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HP cutting webOS staffing by half, engineering employees on the way out 73

by Derek Kessler Tue, 28 Feb 2012 6:15 pm EST

HP cutting webOS staffing by half, engineering employees on the way out

HP today announced that as part of their transition to making open source software instead of devices and hardware they are further reducing the headcount at what remains of the webOS unit. Approximately 275 of the 500 webOS employees will be affected by the don't-call-it-layoffs, almost entirely in engineering (those that make webOS work with hardware). With nearly 350,000 employees, HP surely has more than enough openings for these engineers to fill, should they so desire to keep working with the company (who knows, they might not even have to move buildings). The move leaves webOS with around 225 employees, following notable attrition and little recruiting over the past few months.

The move fits with HP's plans to move the webOS group out of the old 1000-employee Palm campus and to the smaller space in Cupertino that HP acquired when they purchased ArcSight in 2010. While we can understand the need to get rid of positions that are no longer needed (even if Whitman intends for HP to eventually make webOS tablets again in the future), we can't help but be saddened to see yet another reduction in the webOS workforce.

HP's statement on the matter:

As webOS continues the transition from making mobile devices to open source software, it no longer needs many of the engineering and other related positions that it required before. This creates a smaller and more nimble team that is well-equipped to deliver an open source webOS and sustain HP’s commitment to the software over the long term.

HP is working to redeploy employees affected by these changes to other roles at the company.

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73 Comments

Sniff....I'm sadder than I was before i read this.

That seems a little odd. It's obvious that they're trying to make it "all Enyo, all the time". But if you're a device manufacturer. you want the snappiest experience with the least investment in hardware. You'd think that there'd be as much need for some localization/optimization engineers now. I suppose it's all to fit it into the context of a browser running on "someone's" localized kernel. It's kind of sad that webOS has been reduced to being a open source UI that some company, if they fancy it, can use to save some effort when building their own OS. As opposed to packaging it with a kernel fully tweaked to run webOS quickly from the get-go.

"You'd think that there'd be as much need for some localization/optimization engineers now."

My first thought as well. *sigh*

Last on out, please turn off the lights and lock the door.

I guess, the all laptops with WebOS option in 2012 is as dead as the webos printer. If anyone out there still believe in Meg's hint of Touchpad 2 in 2013, I'm gonna double the price of the snake oil I sell them.

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Just release the full damn source code and pull the hell out, HP... you're killing that tiny bit of what's left of WebOS.

If we didn't see the writing on the wall before, it should be more than obvious by now.

HP doesn't seem to be actively looking for supporters of webOS and now we get this news. I think this open source thing was a just a ruse so no one get's really pissed off at HP for mucking up a platform with such great potential.

I think the fat lady is about to get on stage.....

This announcement seems entirely consistent with HP's plan to move to open-source webOS without hardware. Sad but inevitable.

You mean Meg? She's not fat ;) (Sorry, couldn't resist).

folks, accept it's all over. So what with open source if no planned hardware from ANYONE.

sure glad some has Android now working on the touchpad as I am not spending another dime on webOS apps.

You knew this when you bought in though most likely during the firesale correct? We all had hope but it was about as real as believing in the Easter Bunny. Not buying webOS apps really only punishes you and the developers, to HP its a pittance. Want to make more of a statement? Boycott buying their hardware (computers, printers, calculators, etc.) and see if you can talk your friends and even your IT department into doing the same. Heck, post an online anti-HP petition and I'll sign it too. But I agree though, I think I may start reading up on the Cyanogen Mod stuff just to cover my butt and, unfortunately, get with the times. Then again I might just go Blackberry 10 or Windows 8 and throw this cracking case POS out in the trash and start fresh. If only some manufacturer would make new case backs...

you can get every webos user on the planet to not buy hp stuff and they won't notice because there aren't nearly enough people to make losing those purchases matter. As for talking to my friend. The only two i know hated webos and both had a pre minus and a pixi. All the other people i know don't care and/or don't know what webos is. You wanna get there attention get a company that was planning on buying 10000 computers to publicly switch to dell and use webos as a reason.

Yeah, as if a company that needs to buy a bunch of computers could ever justify taking webOS into consideration over all of the other needs of the organization and the interests of its shareholders.

So much for Meg's lip service, I was naive enough to have hope, even after Rubenstein and everyone else who was substantial left. Fully committed to what Meg?

folks, accept it's all over. So what with open source if no planned hardware from ANYONE.

sure glad some has Android now working on the touchpad as I am not spending another dime on webOS apps.

i think that now that the iPads hitting the popular hit right now, they are setting the standard of whats to come. there doesnt seem to be more information or excitement of whats to come while waiting to see if webOS can get on some kind of new hardware in the next year or so.

I most of the webOS crew polished their resumes just after Leo's announcement. Some of these people have families and they all need to eat. It is better to secure a new job during the turmoil and ask to be let back into the fold if things work out than to stick it out and put your family's welfare on the line if it doesn't. This economy is not in the greatest shape to allow for playing around like this.

On a lighter note...I hope they held on to the printer guy. I'm still waiting for the webOS printer; if only to be able to declare "Enyo Fax...erm...Face" (not really).

The thing that saddens, or maybe frustrates me more now is the fact that Palm apparently had so many people to begin with (1500 - 2000??) when they started on webOS. Even with this amount of people they couldn't come up with anything better and couldn't do more effort in creating momentum around webOS....

Keep in mind that when they sent all the way to Mexico for an ex Apple engineer, and started webOS, they were already desperate. The injection of cash from Elevation also tells of a company going broke. So even back then it was probably already too late.

Let this be a lesson to all future execs, boards and engineers.

There was no "injection" of cash. Palm and half a billion in cash when Elevation took over. They gave it all the way in a dividend and levered up the company so people could get rich off the stock.

There certainly WAS an injection of cash. What Palm chose to do w/ the initial investment is another issue, but the company did receive proceeds. What do you call the buying up of preferred and common stock to the tune of $325 million then additional investments of $100 mil??

But thx for proving my point anyway; half a million dollars to bring a new smartphone to market (R&D, marketing, etc) AND run the company AND pay dividends at the same time?? LOL

They were broke and desperate and Elevation Partners only prolonged their suffering. In the end, $.9 bn was not gonna cut it.

"More chefs" does not automatically translate into "a better meal".

True, but a successful kitchen is built of more than just chefs.

Sorry for anybody losjng a job, but don't think this makes a difference. Anybody still in the webOS group right now is probably just waiting for the guards to doze off so they can make a break for it.

I imagine these were people who just hadn't been able to jump to a new job yet. Anytime you gut 3/4 of a corporate division in the space of a few months, the survivors are going to be looking to leave ASAP on their terms.

Here, here Jessica...+1

jessica:

Amazingly, there is still a core of folks here who are willing to see where this ride takes us. It is getting really quiet, but we're supposed to learn more this afternoon.

Not everyone who could has already bailed - though I fully understand all of the H1-B visa people _had_ to find something a bit more secure. Being a citizen I don't have to worry about being sent packing if I don't have a job for 2 months. (I _do_ tend to get an earful when that happens, but I don't get sent back to Illinois...)

edc

Being sentimental and also comfortable with my apparently near-prehistoric Pre 2 and Touchpad, I'm going to run them into the ground and you'll have to pry them out of my cold fingers....Oh, what was that? iPad 3 coming March 7th? (just kidding...)

Tnats really bad news for the affected employees. But its also a clear indicator that HP probably wont make any new webOS hardware. Still hoping for them to announce that tablet Meg talked about.

I enjoy my Pre+ and TouchPad, but I bought a Lenovo laptop last month. I don't want to reward HP any longer. No use in supporting HP if their not supporting my mobile OS of choice.

yeah that'll teach em!

Why do so many seem surprised? We knew this was coming. With no new webOS hardware coming this year, most of these people won't have any work to do, and would have to be reassigned or made redundant.

And even if new hardware was going to be developed over the next year, this probably would have still happened, as the whole idea of putting out an open source OS is so that it can run on a variety of hardware, so there is no need for a specialized webOS hardware team.

I'm shocked that there were 250+ engineers still on the payroll for Palm/webOS. Here's hoping they are able to transition into new positions throughout HP. Obviously, there is no reason to have engineers if you don't have any hardware products in the pipeline, so no big shocker there.

> I'm shocked that there were 250+ engineers
> still on the payroll for Palm/webOS.

I'm more amazed at that 1000+ people two years ago. I hope those families aren't left out in the cold but, you know, "mother company" will always announce it as if it wasn't a bad thing at all. It's always the same, good workers go out while managers get rich.

> there s no reason to have engineers if you
> don't have any hardware products in the
> pipeline

Aha. So I guess operating system software should be written by a couple of bachelors.

With the iPad 3 hitting the shelves in a couple of weeks and setting the new standard, there isn't going to be much enthusiasm for waiting to see of webOS can get on some kind of new hardware in the next year or so.

> With the iPad 3 hitting the shelves in a couple of weeks and setting the new
> standard, there isn't going to be much enthusiasm for {webOS hardware}

Flawed argument.
The same could have been said of any other high end tablet or phone, so the iPad 3 wont change things much. The truth is, those who were hopeful then will be hopeful now (maybe less so w/ the recent development), because if they were going to adopt iOS, they would have done so already. Sometimes, its not about whats 'better'; the road less traveled can be more appealing to a few.

Besides that, it makes no difference going forward. With an open webOS, specialized hardware is no longer needed and they'll have their hardware - any hardware - in the end. And if the Cyanogen example is any indicator, there will be quite a few happy campers. Even if nothing panned out, the next stop for the holdouts is likely the new Tegra 3 devices or the Jellybean+ replacements once their current webOS devices die.

it will go something like this:

Until now, I was willing to hang on to my hopes for new webOS tablet hardware. Now that I have seen what Apple is doing, I suddenly realize how outdated webOS will be by the time it is fully open-sourced. It will be time for iPad 4 then.

And do you really believe that that running a substitute OS will ever get any traction for any hardware? These tablets aren't PC's. There is much tighter integration between hardware and software.

And do you really believe that that running a substitute OS will ever get any traction for any hardware? These tablets aren't PC's. There is much tighter integration between hardware and software.

This! Even on PCs where it is much easier to swap and OS (relatively speaking as compared to mobile platforms), the the vast majority stick with what was on the box when they bought it. Those waiting on this practice to become popular on mobile should get very comfortable...it's gonna be a while.

well it's true for every other tablet and phone. That doesn't make it flawed. It makes it true.

sorry the road less traveled isn't appealing to enough to matter. Otherwise it would be the road well traveled. The fact that there are a few people that really want and are excited about webos is fine but those numbers are miniscule in context of the global smartphone market. Be realistic. Apple sold more phones of one model in one day then Palm and HP sold of every webos phone model combined over three years. What in God's name do you think will make them sell more or do better then HP did with monumentally less resources and less interest?

But you're missing the point.

Its not, and never will be about market share, mind share or selling devices - that those wont happen are foregone conclusions. I couldnt care less how things look for webOS globally or whether hardware traction will result from alternative OS use. This is about choice. This is about freedom of choice. It is about principles. I, for one, will NEVER personally use Google-run hardware and I avoid their services as much as possible. Heck, I dont even like sending mail to gmail recipients. I feel pretty much the same way about Apple and its products (gave away an iPhone 4 recently; never used it) and Im in the process of weaning myself off Microsoft.

The issues for me are not smartphone- or manufacturer- or market-specific. While they're beyond the scope of the comments here, I will say again that they involve principles. And tell me, what is wrong w/ principles? What happened to the time when men and women had those and used their philosophies and opinions to guide their actions?

Once again, there are many, who, for political, philosophical or ideological reasons, choose a course of action. There are those who would stand by their convictions and refuse something, regardless of how pretty it looks. Many pride themselves on not jumping onboard just because its the 'winning team.' As for yours truly, I'd honestly go without a mobile device if Apple or Google were the only options.

There is nothing wrong w/ one exercising his/her right to choose; however unpopular the choice.
And that is as realistic as it gets.

> sorry the road less traveled isn't appealing to enough to matter. Otherwise it would be the road well traveled.

I take it you're not familiar w/ the term :)

You shouldn't let market share, etc. drive your principles. Good for you. If you want to use an up-to-date smartphone, though, you're going to have to pick something that most people have heard of unless you plan to write all of your own software and build all of your own web-based services.

The rest of us sell-outs, I guess, will just have to continue to download and launch whatever is new. Oh my gosh, it's killing me!

You shouldn't let market share, etc. drive your principles. Good for you. If you want to use an up-to-date smartphone, though, you're going to have to pick something that most people have heard of unless you plan to write all of your own software and build all of your own web-based services.

The rest of us sell-outs, I guess, will just have to continue to download and launch whatever is new. I do admire someone who has so little else to worry about in life that technology principles guide your daily activities. Most of us are just trying to find something that will make our lives a little easier and more enjoyable.

> I do admire someone who has so little else to worry about in life that
> technology principles guide your daily activities.

I see you're having a slower week than usual (as long as we're venturing into the land of cheap shots ^^)? I did say "political, philosophical or ideological reasons...," and I did say that they're beyond the scope of these comments. So since I didnt elaborate, and thus, since you clearly do not understand, maybe you should check the holier-than-thou attitude. Your choices are entirely up to YOU; no one here presumes to know whats better for you. So find it in yourself to show others that respect and take your evangelizing to the mirror.

Before this otherwise rational exchange goes further south, I'll call it a day.
Until next time.

The people at Palm knew this was coming. It's sad to see the demise of Palm and webOS in this fashion.

Not sure what's worse. HP buying Palm and extending for another year the death sprial Palm was already in, or the way the current demise is being carried out.

Regardless - the death spiral has been in progress for quite some time. HP just prolonged it.

I made the switch to the Galaxy S2 on Sprint. Android got alot better then when I last used it. Feels so nice to have everything look fresh and nice and have a lot of official apps. I miss WebOS but it's pointless waiting around, I waited for too long.

Good luck WebOS

Wow. This has been the only post in days on this site.

webOSobituaries.com lol

Don't get me wrong, I will buy an Android superphone and load webOS on top of it WHEN IT'S FRACKING POSSIBLE lol.

Until then I still come here every few days to hear of the recent deaths.

Android is the way to go I'm sorry to say it.  I've had an android phone for 6 months now and getting used to it.  Plus with phonegap and android's open platform, androids the most likely to get any open sourced webos stuff happening.
Apple is the evil empire, do not succumb to them easily.    CM9 your tablet now.  ;-D

i honestly don't know how this comes as a big surprise. It's been on the wall for a very long time.

Ok, so no HP staff to make WebOS work on Hardware etc. So what, it's going OpenSource, that means 'WE' can make WebOS what we want it to be (We being the community).

The thing is, WebOS, provided it's fully outed soon, could be a good OS for the likes of Raspberry Pi, or some other small low powered device, not just phones & tablets.

Heck, you could use it for all sort, just like any other linux distro, but with multitouch support, dual core support, on screen keyboard etc already pretty much available. It's small, ideal for Web related stuff, and has Apps for it already - with NO ISSUE regarding IP. Ok, there may be driver issues, but isnt that what OpenSource is good at fixing?

So, what we need is some new, budding hardware firm to stick it on some RockChip slate, find a way to get it on HTC phone, hardware, make a Raspberry Pi based Media Center, Cash Register, Home Automation system blah blah, and have the OS as WebOS!

What I'd like to see is a comment or two from a small firm that is interested in using WebOS for some project like the above, so how about it?

...just adding to my post above!

If I had the cash, I'd want to hire some of the HP guys that could develop WebOS (OPenSource), I'd want to hire some from the existing WebOS dev community, and I'd buy some kit for them to use to develop on.

The thing is, WebOS doesn't make WebOS successful, neither does the hardware, it's the ideas, it's usefulness the ease of use that makes it.

WebOS has effectively failed, not because of hardware (although arguably not the best), not because it's a poor OS (cos it really isn't), it's failed because the very things that set it apart from everything else were never developed enough, or marketted properly, and what it did that was similar to others just wasn't quite as good (camera for example), and so was always in a play to catchup.

Thankfuly, there is a relatively sizeable community that likes the OS, and within that community there are those with strong Dev skills, we just need someone with vision and money to start small and see if WebOS can fill the destiny it was designed for (on desktop PC's, on Small devices, Phones, Tbalets etc).

If I had the money, I'd be right in there - anyone got an email for Richard Branson?

I think I know why you don't have the cash.

I was always puzzled why it's _not_ normally
called a linux distribution.
is it because the kernal is non-standard ?

Regarding it's "Destiny":

Holy shit i wouldn't want almost any of that "mobile" crap on a desktop / workstation. Especially not screen-smearing, dumbed-down "multi-touch enabled and so easy-to-use" interfaces. It's ok for tablet PCs and such, but FFS don't dumb down also environments where real processing and work is done. And no your hyper HTPC doesn't count here, because this can already be done with a Trimslice and _proper_ media management software (MythTV, XMBC and all this), not feature-restricted mobile crap.

HP is all in on Windows 8.

HP announced exit from webOS hardware months ago, so this is nothing sensational. HP's official position from last year was NO More webOS hardware!. This is only HP following their plan for Open webOS.

HP is a bit pathetic. They have such a good product and put so much management effort to completely demoralize the team responsible for it.

Since everything is shifting towards open source WebOS and after hearing this news, should we assume that there won't be any more significant updates to WebOS v3.x for the TouchPad?

I would expect at least one more update, possibly 2, and then that's it for webOS 3.

I so agree Android is the way to go and Apple is like the plague(FOXConn employes are treated like DOGS). I've enjoyed my PP+ but its time to move on to Android since W8 isnt coming anytime soon to VZ. Im definately upgrading my HP TP to CM9 since HP doesnt look like there gonna update the TP to W8 either, HP you so have disapppointed fans and employees :(

I wonder how WebOs can be open-sourced by September without the :

- entire multi-media / graphics team
- 80 % of the user-space team
- 80 % of the kernel team
- entire QA team

What HP has committed to doing (as if that really means anything all of a sudden) and what people have extrapolated in their mind are two different things. HP says they didn't buy Palm to get into the smartphone business and people expect a super phone. HP says they won't rule out webOS hardware at some point and people are looking to Mobile World Congress 2013.

If they haven't had any serious interest among hardware makers they will be dialing back the hardware part of the open source project and make the whole thing a browser-based platform and call it a day.

I would have thought I would have seen this question already asked but it hasn't been....

How many software engineers does Google employ for the development of Android?

I don't know but, for reference, after Apple bought PA Semi, they employed over 1000 engineers who work on the chips alone.

I heard they got rid of their developer relations department as well. Guess HP doesn't care about developers either. I am pretty much moving my apps and then I am done. I would suggest everyone else do the same since no hardware means no devices means no sales.

Thanks for the memories Palm... we'll remember you fondly.

There probably isn't much need for people to go to major developers to assist them in porting to webOS. No matter how much HP cares about developers, it's not going to happen. You can't tout a rapidly-shrinking install base that equals about a weekend of Android or Apple sales. The whole webOS bandwagon for developers depended on the idea that webOS might grow and that one could get in on the ground floor.

If the HP webOS hard ware people are on the way out then this is a good thing. This means that HP will not try to make hardware to run webOS which was as bad as before. The exception was the Pre 3 phone which is really good (I have four of them). The Pre and Pre 2 and touchpad hardware was not good enough. Surely there are enough people left at HP to port webOS on to an HTC or Samsung smartphone. That combination would be a winner. But it needs doing soon.

I was reading an article the other day about Windows 8 that talked about how Microsoft does not quit easily. Something we all know from experience. How they swung the entire company around and "embrace and extended" the Internet. IE went from non-existent to eventually burying Netscape. I noted that HP seems to be just the opposite. They often can't quit fast enough. They are child who takes his ball and goes home if he's not the best player the first time he tries a new game. HP is lucky that in its past it engineered some great breakthrough technologies that it is still living off of today. What a shame. So much value destroyed so quickly by such breathtaking incompetence.

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