Not with a bang but a whimper | webOS Nation
 
 

Not with a bang but a whimper 48

by Derek Kessler Mon, 25 Feb 2013 9:58 am EST

Not with a bang but a whimper

This morning it was revealed that HP is selling its webOS assets to LG - including the source code, personnel, and patents - and that LG intends to utilize those assets to deliver a webOS-powered smart TV in early 2014. LG has no ambitions or intentions to bring webOS to their mobile space as they're perfectly happy with all of the work they've put into Android over the past few years. To be frank, we would have been more than pleasantly surprised to see anybody take up the mantle of mobile webOS development.

And so, the final chapter of mobile webOS began to draw to a close. There's always the work that the fine folks at WebOS Ports are doing bringing Open webOS to devices like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Asus Nexus 7, but as we've been saying since the full release of Open webOS 1.0 back in September, the open source release is missing a lot in the way of deep features. While Open webOS Professional Edition was supposed to fix that, at this point the only point we can expect to see Professional Edition is in January 2014 when it's running in some form on an LG television at CES.

The team at Palm and HP needed hundreds more working to bring webOS up-to-snuff feature-for-feature with the competition. It's simply wishful thinking to expect that WebOS Ports of any other webOS homebrew project will be able to produce a fully workable port of Open webOS that any sane person would be willing to use as their primary smartphone or tablet.

Moreso than HP abandoning webOS for Android, this purchase of all webOS assets by LG represents a significant turning point for this webOS community. Palm and webOS have changed hands so many times it's boggling to think about - in just the past four years, Palm saw a major cash infusion from Elevation Partners, launched a new mobile platform, got bought by HP, launched their first tablet, saw that tablet get brutally canceled, was split in two, shopped around, open sourced, and now sold to Korean electronics giant LG.

With LG offering no relief to those craving new webOS hardware, it's time to consider more seriously that this may very well be the end for webOS as we know it. There's no guarantee that webOS on LG TVs will have multitasking cards or rich notifications or universal search or Synergy data unification or any of the much-lauded features that made webOS the operating system that we can't help but adore. We've been suckers for webOS for over four years now, and that's not about to change. No matter what happens in the coming years, webOS will always occupy a significant portion of our gadget nostalgia.

HP TouchPad

There's still the question of what's going to happen to all of us and our current webOS devices. For one, it's not going to just stop working today or tomorrow or whenever LG takes over the Sunnyvale offices from HP. LG has committed to continuing support for HP webOS devices, though one does have to wonder how long they'll be willing to provide support for products they didn't sell. The last webOS hardware sales were part of the TouchPad fire sale following that abrupt cancellation took place in December 2011, the minimum we'd expect LG to offer support for HP webOS devices is two years, so by the end of this year we wouldn't be surprised to see LG shutting that down and moving on their their then-soon-to-be-unveiled smart TV. But we would be pleased to see LG continue to support webOS owners part December 2013.

Now, you might be asking yourself, why isn't LG just taking the open source version of Open webOS and making it their own? For one, as noted earlier in this editorial, there's a lot that was part of webOS that didn't make it into Open webOS 1.0, mostly thanks to the fact that distributing somebody else's proprietary code into open source tends not to go over well. In addition to snapping up the source code for webOS and all that it entails, LG's also picked up the talented people that are still at the webOS Global Business Unit/Gram and will have them working over the next year on bringing webOS to their television line-up in time for CES 2014. We don't doubt that LG looked at using the open source version of Open webOS or licensing Open webOS Professional Edition from HP, but in the end they realized the need for control as well as the costs they would have to incur over the long-haul in building out webOS. By purchasing webOS, the patents, and the people, LG is gaining a significant base to build off of for their smart TV endeavours.

As far as those patents are concerned, LG also just purchased a significant defensive - or offensive - position in the ongoing patent war that has consumed the mobile space. Palm was a pioneering force in smartphones and held many foundational mobile and smartphone patents that were significant enough to hold off potential courtroom challengers. LG too has been in the mobile space for some time, though their serious entry into smartphones came later than Palm's. LG hasn't been as consumed by others in the mobile industry by patent lawsuits, though they've had their fair share of courtroom appearances. Owning the significant Palm and webOS patent portfolio will serve to bolster LG's case should they be forced to or opt to use them.

Our sources indicated that LG's been interested in webOS for some time. They were one of the parties that considered purchasing purchasing webOS when HP was trying to sell it, though it seems that they and everybody else may have balked at the price tag and conditions HP tried to put on the sale. LG's been working with HP since at least March of 2012, and while we haven't been able to confirm a price for the sale of webOS to LG, it stands to reason that it is a much lower cost than the $1.2 billion HP paid for Palm and wanted to get out of it. The final price isn't likely to put much of a dent in the $3.3 billion loss that HP reported after shutting down webOS hardware operations.

Open webOS on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Apart from the question of how long LG will continue to support webOS device owners, there's also reason to wonder about the state of the open source projects that have been part of the webOS GBU/Gram, including Open webOS and Enyo. Once something hits open source there's no taking it back, so we can at least take comfort in the fact that Open webOS and Enyo aren't going to vanish off the face of the internet. But what about continued development and contributions to the code? That's hard to say.

HP's obviously made a significant commitment to open source, but there's no telling how or if LG will follow through on that. As a member of the Android Open Handset Alliance, LG does have certain obligations to open source with their Android developments, and they've done a decent job of keeping up with that obligation and releasing to open source what they're supposed to release to open source. The thriving custom Android ROMs community for LG devices is all the indication you need to know that LG's mobile division takes their Android open source commitments seriously.

But Open webOS could be different. After all, there's no Open Handset Alliance for webOS and this is the TV division we're talking about - television is an expensive and competitive business and LG doesn't really have much incentive to continue open source development and contributions of Open webOS or Enyo. The only reason HP opted to go the open source route with webOS was they knew they might eventually be able to get some money out of it, either through licensing Open webOS Professional Edition and its services or through a sale like this. Up to that point, while there might have been reasons to open source webOS, they weren't compelling enough to justify offering the source code of a proprietary creation like webOS freely and without condition to competitors and the world-at-large.

There's also the question of webOS developers. The team working on Enyo has made commendable progress and has been striving hard to bring the application framework to even more platforms and make clear the separation between Enyo and webOS. While they share a mother and grew up together, Enyo's been stepping out to see other people, if you will. With Enyo divorced in body but not necessarily mind from webOS, it too will be able to live on in open source.

But convincing developers that they need to use it will be that much harder when one has to wonder how committed LG will be to updating the open source release. Enyo's seen frequent updates over the past year as version 2.x was committed to open source and improved. But what about any improvements that LG makes in the course of shoehorning webOS onto their television motherboards? It's quite hard to say - we can't even tell you if LG intends to use Enyo in their television app development, or if they're just going to go for a straight C- and C++-coded apps experience.

Enyo

While webOS on an LG TV may or may not end up looking like the webOS we've come to know and love, there's nothing saying that the people currently working as part of the webOS GBU/Gram won't be able to continue open source development on their own time. But like anybody else with a full-time job, it'd be more hobby and passion than life's work. What they do proprietarily for LG obviously won't be allowed to be added to open source on their own time, lest they lose their jobs in the process.

Of course, that's not going to stop the folks at WebOS Ports from continuing their development. While HP's been more than willing to offer their assistance whenever the Ports team needed it, we have no indication of how amiable LG will be towards the homebrew group. Our sincere hope is that they will allow the tradition of homebrew cooperation and accommodation to continue, but there's no promises that will happen.

There are a lot of things to think about with LG buying webOS, and chief among them in our eyes is this community. When we launched PreCentral back in the salad days of early 2009, we were headstrong and full of hope. The Palm Pre was the most amazing thing since zippered bread and this community exploded. Thanks to a solid base built up from eight preceding years of VisorCentral and TreoCentral, we amassed more than 500,000 registered forum members.

For obvious reasons, things have been  significantly lower recently and activity has died down as people understandably moved on to other platforms. After more than thirteen years of continuous operation, we are now looking at what could very well be the end of this community. So long as the traffic justifies the investment, webOS Nation will continue to persist and exist, but we do have to acknowledge that we know this road eventually ends. How far we have to go until the pavement gives way to the sands of the lost OS desert, or webOS Nation evolves into something new and continues the legacy of VisorCentral, TreoCentral, and PreCentral, we honestly can't say, because we don't know. Right now is a sort of play-it-by-ear period for us, the last remaining major webOS blog and community.

So hold on, hang tight, and keep on with the multitasking. LG's coming to town, and we really don't know what they're bringing.

webOS Nation

48 Comments

Hmm. Maybe it's finally time I box up my webOS devices and put them in storage...

Nah. Your work and all that you've done is too valuable to the community still, my friend. Keep on keepin' on.

I, too, will be here 'til the end to hit the lights and lock up if need be.

Long live us Walking webOS Dead.

WebOS ain't dead. It's just been reborn as Firefox OS. What webOS was was an idea: That open standards could the basis for an operating system. And now, with Firefox OS out there, it will be even more open than ever. Sure the gesture area and cards were ideas years ahead of their time (and still unmatched), but the former was already dead on the Touchpad and the latter always resulted in a laggy, frustrating experience in real life. I would bet that a lot of the work put in by the Internals group will be transferable thanks to HTML5.

Let's hope Mozilla can do it right.

(PS this blog should start covering FFOS now that webOS is well and truly dead.)

Well all my Palms (Centros, TX, Palm III, IR Keyboard) are boxed up in storage. My TouchPad is still working and I hardly ever boot it into Android - even though I have an Android phone and a Google Chromebook. I still believe a 32g TouchPad at around $200 is about the best value for a 10' tablet that is out there today, especially since you can put CM9 or CM10 on it.

Oh well, this I know - 100 years form now there will not be Microsoft, Apple, Google and even USA as we know it. Web OS demise just happened a whole lot earlier than those of us who loved the operating system. I'll continue enjoying my TouchPad (as will my wife, mother and son-in-law) and I'm sure it is going to continue to provide me some years of use in Web OS or in a CM version.

its no worse news than the original apotheclypse, the sticky stuff hit the fan back then, no different to now tbh.

my devices still work and hopefully will for some time now i have a few spares at hand.

same here: I stocked up when devices were available ... while I only own one TouchPad - which is merely a Glimpse Device - I use and love my Pre3, I have a spare Pre3 waiting to jump in, if that should become necessary, I also have two Veers waiting for reactivation when the second Pre3 will be end of life ... if only I could use Pre3 and Veer in parallel (like it is possible with webOS 3.x) I would be the happiest guy on the planet. :)
I recently tried out a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 - and after being highly disappointed with the usability of Android, simply sent it back.
Let's keep the spirit up - webOS is *not* dead - I use it daily, that's why I can tell it from my own experience ... ;)

Honestly, webOS lost it's chance early on, far before the Apotheclypse.

To compete webOS needed to match up with the combination of hardware and software. Honestly software wise, it was a wash. webOS had the best design paradigm (IMO) by far, but on the other side of the software side, it was buggy, less responsive, slow, not as smooth, didn't have 3rd party support, and the apps were limited in what they could do. So you could actually argue that webOS was behind on the software side.

So it's up to the hardware side. And you know how bad it was. :-/ Basically if they kept up with hardware technology, the Pre2 would've been a Pre3 with a slower chip. The Veer wouldn't have existed and the Pre3 would've been the Pre3 with double the RAM, a dual core CPU, and probably a decent quality camera. As in, after the Pre, webOS was always like a generation behind.

If they kept up (didn't try to beat but just kept up) with the Joneses and did a good job on advertising, they could've stayed in the race (last but still in the race), but they let themselves get lapped badly early on making it almost impossible to catch up. Of course you could argue that Palm had no money to keep up in the first place though.

Today I just unboxed my new LG Nexus 4
I purchased a pre minus at launch and upgraded to a pre 3 I been using webos ever since
before that it was a centro and several treos
Its ironic today just happens to be the day my nexus arrives as I use my first non palm/webos device the manufacturer that I decide to switch to happens to buy palm/webos
As I place my pre 3 back in its box and hang up my webos hat it decides to let me know that it knows that even though my new device i will always be thinking of it

I'll be here until the last day.

Well that was pretty sobering.

Need Phoenix to get webOS to run as an app on Android. Thinking about getting StyleTap on Android to run my old Palm programs. Lenovo should have bought the GRAM/webOS group.

I have StyleTap running on my Android phone. It works great. Quite expensive ($50 when I bought it). FYI - just in case you don't know - it runs apps that do not need to sync with your desktop. If there are apps that you want to have that don't sync - it's great and works like a charm and brings up a Treo look on your phone. I'll come back with a pic off my phone after I put down my TouchPad and typing on my HP TouchPad Bluetooth keyboard...

Can't thank you enough for all your work and commitment to the community, Derek. From podcasts wit Dieter to the current chaos I will miss this site and its fans. You hung in there with us and thanks so much for your dedication. Glad to see webOS live on in some form.

While a part of me is sad this could be the end of webOS nation, I really look forward to seeing Derek writing and podcasting again on one of the other mobile nations websites.

I will be here to the last post! Hopefully, LG will create there TV and then began to grow out the WebOS line to tablets that interact with the TV. Then eventually they may create phones. Of course, that is my wishful thinking.

Sure the news is grim. But the biggest and most important fact that I can't stress enough is that IMO, escaping HP's clutches is the best course. Innovation left HP long before they bought Palm and webOS.

Glad to hear the personnel will be retained! I'm excited to see what happens when the dust settles at the new LG offices in NoCal. I'd take a webOS TV with an app to run it on my firesale Touch\pPad and Pre3.

HP, please let the door hit ya on the way out.

Cheers to LG and our community!

Does LG make any TVs in the 4 to 6 inch range? I think this is a huge win for webOS. If it looks good and works well on 46 inches it should also work well on 4 or 6 inches. Your move LG.

Television + Smartphone = CES 2014

Funny you used LG old(names) and just created the user name:)

LAMO - Thanks! I will cling to my Pre2 and Touchpad until LG/HP/Verizon unplugs me from the cloud.

for the most part, people (including derek) are too glum about this development. at least webos is owned by a company with some direction now. there is no telling what the future may bring for webos...

Still got a functioning Pre 2 but not sure how long it will last, then, sadly, I'm gone.....

"Turn off the lights, the party's over.."

Can someone post link to article of how to save info in case of server shutdown?

WebOS, we barely knew ye... it was fun while it lasted, you'll always have a special place in my list of favorite operating systems!

It's been around since 2009.

This site must get a bunch of hits per month for Mobile Nations to keep it alive. I wonder how much longer before this zombie site closes.

"...it's time to consider more seriously that this may very well be the end for webOS as we know it."

Actually, it's been over since August, 2011.

Almost two years have passed with little to no resources devoted to OS and ecosystem development. That's already killed webOS.

Look at how much money Blackberry and Microsoft are devoting to their ecosystems and operating systems just to battle for a distant third and fourth place to Android and iOS.

It's too late for webOS to ever catch up and that makes me extremely sad as a former Pre owner.

I sadly have to agree. By some miracle I sold my TP and Pre2 last night, and I posted them today after reading this article with a palpable sense of relief.

There's no way LG will try and port webOS to tablets or smartphones, imagine the resources that would take, it would be insane.

I also can't see a single reason why they would continue to run and pay for servers hosting Palm Profiles for users that HP made the money off, why would they? Good will? Towards whom? There's no-one left to keep on side.

It's over, the dream is dead. Such a shame, no matter what I use going forward it will never replace webOS as my favourite mobile OS, but replace it it must.

Been a blast folks, as McGoohan would have said:

"Be seeing you..."

You never know, LG may well change strategy and realise WebOS in an LG smartphone would be all THEIRS and worthwhile. I mean it wont be a case of "I prefer Samsung to LG", it'll be "mmmm LG WebOS or LG Android or LG Windows?"

Can't expect the company that made the latest Nexus phones to put webOS on their mobile devices. On the other hand, they may take the strategy of that other Korean electronics manufacturer, Samsung. Samsung is firmly established with Android, with the SGS3 selling like hotcakes. But, Samsuns is still developing Tizen as an alternative. LG now has the option of developing webOS as an alternative. However, Tizen is not being pushed at all as a consumer product by Samsung (stateside, at least), so it would definitely be wishful thinking to expect LG to push webOS as a mobile platform any time soon.
 
Oh well, end of an era for sure.

so does this mean "goodbye to usless stories about HP, welcome usless stories about LG" on webOSnation?

This is a great move for LG. Every major tablet/phone/TV/glasses producer needs its own operating system. Otherwise they just are just in "cheapest manufacter of hardware wins"-game. Look how much money Apple makes from products with better usability. Devices with screen will be here for decades to come, and can you imagine LG taking this step in 5 years -- then it is even more expensive than today. I cannot agree with the whining mood here today.

Interesting article. But to be honest it is business as usual, HP were doing hee haw with webOS so were no worse off than we were last week or last month etc.

Speculation will be rife what LG are going to do but until there is solid information, its just that, speculation. I for one am not selling my Pre 3 :-)

:(

Um... So...... anyone hear anything yet on how this will impact the App Catalog and Synergy servers? Gulp.....

From The Verge:

but HP will retain the entire cloud services division — that's the App Catalog, updating system, and other backend services that interact with webOS

every time a tsunami hits this site I look at my webOS devices and say hmmm...still working fine

in fact I've been on Ebay looking for the right pre3

I'm here till the end and Beyond

sad day but will continue to use my Touchpads and pre 2/3s until they fail,
hope webOS nations keeps going for a while, and thanks for a great site,
webOS/ Meego / Symbian all abandoned by makers for Android/windows phone,
the future looks black.

No big deal, my Veer performs brilliantly as it is supposed to - it's a Phone!
And just installed Mojowhatsapp - have all I desire!

My Touch pad is great, I use it to browse, while simultaneously listening to Youtube music vids, reading Kindle, watching Movies - and of course emails and SMS sync'd with my Veer (and before that my Pre 3) - I don't need nor want anything else from a tablet or Phone, and it performs much better than my Missus iPad 3 (that is unable to multitask properly, quickly and efficiently). And no ther phone with a physical keyboard comes close to my cute Veer.

So until they break, or I get bored, I don't require anything else.

Now LG, come on, you'll need gadgets to be COMPATIBLE with your TV's, and gadgets that will let the "user Experience" of your TV's be 'Mobile". That's a logical step and I see it happening!

I wish you all luck. This is by far the best WebOS Community. Hopefully LG does WebOS good, and those folks keep their jobs. Hopefully you can keep this site up. :D

Time to hit ebay to purchase me some weos devices. :)

My pre3 died been using a galaxy s3 not bad but not the same still use my touchpad daily and have a backup touchpad still in the box its a sad day but I will always love my webOS!! Thanks guys for being the best community out there!!!

I love my TouchPad and my Prē Plus, and I will never leave it. I still buy accessories for my webOS devices. And I store all my device boxes to store the devices when HP will have shut down the webOS servers.

I don't want Android, Windows or iOS. Even Blackberry is not an alternative, I'll miss the EMail-Application, the Touchstone and of course the webOS multitasking. And the Prē series are still the best smartphones with a physical keyboard. So why change?

The only reason I have this site in my RSS feed still is to see when Firefox OS or Ubuntu's mobile OS is ported to the TouchPad.

i love my sgn2 and android , but web os will always have the number one spot wish i was a very rich person if i was i would invest on web os cause i know it has a lot of potential but the people behind screw really big and by that i mean hp specially .

Well: I'm still holding tight. I'm a long term user since the Treo's then the Palm pre, plus and pre 2. I also own a HP touchpad. These devices ars still working fine and I'll keep them until could not fine a replacement. I did try IOS and the Droid, I did set up these devices for some users, but I will not use them for me or my wife. Everything is not about marketing or HP incompetence.

HI, new to webos. Just purchased an HP Veer (my first smart phone) Love it! But am now finding out about the plight of webos, and all of it's limitations. I have been reading the forums endlessly, and have slowly been finding work-arounds for various bugs. Has anyone ever found a way to view photos on Facebook? All of the information out there seems to be from before FB made their secure browsing un-editable.
Somewhere I read that a guy said that he converted his webos device to an android device.
Is that possible?, and where can I find out how to do it? If webos does eventually end I would like to have some option to continue using my wonderful little Veer. Thanks.

If converted to Android, will the FB photo issue be fixed?