based Qualcomm while it's at the top of its game and firing on all cylinders. Rubinstein's addition to the board brings a new heft and decades of computing and mobile experience to the table. Besides webOS, Rubinstein is credited as being the man who made Apple's iPod possible from an engineering standpoint, and was a key player at Steve Jobs's NeXT.

It's not quite Silicon Valley, but it's definitely silicon. Welcome back, Ruby.

Source: Qualcomm; Via: Android Central

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App Giveaway: Othello StockWatch 94

by Derek Kessler Tue, 30 Apr 2013 9:00 pm EDT

App Giveaway: Othello StockWatch

If you're an investor in this day and age, keeping up on your stock portfolio can seem like a daunting task. There's not just the day-to-day progress of your positions, but there are technical indicators and charts and news out the wazoo that you've got to track. Your options for that are plenty to, but we've got one you might want to check out: Othello StockWatch for the HP TouchPad. With autocompleting search, customizable charts, and sortable technical indicators, this app could be your best friend as an investor. Othello StockWatch is normally $1.99 in the App Catalog, but we're pleased to say that we have 50 copies to give away to 50 of you.

Contest: We have 50 copies of Othello StockWatch to give away. Just leave a comment on this post to enter. Contest ends next Sunday at midnight US Eastern Time, after which time we will select 50 random entrants to win. Please only leave one comment, multiple entries won’t count. Promo codes are only valid in countries serviced by the App Catalog, and users must be running webOS 3.0.4 or higher with the latest version of the App Catalog.

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Last call! Verizon Pre3 60-second video entries close tomorrow

by Derek Kessler Mon, 29 Apr 2013 6:01 pm EDT

Last call! Verizon Pre3 60-second video entries close tomorrow

Consider this your final reminder.

If you want to win one of five brand-new Verizon HP Pre3 smartphones and are totally cool with putting together a video that's no longer than sixty seconds, then you should totally head to the contest post linked below for the complete entry requirements and to submit your entry (don't post it here). The contest closes tomorrow, so you'll want to get cracking on convincing us that you deserve one of the rarer birds of webOS.

Contest: The Great webOS Nation Giveaway: 60 seconds for a Verizon Pre3

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Phoenix teams up with OpenMobile to Kickstart the ACL for TouchPad 85

by Derek Kessler Sun, 28 Apr 2013 1:30 pm EDT

Phoenix teams up with OpenMobile to Kickstarter ACL for TouchPad

Way back in 2012 we were introduced to OpenMobile, a company working to build what they called an "Application Compatibility Layer" for running Android apps on Open webOS. They've demonstrated it running in the webOS emulator, but what about on a real live functioning device? That's been elusive. And at CES 2013 we stopped by OpenMobile's booth, only to find no sign of the webOS ACL. Despite the dreams and wishes of many, we wrote off the ACL as not coming back. With webOS now open source and the property of LG and a release on mobile hardware that could run those Android apps looking less likely, why bother with the investment to finish the work?

But in 2013 we're looking a strange confluence of sites and services and people. The webOS movement hasn't died, and thanks groups like Phoenix International Communications there's even the possibility it could see a resurgence. And while they're working on building Open webOS for Android, they're not stopping there. Today Phoenix announced that they've paired up with OpenMobile to resurrect the ACL for the TouchPad.

In a four-minute video on Kickstarter (also after the break) they lay out the case for the ACL on TouchPad. In short: because they want to and they think you want to as well. Thus the Kickstarter campaign. In addition, the video shows off the ACL in action on a TouchPad. Essentially it allows the installation of Android apps as discrete apps on on webOS, including individual apps. There's certainly a bit of OS shock in that Android apps running under the ACL are in essence running a window of Android, complete with back/home/menu buttons at the bottom of the screen and the Android keyboard. The set-up actually is quite similar to what OpenMobile is doing for the Meego-based Sailfish OS, down to the Android 2.3 core to the ACL.

Phoenix has turned to Kickstarter to crowdsource the financing needed to finish the ACL for webOS. They're seeking $35,000 by 23 May 2013, with a touch over $1500 having already been pledged at publish time. As this is on Kickstarter, Phoenix won't get any of the money unless the $35,000 goal is reached by the deadline - if they can't reach it, they get none of the pledged funding. And, as this is Kickstarter, there are several levels of backer rewards, from a copy of the ACL for a $30 pledge to beta testing access for $250 to a trip to New York City for dinner with the leadership of Phoenix for a $5000 commitment (along with the ACL on a CD, a certificate of appreciation, two Phoenix t-shirts, and an LED flashlight keychain).

If Phoenix is able to reach that funding goal, they're anticipating having the OpenMobile ACL complete and available by July. Seeing how the ACL is running its current state on the TouchPad, that goal might not be too ambitious.

Source: Kickstarter; Thanks to @DeadTechnology for the tip!

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Isis Web doesn't bring new WebKit to the TouchPad, but it's still better 17

by Derek Kessler Thu, 25 Apr 2013 12:46 pm EDT

Isis Web doesn't bring new WebKit to the TouchPad, but it's still better

Way back in February of 2012 - that's over a year ago - HP released to open source the new Isis browser built on the latest WebKit standards. They called it Isis. This Isis browser in built in to Open webOS, and anybody familiar with webOS on the TouchPad would find the user interface instantly familiar. Because it's the same.

While there's an ongoing effort to bring parts of Open webOS, like the new WebKit engine, to older webOS devices like the TouchPad, it's still possible to get things like the updated browser interface. Yes, we just said it's the same, but it's also different. That's why webOS homebrewer Juno Avalon has been working on porting the Isis browser interface to the TouchPad. He's gotten far enough that he felt comfortable packaging it up as an app and distributing it via the WebOS Nation Homebrew Gallery - and so Isis Web for HP TouchPad was born.

While Isis Web shares a common user interface with the existing TouchPad browser and doesn't include the new WebKit, it does at least bring some new goodies to the game without compromising anything that we've known and loved about the old browser. When you tap-and-hold on a link or hit the share button in the address bar, there's a new share dialog that allows you to select from Email, Messaging, Sparrow (Twitter), and Facebook (the TouchPad app).

Isis Web also supports searching the text on a page, an option triggered from the app menu. You can download and save links with a tap-and-hold and when the browser is minimized into card view it stops scrolling.

In the notes for the app release, Avalon notes that this release is only for the TouchPad. While it technically is a complete Enyo app and loads correctly on the Pre 2 and Pre3, it is neither optimized nor functional once it is loaded. Avalon says he's working on a separate release for webOS smartphones.

So go ahead and fire up Preware on your TouchPad or hook and and run webOS Quick Install so you can give Isis Web a try. As an added bonus, Isis Web doesn't replace the default web browser, but it still shares the history and bookmarks database. So there's not a big commitment leap to be made if you want to give Isis Web a try - switch back and forth between it and Web at your leisure.

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This is the WindsorNot - the webOS slate smartphone that never was 97

by Derek Kessler Wed, 24 Apr 2013 3:59 pm EDT

This is the WindsorNot - the webOS slate smartphone that never was

In the early months of 2011, after the HP Pre3, Veer, and TouchPad had been announced at HP's Think Beyond event in February, there were many debates raging inside the halls of the webOS campus in Sunnyvale. Decisions had to be made, projects were going to have to be cut or pushed onto the back burner. Those three devices weren't the only new webOS hardware coming from HP, it was just the first new webOS hardware that was to come from HP.

A smaller webOS tablet, the 7-inch TouchPad Go, was planned for release a few months after the 9.7-inch TouchPad. A Bluetooth audio-equipped Touchstone wireless charger was being tested. The next generation of TouchPads was under development, including models that were thinner, had better screens, and more powerful internals. There was even a model equipped with a full-size slide-out keyboard in the labs, though the likelihood of it ever seeing the light of day was questionable. But those were further away, projects planned for a time when webOS was flourishing in the marketplace.

It's still early 2011, and as enthusiastic as HP's leadership was formerly in the form of CEO Mark Hurd and still is in the form of Personal System Group (and former Palm CEO) Todd Bradley, the crew in Sunnyvale wasn't getting the financial and personnel support needed from HP HQ in Palo Alto to push everything out the door in the quality it needed to be in on the timeframe they wanted to hit. Hurd's replacement, former SAP chief executive Leo Apotheker and HP CFO Cathie Lesjak, aren't as enthusiastic about investing the billions of dollars needed to get webOS running at full steam.

With limited funding available to get the work done, tough decisions have to be made in the webOS Global Business Unit. Sitting after the all-but-done TouchPad Go but before the fancier next-generation TouchPads is a curious webOS smartphone. It shares much of its internals with the HP Pre3 and bears the hallmarks of the clean and simple webOS hardware design language, but it's an entirely different beast.

This is the WindsorNot, the webOS slate smartphone that never was.

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The Great webOS Nation Giveaway: Winners of the Pixi + Pre 2 + Veer giveaway! 17

by Derek Kessler Wed, 24 Apr 2013 10:57 am EDT

The Great webOS Nation Giveaway: Winners of the Pixi + Pre 2 + Veer giveaway!

The week is up, so it's time to announce the winners of the second of the giveaways that compose the Great webOS Nation Giveaway. This contest was for a total of two AT&T HP Veers, two Verizon Palm Pre 2s, and one Sprint Palm Pixi - and nearly nine hundred of you entered! Without further ado, the winners are…

AT&T HP Veer:

Verizon HP Pre 2:

Sprint Palm Pixi:

Additonally, pippy35 will be receiving a Touchstone wireless charger and a Palm-brand car charger to keep that brand new Veer all charged up. Winners, pay attention to your email - we'll be contacting you about shipping your prizes! Congratulations to you all.

The little phones have all been given away, but there's another contest that's going on right now. It's for the bigger brother of that Pre 2 - five rare new-in-box Verizon HP Pre3. Unlike this just-concluded contest, we're asking you to put together a 60-second video to explain why you deserve to win one of these rare webOS smartphones.

The Great webOS Nation Giveaway continues!

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The Great webOS Nation Giveaway: 60 seconds for a Verizon Pre3 98

by Derek Kessler Tue, 23 Apr 2013 8:51 pm EDT

The Great webOS Nation Giveaway: 60 seconds for a Verizon Pre3

On the list of rare birds in the webOS universe, it doesn't get much rarer than the Verizon HP Pre3 before you venture into the realm of never-mass-produced prototypes. But it would just so happen that we have five of them that we intend to give away to you, oh loyal citizen of this great webOS Nation. You've haiku'd for the AT&T version, but given the comparative rarity of the Verizon Pre3, something more is called for.

So here's the deal: To enter for a chance to win one of five brand-new Verizon HP Pre3 smartphones, we want you to put together a video explaining why you deserve to win one. There's just one catch: this video cannot be longer than 60 seconds. You've got one minute to make your case - no more - and though we appreciate your enthusiasm, we must insist that you limit yourself to one video per entrant. And one minute, that's really a big sticking point here.

Once you've made your video, upload it to YouTube and post a link to it in the comments of this post. Your entries are due in by the end of the day on 30 April 2013, after which time we're sure it will take us a little while to sort through them all and pick the most deserving of entrants.

As with the other giveaways in The Great webOS Nation Giveaway, there are also Touchstone and car charger bonuses to be had. Three for this one, in fact.

To recap: 60 seconds to make your case for one of five Verizon Pre3s. Put it on YouTube and link to it in the comments. Do this by next Tuesday. Time to bust out that old JVC GY-X2B and get recording!

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