Dear HP: Remember your roots, please don't hamper webOS homebrew | webOS Nation

Dear HP: Remember your roots, please don't hamper webOS homebrew

by Derek Kessler Fri, 30 Apr 2010 9:31 am EDT

HP Garage

With HP poised to bring Palm into their corporate fold, we find ourselves tempering our enthusiasm for the rescue of Palm and webOS with the fear of what corporate culture may entail for the plucky Sunnyvale-based smartphone maker. Specifically, fear that the corporate culture will not just shun, but shut down, the brilliant and creative efforts of the webOS homebrew community that helped prop up Palm to this point.

So HP, while we have faith that you know what you’re doing, we still feel like we need to take a trip down memory lane to make it clear just how much we think homebrew should be important to you. And the story we’re going to tell is yours.


HP is your quintessential American company, built from hard work and ingenuity from the ground up. In the 1930s, two Stanford engineering graduates, Bill Hewlett and David Packard, were tinkering around in a Palo Alto garage when they decided to get into the electronics manufacturing business and gave birth to Silicon Valley. The company, Hewlett-Packard, started with just $538 to its name. Now, HP is the single largest technology company on the planet.

When HP came into this world, the technology behemoth of the day was IBM. When HP moved out of that garage and started bringing additional employees on board, Packard’s management style defined the company as much as the products. HP was known as a relaxed work environment with an open management hierarchy (to the point that there were no doors on managers’ offices).

Like any company, HP’s had its struggles and dark periods, and not everything they’ve done has gone right. Just take a look at their acquisition of VoodooPC to see where it can go wrong. But by and large, HP’s acquisitions are of companies in markets which they aren’t succeeding (or even participating), and much of the drive behind the purchase is to learn how that company works and to take it to the next level. That’s what HP’s said they intend to do with Palm, so here’s hoping that it all works out.

Remember that spirit of openness that embodied life at HP those decades ago. Leverage the power of information and accessibility, not just within the corporate structure, but with your customers and your partners. webOS stands out pretty well once you get to know it, so it's time to make sure the world knows it too.

In the meantime, go take look at that garage, and then take a minute to review the Rules of the Garage.

  • Believe you can change the world.
  • Work quickly, keep the tools unlocked, work whenever.
  • Know when to work alone and when to work together.
  • Share tools, ideas. Trust your colleagues.
  • No Politics. No bureaucracy. (These are ridiculous in a garage).
  • The customer defines a job well done.
  • Radical ideas are not bad ideas.
  • Invent different ways of working.
  • Make a contribution every day. If it doesn’t contribute, it doesn’t leave the garage.
  • Believe that together we can do anything.
  • Invent.


Ed. note: minutes after Derek submitted this article, windzilla in our forums expressed similar sentiments:

I ask that you please recognize that the openness of the platform, the developer relations team, the homebrew community, and the enthusiasts at large, are all an integrated and positive asset that no other mobile manufacturer, even google, or nokia's maemo, can lay claim too.

the fact that these different entities often work together to create solutions for problems, and bring possibilities into reality, make me feel comfortable in telling friends and family that the palm smartphone family is a good choice for them.

please don't throw that away, but embrace it, foster it, and learn from it.