From the Editor's Desk: Last blog standing
Today, David Baxter of webOSroundup.com announced that the site will have one last podcast next week and then close up shop. While we've been in competition with webOSroundup since their inception in late 2009, we've also always been on friendly terms. Sure, we battled back and forth for readers, exclusives, and just getting the story up first, but in the end - like the webOS community as a whole - we were in this whole thing together.
The past few years have been a lot of up and down and we've watched competitors rise and fall. webOSroundup is just the latest site to fall, but also the largest, and while in any normal, healthy ecosystem I might be celebrating the fall of a competitor, with the situation we find our community and platform in it's not that simple and it's not good news.
The reason I see this as not good news is because it speaks to the state of the webOS community as a whole. There's no hiding the fact that activity and enthusiasm are down across the webOS space. It's still a vibrant and thriving community, but with each passing day it gets smaller and smaller as users make the entirely understandable decision to jump onto a ship that isn't sinking. Sure, the U.S.S. Open webOS might have the course set towards the harbor, but we're on a boat that's being rebuilt out at sea, with limited supplies and we're not sure how much fuel is left in the tanks.
What once was a thriving set of numerous webOS blogs has been reduced to a handful. There's us, the webOS Nation, as the leading webOS site by far and what amounts to the last blog standing, and a handful of webOS sites catering to non-English audiences in Europe. Just like the users who have jumped from the webOS ship, I can't blame the managers and editors of other sites for pulling back or closing up shop in the face of declining traffic. It takes money to run the servers and pay for maintenance and writers and the like. It takes time to write the articles and manage the forums. And if that time and investment isn't getting a return, it becomes harder and harder to justify continuing the work. It's entirely understandable.
We at webOS Nation came into this with a huge advantage. When webOS was announced and PreCentral launched we were building on an already eight-year history from VisorCentral and TreoCentral and brought along a few hundred thousand members to kickstart the site. We started the race as the frontrunner and have worked long and hard to maintain that position by delivering the best news, reviews, forums, and editorials that we possibly could. Are there some things we wish we'd done differently? Sure, but until somebody invents a time machine we're just going to have to consider those lessons learned and not repeat those mistakes.
I say all of this not to gloat. The loss any remotely serious competition for webOS Nation is not a good thing. The webOS community is still strong, but we're understandably tired and confused and frustrated. We've been through three years of ups and downs from Palm and the HP. The excitement was almost always met head-on with disappointment. This community has been through a lot and it always amazes me that it still endures.
We face an uncertain future as a community. Open webOS is getting released, bit-by-bit, with a full release projected for September. That's five-to-six months before we'll have a complete picture of what this new open source version of webOS is going to look like, and after that it'll still take months before any devices are released running the OS. It could be a full year from now before a review of a new webOS device gets to be posted up on the front page of this blog.
My gut tells me that day will come and the webOS Nation community will still be here, waiting anxiously for the verdict on the latest chapter of webOS. It'll still be a strong community, but I'm sure we'll have seen plenty more leave for greener pastures. The webOS community will rebound and begin to grow again and you'll all be able to say "I was here when…" and then rattle off a dozen events so preposterous in hindsight that it's amazing webOS still exists as a platform.
webOS Nation is not going away. I'm not going away. The forums and reviews and how-to guides and yes, even the wish list posts, are not going away. I'm sad to see a competitor like webOSroundup fall precisely because it speaks to the state of the webOS community. But I'm also emboldened to forge forward - we know you come here for the great news, editorials, reviews, and discussion, and we have a duty to continue providing the platform for that to happen to the utmost of our capabilities.
I'm not going to say we're the last best hope on Earth for webOS and this community, but webOS Nation has a mission and we're going to do our very best to fulfill it. We won't let you down, we just hope that HP and company don't let all of us down.
So, bon voyage to David and the team at webOSroundup. It's was a good few years and we're sad to see you go.