How HP can sell and keep webOS at the same time | webOS Nation

How HP can sell and keep webOS at the same time 56

by Derek Kessler Mon, 31 Oct 2011 6:22 pm EDT

HP hinted in their last press call (the one where they discussed why they were not spinning off the Personal Systems Group) that they were going to explore all of their options with webOS and were going to take a “holistic” approach to the decision. What exactly that means, we aren’t entirely sure, but HP’s never been shy in saying that there were parts of webOS that could find their way onto desktops, servers, and printers, and we have no reason to believe that isn’t still be true.

But we have to take particular issue with that. There are a number of problems, most notably being that such an approach would preclude the possibility of consumer devices, since HP’s made it pretty obvious they’re not going to do that. And there’s the matter that we can’t see any carriers or retailers, let alone customers, being willing to take another gamble on webOS devices from a company like HP. Sure, the leadership at HP is new, but it takes a long time to overcome being burned like that (see: the relationship between webOS and Sprint).

So we’re at a hypothetical crossroads here (emphasis on hypothetical). HP wants to cut up webOS and use the back-end bits on it’s networked devices. And we, the webOS Nation, want to see webOS flourish under a new steward with new phones, tablets, and what-have-you. No company in their right mind would license webOS from HP – they’ve shown little of the commitment necessary to make webOS work when they had a lot riding on it, why would they when there’s even less, and for a potential competitor at that?

Here’s the solution: sell webOS. Sell it to whichever company is going to do right by the developers and users and everybody that built it. But how to get those good Synergy and networking bits out and implement them for behind-the-scenes goodness on your servers and printers? License those bits back from the purchaser. “We’ll sell you webOS for X dollars, and we’ll pay you Y dollars for a perpetual license to these bits.” Promise to use the tech you’re licensing back in non-consumer-facing manners (such as on servers and printers) and allow webOS to undergo yet another rebirth. Not only does this allow you to use those precious bits as needed, but in a way it also serves to reduce the price of webOS for a potential buyer (plus acknowledges the fact that HP sees something of value in the OS).

There’s no point in trying to reinvent webOS as part of HP. Even with new leadership in charge there’s been too much damage done. It’s time to find a new house for webOS, because in reality the parts that we care about – the user interface, the apps, the seamless multitasking, etc – are not the parts that HP would care about when shoehorning webOS into a server blade.

Just a suggestion.


ima go out on a limb and say that, rather than this playing out as you described, I think Microsoft is going to license the good parts of webOS so they can use it...


since HP has already stated that they will be making a new windows tablet, maybe they'll put the good parts of webOS into that themselves...

only time will tell.

But webOS is no longer cutting edge: Microsoft has already prepared framework for web apps inside the new Windows 8 "desktop".

So webOS has no spot to wedge in. Even adding it to a regular PC is ridiculous, I mean, how on earth can our e-mail app compete against a desktop e-mail client, for example? The point about putting webOS on printers is even more comic.

This is a clever, nice looking, little mobile OS. Is that so hard to materialise?

wishful thinking...... it would be nice but i dont see anybody taking the plunge on webos and trying a 3rd time...... so sad

They should just let it disappear

I agree.HP has moved on. Its time we did too. Btw this is being sent from an android/webos tablet. I like webos, but HP doesn't care what we think anymore.....Did they ever????

I can't imagine that there is much about webOS that is non-consumer facing that would be applicable to servers and printers. The entire discussion about PCs, servers, and printers was an attempt to justify some kind of synergy between these mobile devices and whatever else HP has. However, if we have learned anything about webOS, it's that most of what people like are user-interface elements. Whenever the guts of webOS has been tested it has been found lacking as it makes up-to-date hardware seem sluggish due to its lack of optimization.

The part of the Palm acquisition that still has some value are the patents.

Not entirely, if there is one thing that I have learned in all my years in big corporations it is this: Big Copy-Machines/Printers SUCK at their UI and Touchscreens.

This is something that really would need a total overhaul and more user-friendly UI. Those printers and copy-machines would already have more than enough ressources (processor-power and memory) to handle webOS.

As for the rest: Yes, probably HP won't need to use webOS any more on their computers. This was more a manner of strengthening the webOS-eco system than to refine their PCs and Laptops. It would have made sense only on their Touch-PCs and now I don't think that they will do big investments in that department since Windows 8 is supposed to be ready around summer next year.

1 troll 2 troll 3 troll borrrred

Derek, Email this to Meg Whitman, pronto, before its too late.

I put this up, before someone else posts the "too late" phrase.

No, it's not too late to email such suggestions to Meg. In fact, there was no point in time when e-mailing suggestions to Palm/HP CEOs would have ever changed something in their decisions. No money, no voice. And it's all about the money and the only exception for that is, when it's about more money.

I'll keep my webOS devices, since they're great and they have everything that Android might have in the near future.

Frankly, if they don't have some sort of buyer by now they should just **** it out like Microsoft is doing. Probably not gonna happen since HP is not a software company. I was disappointed when they bought Palm. HP has always had **** hardware (personal experience).
someone needs to buy PALM, and proudly bring back the name. Even if HP keeps the patents and sells PALM cheap to someone who cares, they could make money in the long run.

I think, guys, that it's already too late. It makes me very sad to say but I don't see this going anywhere good.

1. We (webOS users) love the os, and want to see it on everything, why wouldn't we? But HP had a great chance to do something with it and really run (marathon), but they wouldn't/couldn't/didn't. They arent going to.

2. There must be something we (webOS users) are missing. The fact is that the rest of the mobile world is in love with android and ios, and all our huffing and puffing ain't gonna change that.

3. If HP had just kept their mouths shut and quietly looked for a propper suiter for webOS they might have pulled it off, but after Leo Medicineman shot his mouth off and essentially destroyed any percieved value the os had they blew any chance of a real contender stepping up.

I'm a diehard, I bought two Pre3's and I love them but even I am getting discouraged; I can't get some of the apps I really loved on my Pre- because the developers aren't into it anymore. I hope I'm wrong, I really do. You can all remind me of this posting and taunt me and my false predictions and I'll love every word of it.

HP has moved on and is no longer infatuated with our pretty little os. We know they're fools, but when the heart stops loving, the loving stops.

If Meg was a diehard fan of webOS we might have a chance, but that dosen't seem to be the case.

Leo announced they were open to licensing WebOS at D9 several weeks before the August 19 announcement, and it's likely they were privately shopping it prior to that.

Nobody is biting. Not sure anyone would buy it qt this point, either. It's over.

I have a feeling that the concept of licensing while making devices was there even during Palm's time. I remember Ruby talked about it during the early 2010. If anything there might be few back door negotiations happening now. I think HP had still some juice left during negotiations, a loyal fan base of 1 million.

Google should just buy it since they're making ICS look like it from what I hear.

Why buy it when they've got Duarte?

I agree. If Google could get the rights to use the User Interface and synergy parts of webOS then incorporate them into future generations of Android devices, it would not be such a hard pill to swallow if webOS users and developers had to migrate to Android.

The one technology that I hope will also be picked up by Google is the inductive charging or magnetic docking, that is just so much better than plugging and unplugging your phone every time you need to move to another location.

How to keep P|C going without going anywhere: See above.

All these articles are based on the predication that HP is capable of making good decisions.

Which we all know is laughable.

Sadly I think you cut right to the chase there deesugar.

Another laughable article. Derek, you should stick to writing about something corny like webosos. You only embarrass yourself when attempting to do anything more. Perhaps this is why they seem reluctant to call on you during mobile nations podcasts.

It's ok to disagree, but why do you need to be such a jackash?

When in Rome..

"Sell it to whichever company is going to do right by the developers and users and everybody that built it."

Ummm, wasn't that supposed to be HP?

face It they've all moved on..... Do you see anymore big name developers wasting resources on a dead os? Since day 1 HP has been destroying webOS. We all know the story and laugh at it now but its reality. I just can't wait for my iphone4s to arrive and start learning that os so that I can try and forget these last 2+ years of **** hardware.......... Does anyone know if I can use icloud on a pc?

Why does this sound familiar somehow?
(aka, deja vu?)

Face it people. HP bought Palm for their massive patent portfolio and that's was it.

Except that Palm didn't have a massive patent portfolio in the first place - that's why nobody is the least bit interested in acquiring the webOS assets from HP.

I'm not so sure. The strategy DK advocates seems to make sense in some respects, though not all. For example:

- The recent Touchpad update with connectivity support for non-webOS phones is very good strategy and shows continued interest.
- The advent of Picsel's "Smart Office" to the TouchPad is a quantum leap forward for professional users.
- The webOS social networking apps are of very high quality, though admittedly the browser could use more comprehensive Unicode support (actually easy to add) and the email could use threading.
- The newer Photosmart printers, with touchscreen and web 'print apps' for paper games, news bulletins, etc. (my non-geeky family loves them!) look as though webOS potential is already being deployed, and the printer has excellent interactivity with the Touchpad.
- These advances look like proof of concept for seeing how webOS devices can be used as on-device or remote controllers for other hardware, from large scale servers and printers through restaurant billing to smart tv.

The phone-tablet-print ecosystem is seamless and a pleasure to use. I hope Meg W has 'normal people' around her who keep her informed about all this and support her in maintaining a constructive balance of loyalties to customers, suppliers and developers as well as shareholders and can recommend a better advertising agency.

HP needs to do it'd deed to the technological society and sell webOS at a loss, putting it in the right hands, then just curl over and DIE!!

But you know that's just my thinking crazy... You know like putting webOS on printers, servers, and toasters.. **** out of here man... nobody was even thinking about this before HP brought Palm. WebOS is what it is and we fell in love with it for what it was.. A phones OS... Ok on a tablet it's great, but that goes to show how much HP didn't know about webOS or the motivation the had behind it.

I think this was half the reason they bought Palm. They wanted an embedded OS they could throw on to all sorts of devices.

The real point of the editorial Derek should have been instead of your idea which is laudable if unlikely to happen because of the lack of suitors is for them to open source webOS. That would solve a lot of the issues. We would have a smaller community that would bootstrap it to any device or the open source framework would attract big hardware manufacturers like Android did.

Totally agree. This is probably the only way WebOS doesn't completely shribble up and die.

Another thing they could do is bundle WebOS with their PCs like they talked about doing. HP sells about 60 million PCs a year. That would expand the market for developers dramatically.

Boring!!! Damn it HP.......what the f*c* do you think!!!??? All of you: need to do something interesting right now.........sell it or develope it in a better way!!! QUICKLY MEN!!!

So for that Google show buy webOS and integrate it into Android

What parts of webOS does Google need to buy to integrate into Android exactly? The core Android OS is miles ahead of webOS in terms of optimisation and performance and the UI can be easily copied if Google so choose (which I doubt they will).

You'll have noticed that the Playbook already ripped off the Card view task switching paradigm - and there are elements of the webOS notifications design within both Android and iOS already, so it doesn't appear as though Palm were smart enough to actually patent or protect those elements.

If Google could get the rights to use the User Interface and Synergy parts of webOS then incorporate them into future generations of Android devices, that would be super.
The one technology that I hope will also be picked up by Google is the inductive charging and magnetic docking. That is just so much better than plugging and unplugging your phone every time you need to move to another location.

blackberry to me is a viable option even though they haven't been mentioned much in the rumor mill. They would have everything to gain from picking them up. Their OS is already taking borrowing heavily as it stands now. Why not just make it official. Mash it up in a way that makes sense (webOS UI, blackberry security). webOS to RIM would help advance in their OS, webOS fans can get out of a life saver and hop onto a boat that is still afloat in the smartphone market, and hp could even benefit by licensing the OS parts they need for their Hardware schemes and systems just as Derek has laid out.

All parties involved could benefit in such a scenario, right?

oh sure. A dying os buying a dead os. Problem solved folks. Why isn't blackberry doing this already?

Companies that, unlike Palm, have lots of customers can't afford to reboot every two years - like Palm. RIM is in the middle of a reboot. Starting out with a new OS at this stage of the marathon would be like beginning your race an hour after the leaders.

Problem with this scenario along with all the others presented here - who actually wants to buy WebOS? - Sony, HTC, Samsung have said no, Motorola are an android house (and soon to be owned by google), Nokia have gambled big on WP7, Amazon already have five million pre-orders for their android fork and that leaves...

ZTE? ???

Or LG?

It's over. WebOS had a good run. We'll, not really. Palm botched it's release and the hardware. Apotheker botched it and then couldn't figure out how to recover from that enough to save it and his job. Whitacker botched it and bailed to the notion of Windows 8 Tablets, so it's over. They'll either sit on it and wait to sue someone for IP violations or start selling off bits and pieces of it's patents for chunks of cash. It will suck when Microsoft reveals that they've bought it but with their position with Windows Phone, the FTC and the DOJ can't really say no. Anything would help Windows Phone. It would be great if the DOJ put some sort of "no suing clause" as a requirement so we can avoid making more lawyers rich with IP lawsuits.

If Leo was still heading HP I would believe that he would make a dumb deal like that. A smarter deal would say we will sell you WebOS at discounted price of 600 million, sand you let us use the product in none consumer products at no cost.

Out even open source WebOS and then anyone could use it.

that's exactly what I said. that strategy worked for Android but possibly only because a big company like google was backing it. If we open source and get a big company interested like an Amazon or Facebook that might save it.

you think webos is worth $600 million? as of right now webos does not have any devices in the market(touchpad, pre 3, veer are all dead) and not to mention developers. it might be worth half that on a good day, maybe......

I wouldn't worry about the demise of webOS as long as Tod Bradley and Jon Rubenstein are together. I think JR is working with some new models that they may release in 2012. To stay in the PC business one needs tablets. And webOS tablets are perfect for their enterprise customers. Less non-essential apps on TouchPads is a blessing, it will have less security problems for enterprise customers. HP wouldn't make a foolish mistake again to go solely on winmob-8, when they already have webOS in house.

Just wait and see what happens. Long live webOS.

Sure. Don't worry. Don't pay attention to what HP says. Don't take notice of all of the webOS execs jumping ship. Just wait for the magical device to show up from webOS's discontinued hardware division.

yeah i bet you jr is hiding under his desk right about now hoping that pink slip wont make it to his office

I think MS s**t it's pants when HP bought Palm. They were well into development for WinMo7 at that point and were probably hoping HP would be their main partner for getting it out on tablets and phones and such. If I were to guess, I'd say MS has been manoeuvring behind the scenes since then to undermine WebOS (so HP could switch back to WinMo).

Apparently no one needs to license synergy or the UI. Everyone else is doing it now. Good ideas, too easily copied on better hardware.

My Pre2 has developed the headphone jack problem that I had on my very first sprint Pre-.

An all html5 operating system. Sounded like a good idea, but three years later Webos3 has the slowest javascript interpreter of any mobile web browser. My PalmPad freezes in the middle of interactions constantly. Too irritating.

I am thinking seriously of an N9. Yes, it costs more than $700 now, but the price is staying up there. Pre3's have rapidly come down from $600 to the price I paid for my Pre2, $200 ish.

I know that from Nokia I will get good hardware. And it is seriously beautiful and smaller than a Pre3.

Jon's hardware team could not get a slab phone working with the webos software team? WHA? I've read that there are more software engineers in the webos group than in android. And they still cannot get it working right. There is some serious dysfunction in there. There was no committed manager to get that ship on course. Jon was not a hero, he was the designer of the essentially simple iPod.

If they had sent a drawing of a Pre concept to HTC three years ago and wrote a check this may have turned out the way we wished. Now it is over.

Since I am so enamored of dead end OS's (Amiga, OS/2, BeOs, Palm, Webos) I should get that N9. It looks a lot better than the latest Palm/HP Pre.

HP is not interested in the backend of webOS! Why? It's Linux with some simple modifications, some DBus applications. Nothing new.

Embedded Linux is already available in many distributions, no need for a new one. HP has a running operation system for printers and devices.

HP might be interested in the frontend: Enyo. A JavaScript toolset allowing Cloud service frontends. Enyo runs on Webkit, so might be used on most current smartphones: configuring printers with a Smartphone - using Enyo. Monitoring HP servers from any Smartphone - using Enyo.

You know any parts HP wants to keep they can do so in the sale. Many contracts will often allow the seller to keep the rights to specific pattens/technology, with a non-compete clause which would keep HP from using Palm patents against lets say Amazon.

This isn't rare at all.

I can guarantee you, unless well HP hires bad employees..., that this has already been considered if those "bits" are so important to them.

Or HP could sell off WebOS and go back to using Android for their needs. Android is free, no licensing price is involved and HP doesn't have to develop the software at all or consumer hardware to run it on unless they want to. WebOS is better off in the hands of a company who knows how to utilize it. Customized Android can serve HP's need going forward.

I had a pre plus, as with others here love webOS. I had an android phone, now have HTC HD7 windows phone. I have always missed webOS. Finally decided to buy pre3 off eBay. Love this phone! Got a touchpad, enjoy it as well. Why lead off with the Veer, really... Way to show everyone how serious you are. Pre3 should have been front piece then the touchpad..... As far as the Veer, could care less. I don't think this story will end well, until it dies I will rock my pre3.

I think we should band together along with the Homebrew group then go storm HP and wrestle WebOS away from them! We can make it work!