From the editor's desk: Blogging about webOS makes me rip out my hair | webOS Nation

From the editor's desk: Blogging about webOS makes me rip out my hair 27

by Derek Kessler Fri, 14 Sep 2012 7:06 pm EDT

From the editor's desk: Blogging about webOS makes me rip out my hair

After three years, four months, one week, and two days of blogging about webOS, you'd think I would have gone bald by now. Surprisingly, in spite of everything that Palm and HP have thrown my way, I haven't yet noticed my hairline receding or patches along the sides where I've repeatedly grabbed onto my hair and screamed profanities at my computer at whatever boneheaded, boggling, or brash thing came out that week from Sunnyvale over the past one thousand two hundred twenty eight days. Perhaps I have good follicles.

Among the flabbergast-inducing events I've witnessed and blogged:

Sometimes I have to ask myself why I continue to write about webOS. I have two active TouchPads (one for testing wacky stuff like Android and alpha versions of new software) and a Pre3. I also have an iPhone 4S and a MacBook Pro. I'm not wedded to webOS or HP.

The reasons I do this are many. For one, I love to write, and I know webOS from many perspectives (user, technical, sales, etc) far better than most tech writers out there. I am in love and wedded to the webOS community, and managing webOS Nation my way of doing my part, especially now that we're pretty much the only game in town. It's satisfying being king of the hill, even if it's a small hill that nobody is fighting over anymore. I do also get paid for it, but I wanted to I could easily just dump webOS and move to blogging for iMore and Android Central (which I do a bit of on the side, just to keep busy).

But I suppose the biggest reason I keep doing this is because I believe webOS is great. It's down on its luck and somewhat out of date and yet still ahead of the curve, but it's still a great operating system. I do this in spite of the idiocy that has befallen webOS at the hands of Palm, Sprint, Verizon, and HP. webOS is the little engine that could, but it's never been put onto solid tracks that lead up to the summit. I'm not saying that webOS could have been the top dog in the mobile space had everything gone right, but circumstances, mistakes, and often times a lack of 'gives a damns' from third parties certainly didn't make things easier.

I do this because webOS did not fail. It drives me mad when I see reputable tech news sites discussing webOS as a 'failed' operating system or a 'failed' experiment for HP. webOS under HP did not fail. webOS under HP was not given enough of a chance to fail. If you take up painting, practice for a year, and then try to get your work in an exhibit but after seven weeks haven't been able to get somebody to hang your canvases, have you failed? No. You fail when you give up, and that's exactly what HP did with webOS. They gave up because it was going to cost a ton of money to get it right, something HP should have known from the start.

Which brings me to today. HP CEO Meg Whitman is out there, talking to the press, and asked about smartphones from HP, she says that's "ultimately" something HP is going to have to do. HP did smartphones. I'm looking at an HP Pre3 right now running webOS 2.2.4. It's a damn good phone, even for being eighteen months old from its announcement date.

HP has some of the parts they need to make a good smartphone. They expertise in hardware (that Envy x2 Windows 8 tablet looks mighty nice) and they have an operating system all their own that they've spent the better part of two years pumping money, time, and personnel into. Of course, HP did manage to lay off all of their hardware engineers with experience in making modern smartphones, so there is that against them.

I've never been one to play the ignorant cheerleader. Palm was not the best, nor was HP ever the best. There is no best, every OS brings something better to the table than its competitors, and every OS falls short in some way too. I've never been shy of calling out Palm or HP for their mistakes, nor offering my unsolicited advice on how I as a passionate outside think they should be running their business. I'm not the best either, I don't know everything that goes on behind the scenes, nor do I have a deep understanding of how things work from the 1's and 0's perspective.

If HP's to make a new smartphone, as Whitman claims they are, I'd honestly be surprised if it ran webOS. Nay, I'd be shocked. HP is done with webOS and has been for months. That's why they're open sourcing it, that's why they're spinning the webOS Global Business Unit off as a separate company. HP's not going to make a new webOS tablet or smartphone. They burned that bridge and many others a year ago.

But what future will little 'ole Gram have? It's impossible to say, because I even have to speculate about what exactly it is that Gram is going to do. Without knowing the what and the why of Gram, I can hardly comment on the thought of how well they'll do it. Look, I'm pulling out my hair again.

Recently the biggest issue I've had has been the holding pattern. For the past year I, this site, and the webOS community have been in a holding pattern. First while we waited for HP to figure out what they were going to do with webOS, and now while we wait for HP to finish open sourcing webOS and hoping, praying that we'll be able to install it on something useful. There's part of me that fears HP's just going through the motions of open sourcing, doing the minimal work to meet their commitment, and then spinning off Gram to flounder on their own. I sincerely hope that's not the case, but that little voice in the back of my head that was nagging at me before has been jumping up and down screaming and yelling since the Open webOS beta was released.

I don't want to go bald. I don't think that's being vain, though it really shouldn't matter. I'm still relatively young, I've got a while before my hair starts going. In the meantime, after everything that's gone down over the past one hundred seventy five weeks, I've calmed down quite a bit over smartphones, tablets, and mobile operating systems. I've gained a lot of perspective.

Smartphones are not the most important things ever. They're not even in the top ten. Nor are tablets, operating systems, open source processes, or really anything else associated with the development, manufacturing, or sale of mobile devices. I don't live and breath webOS like I used to (and that's not because I've also got an iPhone).

So while we continue in this holding pattern, wondering when and where we're going to land with webOS, or if we're going to ever land at all or just run out of fuel somewhere between potential destinations, I'm going to resolve to pull out my hair less over things like smartphones and tablets. There's plenty of stuff happening in the world that's worthy of my stressing about, and smartphones just don't make that list anymore (at least until mine starts misbehaving, in which case it vaults to most important thing ever in history until it's fixed).

Wait… is that a gray hair?



This scary list of missteps is why I have given up on webOS. My Sprint Pre got replaced with a Galaxy Nexus (sporting Jelly Bean) and my TouchPad runs the very stable CM9.

Maybe you have some road entries on your front up, but that means you are getting smarter. :) Derek is "what comes after September 30" not September 31.

You should switch to the Saturlunian calendar like me.

Or October first, based on my knuckle-counting trick...

Derek, I admire your passion for writing. But dude, you really need to talk to the people at Rogaine and make some bank. You got some kind of intergalactic secret in your scalp if you don't look like Telly Savalas by now.

Why haven't you updated your Pre 3 to 2.2.4?

I have... typing faster than I was thinking.

HP Bender Android smartphone appears in benchmark details

I wonder how an OpenMobile ACL equipped webOS phone running an Android app would appear in log data for a benchmarking application...

Certainly it wouldn't appear with a processor newer than any existing webOS device.

any existing device that we KNOW about...
*clings desperately to hope*

Uhuh. Somehow I doubt there are any HP webOS devices floating around there with a Snapdragon S4 processor.

Great work Derek. Our beloved webOS reminds me so much of the old air-cooled Volkswagen beetle. It has continued on for many years past the time it was sold in the U.S.A. Solely because of the avid and loyal fans who stuck by it and suppliers who marketed both stock and modified replacements and helped with modifications.
What we have is a VolksSystem with VolksPhones and VolksPads. Volks = for the people.
The Volkswagen was easily repaired and modified by the average DIY person, not unlike our webOS, thanks to people like you Derek, and webOS internals, preware, and dedicated developers and helpful users. Keep writing and help us keep hope alive.

People like to speak poorly about BlackBerry, but honestly I am looking forward to BlackBerry 10 in a few months.
I love webOS because of the multi-tasking, because of the physical keyboard, because of the straightforward environment as a developer.
BlackBerry 10 is going to be a multi-tasking OS, like webOS, and they are going to have physical keyboards. The web implementation on BlackBerry is first-class, and I've been very happy when porting my native code.
I'm not sure what will happen with Open webOS, and Meg Whitman's announcement about phones is confusing, but also logical.
I used Palm products for a very long time, and I've had to come to grips with Palm being gone. Open webOS and HP are still here, but the Palm I loved is no more. I never fancied myself a BlackBerry user, but I've seen great things, and I love the focus on "getting things done"

I agree. I'm also holding out for BB10 and its multi tasking. Its what I love about webOS. I'm also going to upgrade from Pre2 to a Verizon Pre3 soon through Amazon so I can touch to share and text with my beloved Touchpad. But I holding out hope for Whitman to come through here and get our fanbase going again!

Suffering is bad for your hair but good for the soul. Diehard WebOS users are guaranteed a better place in the afterlife. If open webOS doesn't take off, then the logical spiritual successor of webOS would be mozzilla's Firefox. Although I might try windows mobile or even android. (my backup to my pre 2 is iphone 4 and ios doesn't do it for me)

Here, here Derek. I am now an owner of an SGS2 but my uk pre(-) still sits on my bedside table teetering on the edge of oblivion... my bedside drawer...along with my wig and its broken USB cover!

The ironic thing being that soon webos in its open form may be realised on my current device opposed to the devices that it was meant to run on originally!


Keep the faith, something good has to come out of all this pain. Maybe :)

I'm still using my Touchpad everyday, but my 3 + year old Sprint pre is on borrowed time. At this point I think I'll hold out to see what the next G Nexus with JB looks like.

Derek: won't go bald.

Your hands are too busy typing up the drama and the soap opera scripted for webOS. Can't comment about the GRAM of gray hair you think you might be seeing though...

If you think about it, your job could easily be reduced and you could be a contributor to the other mobile nations sites, while having more time to pursue other goals that would expand your writing and career opportunities.

You'd also get to write about other tech for once, without labeling it "competition".

The truth is, not to be mean, (on the contrary, I say this to be nice), but you fill a position that wouldn't be filled if you left. webOS is a hobby for a very small population of people, and frankly doesn't leave you much to write about.

Sent from my LG Viper, using dolphin browser, Swype, LTE, and midrange hardware that still outperforms my touchpad, which also runs android, because there are no webOS apps. ***whew***

P.s. for reference, a "contest" for any free device device you want got ~400 replies by ~200 unique posters.

After 1 day, the free iPhone 5 on iMore has ~8,000, and that is only one option.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I remember, the TouchPad Go-thing was a contest and the iPhone 5-thing is a simple lottery without anything to do but leaving your address.

referring to the infamous haiku "contest", where people voted on the quality of the poem, with the name of the person who wrote it underneath it!

anyway, it was a givaway for any device, tablet or phone, period.

When I went to the Touchpad launch training here in New Zealand (not long before they canned TP as a product) we were told "don't think of WebOS as a particular piece of hardware, think of it as software across multiple platforms - we intend to have it across all our printers so they become smart devices, on phones when we get regulatory approval (they showed us a phone they had but could not use) and on PCs/Laptops as an instant on embedded OS to supplement Windows"

It is almost like they had the vision but did not have buy in internally across the divisions and realised themselves that the hardware that was released did not cut the mustard. If you talked to the print guys they just said "web what?"

So sad that they could not devote the time or had the leadership to carry that vision through.

When I read the title of this article I thought that you were saying good-bye to us and webOS Nation. Thankfully, you are not. Hopefully, you, this blog, and us webOS faithful are able to see a revival of our beloved O/S.

dude I hear ya but the fat lady ain't singing yet so head up my friend :-)

Well put, my friend. {Jonathan}