If you're going to do something, make it matter | webOS Nation

If you're going to do something, make it matter 34

by Derek Kessler Tue, 07 Aug 2012 10:02 pm EDT

If you're going to do something, make it matter

HP's newest advertising campaign struck us at webOS Nation as interesting, if not outright ironic given the part of HP that we cover. It's an aspirational concept: "Make it matter". Here's the narration from the 60-second spot that introduced the campaign:

"It's something you're born with, and lives inside you, inspires the things you choose to do, things that may not always change the world in a big way, but can change it in a million little ways. You do what you do because it matters. At HP we don't just believe in the power of technology, we believe in the power of people when technology works for you. To do the things that matter. To dream. To learn. To create. To work. If you're going to do something, make it matter."

HP's website dedicated to the campaign shows a number of ways that HP believes highlights the "Make it matter" concept, including medical information technology, environmentally-friendly data centers, distance education, and of course printing. This is HP, after all; if you can't tie it into printing, you're not doing it right. Though we bashed the launch ad a bit to start, we'll admit that it's kind of grown on us as we get to know the concept a bit better. It's certainly worlds better than that poorly conceived and even more poorly received "Everybody On" campaign HP launched right around the introduction of the TouchPad, Veer, and Pre3.

But then, even with the impatient Leo Apotheker's pistol cocked and his finger hovering over the trigger, ready to obliterate any chance webOS stood in the market, the webOS Global Business Unit was trying to make it matter. They released the Veer and TouchPad and were hard at work getting more apps into the App Catalog and improving the tablet and smartphones with updates that improved stability, increased speed, and added functionality. Had webOS been given a chance under Apotheker it might have been able to matter, but we'll never know.

With webOS now going open source, HP has a chance to "make it matter" again, but even after my visit to the Palm campus (full disclosure: HP payed for both my flight and hotel) I'm not overflowing with confidence that the higher level HP organization is willing to enable them to make it happen. There's something to be said for corporate secrecy; you don't want to tip your hand before you're ready to play your cards, but with the current shape of the webOS userbase (a relative non-factor in the grand scheme of both HP's customer base and the mobile market as a whole; sorry folks) and HP's ongoing effort to open source webOS, it's simply a different game.

Here's my problem: the roadmap. HP's done a decent job of adhering to that roadmap, yes, though sometimes, as with the still incomplete Ares 2, that adherence has been in spirit only. In speaking with some former HP employees (HP was careful to instruct employees not to discuss business with me, aside from Enda McGrath and those in briefings with me), there was a division about how they felt about the roadmap. Overall the opinion was that the webOS group had become focused on fulfilling the roadmap, even if the goalposts set were unrealistic. Some believed that that having a goal - no matter how unachievable it was - was still a good thing; others characterized the roadmap as typical of HP, setting benchmarks to be achieved without an eye towards the quality of the results.

Either way, we're approaching the end of the roadmap. August is slated to include the release of the Open webOS build model, the first Beta for Open webOS, and a final release. There's a lot of pressure on the webOS group right now to deliver on this roadmap, but yet we know they want to deliver a quality product. I don't lack faith in the HP employees working on webOS - if they were incompetent they wouldn't be doing the work they're doing - but I still need to question the higher HP organization's aim, lack thereof, or failure to communicate such.

When the Open webOS roadmap was unveiled in January we got an idea of what to expect over the next seven months. We're now in month seven, and we have no clue what comes in September. Not a clue.

The problem is, as I've been saying for the past seven months, open source is not a plan. Open source is a step in what should be a much larger plan. If HP's going to, as CEO Meg Whitman said at the outset of their plan to open source webOS, be committed to webOS for at least a few more years, then what comes after open sourcing it? Does HP just sit and hope that somebody picks up the newly open sourced operating system, despite that it's not fundamentally different than the webOS we already know. It might perform better and run on more things than the webOS of a year ago, but is Open webOS any better, and thus any more likely to succeed, for being open source?

What does a multi-year commitment mean to Whitman, the HP board, and the rest of HP's leadership? Is it just keeping on the lights wherever the webOS group is working until they're tired of pouring HP's diminishing profits into an unsuccessful venture, or does it mean that HP starts making webOS hardware again and doubles down on making it a success. Or does it mean that HP cuts the middle path and convinces other manufacturers to use Open webOS on their hardware (perhaps the moves of Google and Microsoft give Open webOS an opening here)? We don't know, and frankly I'm not certain HP knows.

As we come up on the one year mark of HP's colossally boneheaded decision to axe webOS hardware less than two months after the TouchPad launched, I sincerely hope that HP believes their own marketing advice when it comes to webOS: If you're going to do something, make it matter.


"Make it Matter." How ironic.

I have to say every ad HP makes is either a hit or miss and when they miss they miss... I loved webOS with its cool features not seen in android or even iOS. I just hope this open source gets somewhere.

posted from hp touchpad

On January 27, 2012, Jon Rubinstein left HP after his 24 months contract ended. In an interview with him he said that he will not be retiring and he will take a break and think what to do next. Well Jon, If you're going to do something, make it matter!

Sorry, Jed, that is surely wishful thinking-

I like the questions you raise, good job Derek.

I would have rather seen RIM buy WebOS and switch their operating system. I think that could have given RIM the boost they need to be on top again.

RIM?? What about Nokia? They were in the driver's seat to buy palm. Nokia needed to buy Palm and knew it. They ended up firing the guy sent to buy Palm, after he messed up the negotiations. The mobile world would be much different today had Nokia bought Palm.

Mmm... wouldn't that've be awesome? A polycarbonate cyan Pre 3? I'd love to see a Lumia 900 run webOS, the hardware is just magnificent.

Please... Instead of being the one doing the firesale, they got adopted by daddy Warbucks. I'm sure they're not crying too hard about the missed opportunity.

Derek, I'm not sure you got my email because I have some goverment agents who are constantly messing with my internet connection and right as I hit send my internet connection went dead. So here was my response:
I don't have any inside information. I read this on the internets:) So you should be able to research this.

When a product line is discontinued, a company does not hang it's head in shame. They move forward.

Move Forward?? Like HP has?

HP has followed a roadmap but does not seem to have a destination in mind. The road seems to be nearing a deadend, In other words, it appears that Open webOS does NOT matter since HP has now confused its customers, employees and stockholders as to its purpose or the "strategy". Virtually nobody understands the whole webOS saga that has unfolded over the last year. Open webOS is a very odd software project that runs on nothing that exists or anything that you can buy. There has been no indication as to why anyone should even want it on their existing hardware (TouchPad or Pre3) -- is it better in some way (new features, bugs fixed) or is it just "Open"? For this reason I really don't care that it is not able to port to the existing hardware. HP has mis-handled this product and virtually destroyed what interest there was in it. It is astounding that anyone would reasonably expect some other organization to pick up such a severely damaged and battered product and invest in it. Even though it is a good OS, it has been so badly managed that the perception of it is poor.

WebOS has become a symbol of the bad HP management so publicly displayed over the past several years and is now a virtual soap opera. HP takes the gold medal in bad management and seems to stand alone as one of the worst run large companies in memory. WebOS is certainly not HP's biggest problem, but it is an open wound that never seems to heal. It is now a fascinating but sad thing to watch this once well run company destroy itself and its relationship with customers and stockholders (see current stock price).

I like my TouchPads and Pre3 very much and will run them into the ground before moving on, but I do not have any expectations that webOS or HP can get out of the hole that has been dug for them.

I would think the destination is "tax write-off".

I don't get the tax write-off angle! Tax write-offs are what is done after money has been lost on a venture, whereby at a 35% corporate tax rate you get back only 35 cents on every dollar that was lost. But in this case, HP continues to invest money in what seems to be a lost cause; i.e., throwing good money after bad. Every dollar they spend with little or no prospect for a return is just a waste of corporate assets which must not make stockholders feel very good. (I thankfully own no HP stock.)

HP has seen neighboring Apple go from an also ran company in technology to the most profitable company in the world based mostly on their mobile device strategy, whereby they control both the proprietary hardware and software for which they command good margins. (I own no Apple products or stock.) So what does HP do with their proprietary mobile software/hardware? They dump their products loudly and proudly such that they have no mobile device entries in the market (no, I am not overlooking the me too Slate tablets running Windows 8 which cannot command any special margins). Then, the HP board says "We need to increase our product margins". I say, "For doing what?".

No, the roadmap to wealth is not via tax write-offs and contributing open source software to the world for which there is no meaningful market in a fiercely competitive environment. Instead, they need to create innovative products with added value (not just selling someone elses product), and price and market them well. Then, stand behind the products through the initial ramp up period and beyond, and keep their customers happy by constantly inproving quality/features and giving exceptional support better than anyone else. That is the way it works.

That is a good recipe for success, but I fear that HP does not know how to cook anymore... nor read a map.

Well said. WebOS is dead to everyone except the small number of people with the skills to tinker with it. The average blockheads like me cannot do anything with it even if we wanted to. At this point it I really don't see what direction HP is going in nor would I trust them again especially with Nut Meg at the helm.

We get it Derek, HP paid for your flight and hotel. You don't have to put 'full disclosure' in -every- -single- article.

Maybe not, but if it's an error, it's an error on the side of responsible journalism. Journalists who take perks on the sly open themselves to suspicion that they are shills. He's just trying to avoid that suspicion.

Maybe with the money they used to pay for the flight and hotel HP could have had one of the webOS Open Source crew port Open webOS to our "legacy" hardware....haha!

The road to nowhere...

"Open webOS is a very odd software project that runs on nothing that exists or anything that you can buy."

I agree. So like the article mentions, what happens next?

glass half full.....

I feel something coming.....

flight and hotel had a reason behind it..... Derek will find out soon enough as will us all :-)

The division doesn't know what the board really has planned so their minor promotional activities are probably irrelevant compared to the whims of the morons running the company. And the timeline still ends next month. I don't see any reason why HP wouldn't wind down the project then, unless they think that the last place tablet-only OS behind Windows and BB has any hope of succeeding.

Even though Open WebOS appears to only be a tablet iteration for now, there's no reason it can't grow capabilities over time. Assuming I understand this:

1) It will be "free".
2) Manufacturers will be able to modify it.

Since several phone (and tablet?) manufacturers looked closely enough to consider buying it, and with the current issues concerning Android and Windows Phone, it's still conceivable that Nokia, Samsung, or someone else will spring a surprise on the industry. Development could be underway but remain a "company secret".

It would really be great if someone provides a new "dual-boot" device that has both Android and WebOS from the factory, or finds a way to run one on top of the other. Carriers might dislike the idea, though an "exclusive" and uniquely versatile device would certainly set them apart. I still believe in WebOS for phones with "gestures" and the "wave bar". Are these features still present but "deactivated" in Open WebOS or even WebOS 3.0.5?

so... how much longer are the backup servers going to run?

great question. Maybe the last guy out will just leave them on.

Until they are shut off, then webOS Internals picks up the slack.

I remember reading that Andreessen had some input when Meg took over. Anyone have access to him and able to get some thoughts?

We have good background on what happened Pre-HP, Veering thru HP and a Touch of after HP - now we need some insight from the people who are aiming the people you talked to last week...

"Make it matter " this third time around

Is it me or does this message, comming from them, sound like an alcoholic support group held weekly at a all-you-can drink open bar?

I got a Samsung Galaxy S III running ICS on AT&T for my Mom
great hardware that blows away the performance of my Veer, but I MUCH prefer using the Veer mainly for WebOs, though I'll admit a prejudice for small phones, particularly a well made slider
much to love about her new phone, but I find Android lacking the adroitness of WebOs, particularly as an OS for a smartphone
I am impressed with S-Voice, which though far from perfect, gets a great deal of help from all that processor power packed into the S-III
with WebOs now Open Source I am lusting for a way to get it running on other platforms
the Nokia 808 presently has Symbian only, but I am praying that Nokia takes on WebOs & maybe puts out a quad core version of the 808
HP can make great smartphones and and MUST if it is to recover from the ill management of the past few years
how about a small slider with a great camera (don't need > 8 MP but must have AF & macro ability)
I'd consider a second mortgage to get that one ;)

I'm pretty sure the knife HP has been grinding in my back with webOS news has finally come all the way through.

Like it or not, some of us don't read this site very day so articles have to be written with us in-mind, too. Also, as someone else said, it's about time people erred on this side, of anything.

Off topic: Being here and typing thison a tablet makes me kinda wish it were a Touchpad. That ship has sailed. We hung on for as long as we could, but finally switched from our rage-inducing original Sprint Palm Pre's.

But it's still a sore spot with me, since I didn't WANT to make this move. I wanted webOS on a new phone and tablet.

Now, most of the time anyway, I don't give a damn about cards. But I SHOULD and WOULD if not for HP epic bungling. *sigh*

Ok. I feel better now. Thanks.