One year ago, HP cancelled webOS hardware and everything changed | webOS Nation
 
 

One year ago, HP cancelled webOS hardware and everything changed 41

by Derek Kessler Sat, 18 Aug 2012 6:51 am EDT

One year ago, HP cancelled webOS hardware and everything changed

August 17, 2011 was a weird day. The day prior the HP Pre3 became available in the UK with nary an announcement to herald its arrival. The 17th saw the surprise release of the white 64GB TouchPad in France, again with no announcement, not even a press release. If was a confusing day, but a pretty good one once HP figured out what was going on in Europe.

The next day was devastating for the webOS community: HP CEO Leo Apotheker announced plans to explore splitting HP into two companies, one focused on enterprise services and the other on less-profitable consumer hardware, and that just 49 days after the HP TouchPad had launched the entire webOS product line was being cancelled.

Unsurprisingly, the webOS community took the news poorly. Our favorite mobile operating system, one that had been purchased by HP as part of Palm by just over a year prior, was in effect snuffed out with a press release by the company that was supposed to save webOS from oblivion, the company that was supposed to enhance webOS and spread it across a multitude of platforms. We raged, we vented, and a year later that day is still referred to as the Leopocalypse.

The move was a punch in the gut to not just the webOS community, but the mobile community at large. While Android and iOS kept chugging along, the fact that a deep-pocketed technology behemoth like HP was unable or unwilling to put up with the costs of developing and maintaining its own mobile operating system and hardware sent chills through the community. If HP couldn't do it, what chance did any other upstart operating system have?

We knew at the time that HP's decision to kill webOS hardware was incredibly shortsighted and driven by risk-averse corporate leadership. It was, to put it bluntly, one of the greatest blunders in the short history of mobile technology. HP squandered an opportunity to secure the future of their business, and now, even under the leadership of new CEO Meg Whitman, HP continues to pay the price on both the stock market and in retail for the disastrous leadership of Apotheker.

As for webOS, it took another four months for a plan to be announced. After exploring the possibility of selling the assets of webOS for upwards of a billion dollars, HP found nobody willing to buy at their desired price, and opted instead to open source the operating system. It's taken several months to get to this point, with the first beta of the refreshed Open webOS due out later this month.

A year after webOS took a bullet to the head at the hands of Apotheker, the operating system is still facing a murky future. Open webOS will be fully open source and available to all to install, but at this point it's unknown what devices will be able to run the OS and its advanced Linux kernel. It's unknown what HP intends to do with the spin-off of the webOS Global Business Unit as a new cloud- and user experience-focused company named Gram. And it's unknown if HP, or anybody else, will ever take a gamble at making new webOS devices.

A year later, the webOS community is likewise still damaged and confused. We've all seen it on the webOS Nation forums and across the web and social networks - people are leaving webOS and talking about it less and less every day. Only a dedicated corps of users are the type willing to buy a device with the sole intent of installing an unsupported operating system on it, and that's not a big enough group to sustain webOS as a legitimate contender in the mobile space. Developers likewise have moved away from webOS, with fewer new apps joining the App Catalog and existing apps being left to languish on the vine.

It's been one hell of a year for webOS and we're leaving this year with more questions than we entered. We don't know what's coming up, and with the way things have been so far we're hesitant to even hazard a guess. The one thing we can be sure of is that the webOS community will still endure. We hear it all the time from those that have moved on to other devices - they still miss webOS and wish they could install it on their iPhone or Galaxy or Lumia device. webOS continues to be a unique gem in the mobile operating space. It's still forward-thinking in many ways and still has, in our not that humble opinion, the best multitasking and notifications interfaces on the market, 1317 days after it was first revealed with the Palm Pre and 365 days after the entire webOS world was turned upside down.

41 Comments

Amen.

This article just reminded me of a video that was made on this topic:
A world without webOS

Amazon

This better be the last depressing, negative rant from you, Derek!!
It's about time you starting looking at the glass half full and highlighting the good things about WebOS and what it can offer to any mobile user compared to the competition.
We know WebOS' tumultuous history all too well at this point and there is no need to revisit it in every article. Cynicism isn't going to get people to consider WebOS as an alternative to other platforms. I'm going to need you to leave the baggage behind and move forward with optimism. Help WebOS!! After all, you do have a site devoted to it's SURVIVAL!!

Well Derek does need to be aware of the reality of things, & does need to show he is aware. Otherwise he will appear to some as either weak-minded or uninformed or imbibing in too many hallucinagenic mushrooms (how do you spell that word? Hand me another one of those cosmic brownies while I think about that).

So don't give Derek a hard time. He wouldn't be here if he didn't believe that webOS has merit, has something important to preserve. But you might want to talk to him about his over-indulgence issues with rainbow mushrooms.

Elemante,

Did you just pull your head out of the sand to type this? Have you not witnessed the last year and a half?

I love Webos as a phone operating system, but as much as I love it, it doesn't mean that there is another phone on the horizon. Call me cynical, but it's actually just realism.

Tablets may be another story, but I could care less about them. I'm going to need a new phone. Tablets would be a toy for me.

At this point, and barring announcements, the best hope is probably that Blackberry 10 rips off as much of webOS as possible, and its browser works perfectly with Enyo.

It's really disappointing that the new Motorola Photon has the keyboard along the long side, and is thus too wide for convenient thumb typing if you are cursed with small hands.

Amen, I believe we need to be positive, and I think all this stuff with gram could change things around.

I would like more input (more than the article at the time) on what yesterday's announcement on the mobility table could mean. It sounded to me like HP saying that they are going to make consumer tablets again.

Since HP said that they weren't going to make the Windows RT tablets and the Slate 8 (Windows Pro tablet) is going to be with the computing departing, that only seems to leave Android and webOS tablets left for the mobility department to work with.

There was a previous article here about the agreement that HP had to not compete with Microsoft which required the webOS division to be kept separate. It seems like that's what HP is doing with Gram... making it a little like PalmSource in days of yore.

I'm trying not to get too optimistic, but at the same time, this seems to be moving in SOME direction, which is better than where HP was when they basically said, "That mobile thing is a fad and we are just going to do computers, printers, servers, and enterprise services."

Ah, hope springs eternal.

Sent from my still slightly awesome TouchPad.

Well, if there was no hope, there's really no reason to even read this website.

I see you Elemante is in the denial phase. I've been there, been angry, bargaining phase (I tried android and ios), now I'm in depression mode and then there will be a long road to acceptance if anything else out there can replace my pre3. Derek is getting us through these phases. I say Thanks.

Agreed. I really miss webOS. It's obviously not as cutting edge anymore because of all this.

I really miss the community and getting to interact with them. Hope all of you are doing well. Much luv! :-D

Don't panic, in an interview with Bloomsberg yesterday, Meg said that if conditions were right, the company *might* consider releasing a WebOS printer, maybe.

Oh and she really hoped that Smartphones OEMs would use webOS.

Is there a link to that video ? :) I'd really like to see it :)

Meg is sweet; always likes to give a bit of hope to the desperate, as long as no real money involved.

Sometimes, in the interest of kindness, or not poking at a sore spot, the best choice of a response, is not to respond. I'm not saying that this is such a time...but it might be.

"and a year later that day is still referred to as the Leopocalypse."

I've always referred to it as "Black Thursday".

After my Pre I got an iPhone n after a yr of use I can't seem to love it like webOS. I would drop iPhone if they give me a webOS phone any day.
Good story, almost made me cry ;(

I'm with you. After working all week with my iPhone4S, I reach for my pre3 on the weekend

I on the other hand have no regrets and often times wonder why I stuck with a Pre that long.

I think the trail of activity leads to a plan for webOS. HP will need some partners to make it happen and that is a wait and see game. I am just glad to see something happening. The quiet is often the hardest.

Thanks for the great site - keep up the good work!

I think you are probably right, something is brewing. I'm not sure what, or whether we'll all like it, but something is up. First they spin webOS off into a new company, then they create a new mobility division specifically to bring consumer tablets to market and also announce the Win8 tablet they already have will be staying with the PSG so the mobility division will clearly be doing something else. I think somehow webOS will be involved, but probably not in the same form as it exists now.

I was so pumped about getting a Pre3...so close. Sigh...

I'm typing this on mine; it's still a great phone! Just not as many apps.

I totally agree! I got mine a couple months ago and its holding up way better than any of my past Pres. WebOS 2.2.4 still needs more work though, you can tell it was far from finished. I would still recommend this phone to any webOS fan, until we can get Open webOS on a newer better spec phone! But I will miss the physical keyboard.

The Pre3 is a great phone if you are not worried about apps. I use an iP4 for work and the Pre3 as my personal driver. I really miss the qwerty and the UI when going back to iOS plus the Pre works better as a ....phone.

just got me a pre3, because
many touch sensors on my pre
died. Wish me luck.

I remember. I went hunting for a TouchPad when it was discounted, but came up empty handed.

Plenty on ebay

I have used nothing but HP ever since i started with computers 4desktops,3 laptops,0ne netbook many hp printers but since this with the touchpad unless they change there stance'
Hp can go to hell i will what i have til i cant anymore then for the 1st time ever buy from someone else

I don't mean to be dramatic but I don't believe I've missed anything more than I do WebOS. I've now had an iPhone for about a year and still think it's a piece of [junk]. The WebOS features and functionality combined with the hardware integration was something Jobs had to have been jealous of. They did it better than he did. And the keyboard was a lot more powerful than typing on a screen with thumbs.

HP, I don't beg and I'm begging you to bring back the product.

So the wife and I just got new phones yesterday... Sprint 2 for 1 Galaxy S2's, with me "up"-grading from my original Pre-... Almost sad since the poor thing was still doing pretty good.
I'm not sure how I feel about the S2; but the wife likes it, and I have no plans to ever become an "early adopter" of a new OS again. Once with the Sprint Pre and my day 1 TouchPad purchase @ Best Buy was more than enough.
I'm almost relieved, knowing that, whoever jacks me around with my phones OS, or gives me crappy customer service, or choose to introduce elementary hardware design flaws, I'll know that the poor public veneer serves to reflect the mediocre product underneath; rather than hiding some super-genius, high potential, but poorly leveraged and ultimately abandoned eco-system.
I'd like to keep the touchpad going for awhile, but I will not be surprised if the infrastructure that houses my profile, and supports the apps that I have purchased, either wants cash from me (monthly) or is summarily junked without replacement. A sad end to something that could have been.

6 weeks with my S III and I STILL wish I could be using WebOS. I've moved out of a VZW 3G service area so I'm kinda stuck with the GSIII for now. Android 4.0 doesn't compare to the ease and joy of WebOS. IF someone ever puts WebOS on device I'll come running.

It's funny, my wife and I we're just commenting on this yesterday. As avid Palm users since the m100, and her having worked at HP at one point wayyy back when, it was particularly galling to watch the fall of Palm and webOS.

It's even more aggravating seeing people talk about features as new that Palm was doing 3 years ago!

We own an iPad2, an iTouch, a Nano, 3 TouchPads, and 2 Pre3s, plus earlier generation models of a few other Palm products. 2 of the TPs have ICS as a dual boot option. It's frustrating, because iOS and Android have the apps (especially for kids with special needs), and iOS is so responsive...but after extensive use of all the interfaces, the webOS interface just feels more natural. We also tend to type faster on a physical keyboard than a virtual one. And I love having a separate number row and keys that change capitalization (which baffles me as to why the iOS interface doesn't do that). And there are apps that Android and iOS still don't offer or don't have the same features...Woodenigma, the Comics reader and most especially Glimpse with Advanced Browser. Man, I love Glimpse...

Wow. 1 year, eh? I knew I had been out 'in the desert' for quite some time, but, I didn't do the math.

Well, it's been one month with Android (One X) and I think I can boil what I miss the most about WebOS into two categories

-Ease of interface: WebOS just 'worked' (most of the time!) ... from the gestures to the keyboard to the unified design.

-The Community: Homebrew + having a great P|C forums / community to reach out to. Having signed-up for the AndroidCentral sister-site, everything always feels so fragmented (instead of finding out how *Android* does something, I need to find out how my specific device does it).

Do I miss WebOS ... yes. Do I miss it as much as I thought I would? No

Here's hoping the next 365 brings good news to this community.

As I type this on my galaxy s2, thinking (I cannot wait to see webos on this phone and how much I hate Leo) my pre,1 and 2 sit silently in the box I bought them in like little coffins. My touchpad however sits deviantly on my kitchen counter ready and able to work. WebOS is capable of such great things, just keep the faith.
Long live webOS!

been using Android on my S III which was gotten for my Mom
she needs the larger screen, but even now after over a month's use, I find it painful to use & take my Veer with me when I leave the house
for the Touchstone alone, I think I prefer the Veer
HP dropped the ball big time
cellphones are at the CENTER of any mobility platforms
tablets & 'puters need to connect with phones
WebOs is clearly the best software presently available for cellphones
get it on a slab ASAP
I will keep my VEER, which I love (magnetic connectors are totally cool) but would consider trading in the S III should a slab come available with similar specs running WebOs
Nokia hopefully isn't totally committed to MS
I wants an 808 running WebOs instead of Symbian

Its so sad to read these articles. Its even worse knowing that webOS did things that the iPhone is just now trying to catch up on and not even doing a good job. The synergy feature and the ability to interact with your phone from a tablet was genius. I hate launching apps to chat on different mediums.

I left webOS behind last November when my work got me an iPhone and I had the option of getting 250 from best buy from my veer. It turned out to be a good move because as soon as HP pulled the plug the veer prices went way down.

the iPhone is cool, windows mobile phones were cool. Nothing in this world ever excited me, frustrated me, pleased me and just had me totally locked in though like webOS.

I was so close to buying the Pre 3 before this. I was calling reps daily, hitting other sites. I wanted it so bad. It never came.

I might not post again for a few months but I'll keep stopping back on the regular to check this site.

IF they would just make a device that i could run webOS on I'd still be on it now.

Long live the king!

Amazing:
A year after webOS took a bullet to the head at the hands of Apotheker, the operating system is still facing a murky future

webOS is not facing a murky future, it has no future.

My trusty Sprint Pre broke this past weekend. Wife pulled out the car charger & the usb port went with it...={ still had insurance on it... $100 deductible & "Assurion" Sprint's new insurance partner would replace it with a refurb'd Pre... sigh... you can still buy brand new ones via wholesalers for under $70, lowest I found was $54
I thought about Frankenpre 2... Pre 3 would be nice, but no love @Sprint. Franfied would be cool, but I began to think hard about where it all stands now... what happens when HP nixes the backup servers? I hate to poo poo on the flowers, but HP hasnt made anything clear, Google's hit on the browser, & questions about GRAM make me nervous... so I bought a GSIII... Im impressed with the hardware, but not so much about its user friendliness... I am also nervous about this text email crap, yeah, its a "trial period" think & kinda cool, but it could be a bad thing, plus private conversations are being translated thus being avail on the www for tech savy folks.. All said, i really miss my Pre & WebOS... GSIII has some cool things & amazing app lists, but it too has glitches. .. All Said, the Sprint Pre. Is still versatile