Some last minute thoughts... | webOS Nation
 
 

Some last minute thoughts... 65

by Derek Kessler Tue, 08 Nov 2011 6:13 pm EST

We're quickly approaching the moment of truth, the all-hands meeting scheduled for later today at Palm HQ in Sunnyvale, California. We'll be entirely honest: we don't know what to expect. One minute we've got a pit in our stomach, and the other we're jumpy and excited about the possibilities. Our compass is pointing every which way, and we're not sure it's the Touchstone's fault this time.

The last all-hands meeting we saw out of the webOS Global Business Unit was right after the August announcement that HP was cancelling webOS hardware development. Things haven’t gotten any better since then for webOS, though they’ve kept pushing out updates and new apps and doing whatever they could. That all-hands was an emergency meeting called after the news hit, with the VPs in charge of webOS unaware of what was happening. This one was called in advance, and what’s notable is who has been brought in to the meeting: former Palm CEO and webOS GBU Manager, Jon Rubinstein and HP CEO Meg Whitman.

We haven’t heard anything from Rubinstein since he was shuffled out of the webOS leadership back in July, just days after the HP TouchPad launched. Now, Rubinstein did say he would still be involved in webOS, but since he left we’ve seen the hardware cancelled, the business split in two, the hardware group laid off, and the OS put up for sale or worse. Bringing Rubinstein back into the equation is an interesting move – is he taking back control of webOS? DeWitt was left in charge of the now defunct hardware group, and we really don’t know what he’s doing anymore. Or is Rubinstein going to be on the stage to provide a familiar face while bad news is broken? We’re not sure, but it’s worth noting that he is on Amazon board of directors, and the rumors of Amazon buying webOS were both the loudest and most encouraging. We’re not saying that’s what’s going to happen (like we said, we know nothing), but it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad way to go.

Then there’s Meg Whitman. We’ve never seen an HP CEO take the stage at a webOS event. Mark Hurd didn’t get to stay around long enough to see webOS to do anything under HP, Leo Apotheker didn’t make the trip all the way to San Francisco from Palo Alto for the Think Beyond event, and Whitman, well, she took over HP after webOS was sent on its latest death spiral. But unless the entire company is going down, it’s rare to see the CEO of a company as big as HP come out to address a group of 500 within the company about their maybe-not-even-worth-a-billion-bucks part of the business. Unless Whitman is an exceedingly classy gal and wants to be there to break the layoffs news in person, we’re taking her presence as a good sign. CEOs like to revel in the light of good news, so Whitman’s presence gives us the inclination that we’re (1) going to see some actual news, and (2) it might actually be good news. Be that a sale, licensing, or HP keeping webOS? And we’re back in the “we don’t know” camp again.

We know the possibilities of what happens with a financial transaction. HP sells webOS: it goes to another company, HP’s out of the picture, and hopefully we see hardware and not just patent lawsuits.1 HP licenses webOS: HP handles the software development, somebody pays them for the right to use webOS on their hardware, and we’re practically guaranteed new hardware. HP keeps webOS: hopefully we’ll see new hardware that’s not printers or servers. HP kills webOS: we see nothing, ever.

But there’s one more possibility, one that parts of the community have been pushing for and one that makes us uneasy: open-sourcing webOS. Don’t get us wrong, we love open source software. One of the biggest reasons for the resiliency of the webOS community, and arguably part of the reason webOS is still around today, has been the open source development, patching, and distribution pioneered by WebOS Internals. Open source is good. But there’s only been one open source success story in the mobile world: Android. And in reality, the success of Android has not been due to its open source nature, but because of the support of Google and manufacturers reeling in the face of the iPhone. Open-sourcing webOS would not help the matter – our fear is that webOS would simply fall into the ranks of other failed open source mobile operating systems. Without the support of hardware manufacturers, open sourcing webOS would only serve the homebrew community, which while important is a small portion of the userbase.

So here we are, sitting anxiously and pondering the potential fates of webOS. All signs point towards actual news, but what that news actually is? Stay tuned...

65 Comments

PLEASE tell me someone is making a new webOS phone!

Someone is making a new webOS phone
there
:P

...so true...

How come when I did something like this I got down-voted???

Android, Blackberry and IOS are kind of each making WebOS phones... Well, they are stealing the best parts anyway.

I keep reminding myself that I shouldn't expect much from HP announcing anything - they are HP after all, a business ran by functional retards.

functional?

HP is going to spin WebOS off into a seperate company headed by Jon to make phones and tablets.

They will call it... Palm.

(Wouldn't that be something...)

The thought had crossed my mind. :P

The more I think about it the more I think this is the only direction HP can go if they want to keep WebOS alive. It rubs the red ink out of HP's books and throws it all into a company that will sink or float on it's own books.

The only other alternative is selling the patents while killing WebOS. HP is sitting on a ton of patents that are worth millions, especially in the current sue everyone selling a black rectangle type of market.

Well they'd have to give the new spin off something like 5 billion in cash to go along with it. Otherwise, we are back to where we were with Palm - no money to compete with Google and Apple. Add Microsoft to the mix...

True enough.

Only if Jon would be willing to give up his love for plastic.

Having Palm back would be great, if they could read the tea leaves and put out proper hardware.

I'm ready for the first phone made of high impact ceramics.

Wouldn't webos run great on a razr?

I actually like the soft touch plastic much more than metal and glass. It feels comfortable to hold.

Afterwards, the gov't will determine that Palm is "Too big to fail" so it can get a fat bailout ;)

If it's headed up by Jon then it will fail again. Isn't it enough he's killed it twice already?

I'm hoping for Ted's webOS emporium, but Amazon would be nice too.

Of course, Ted would only build one phone, with a 1.2" screen, a 16 MHz processor, and charge $14,000 for it. "I'm terrible at sales, Gregory!"

That would be nice, yes. But Amazon has the same problem as Palm: no money. Yes, for the USA that is. But Palm never did release any webOS in Europe except for the Pre (a year after release). When HP took over, half of Europe got webOS instantly.
Amazon has never even released anything here in Europe other than departments (.co.uk, .de., .fr etc). But in terms of software or the App Store, nope. So I doubt they have the money to release it here. Don't get me wrong: I would do anything to save webOS, but I do want to get my hands on it, even if that would mean that I have to import it from a neighbouring country (like I did with my Touchpad).

I just activated my Pre 3 on Verizon last night. Please don't let this meeting be the final nail

"Hold on to your butts" - Ray Arnold, aka Sam Jackson.

I have been hoping all of this time for Palm WebOS hardware to kick back up. I am still on Pre- until it dies and I cant get another refurb, but, I dont know if we can come back and compete.
Not going to lie. Syri on the IPhone is tempting, especially for someone like me who forgets everything and refuses to take notes or make alarms. If we can come up with something else comparable,(we already have a better OS), but if they dont already have something in the works, we may be doomed. Yes, I am still on Sprint and have been waiting, and still will be waiting, but when it goes out, I will not go back to an Evo like phone, I like Syri, not IPhone, but Syri. That one thing may sell me. Must fix battery life though.

Until my TP and Pre- minus die, WebOS forever.

You should just get the 4S already. The "battery life issue" still is comparable with the average (optimized) webOS phone. Heck, some days it's better. Even if HP saves webOS, I wouldn't buy another HP product ever. I still enjoy my TP even though webOS was more complete on my Pre+. And webOS is finally realized (a la Ice Cream Sandwich), I will go that route when my iPhone becomes a dinosaur in mobile tech.

get a Verizon pre2 from ebay and put the comm board of your pre in it and you won't be looking at another phone for a while.

Pre2 is way better and smoother than Pre. The process was very easy too and didn't even have to do any software patches and stuff to get to work. The 2.1 Verizon doctor works just fine with Sprint.

My hope is that they finally put a bullet in it publicly. To string everyone along for so long is ridiculous. It was obvious in August what their intentions were but they balked on making a public statement. Hopefully tonight they'll kill it once and for all and allow those poor folks still hanging on some sort of closure.

I love the article photo. It's exactly right.

"Open-sourcing webOS would not help the matter – our fear is that webOS would simply fall into the ranks of other failed open source mobile operating systems"

Ummmm… yeah, that happened already.

I'll be happy if I'm wrong, but I don't see why anyone would have hope for some kind of turnaround for webOS at this point. If it *were* open sourced, the community could at least do something to keep it alive on other hardware – like all those Android devices, or bring it to the desktop. If it isn't open sourced, there will be no legal options for keeping it going.

"I am here today to ley you folks know that we appreciate your tremendous work with webOS... blah.... blah.... blah.... and we will let you now personally what we will do with webOS in the coming weeks."

"And we will make it right with all of you"

Just.

Please...

Let us not hear the words "in the coming months..."

As long as "in the coming months" mean that they will continue with webOS Software like they do now, then I don't mind (although I'd love to see the hw coming back).

"Bringing Rubinstein back into the equation is an interesting move – is he taking back control of webOS?"

Rubinstein, riding in to once again lead webOS in a new company, after riding it to the ground in the previous two companies that developed webOS.

If Rubinstein is in charge again, it can't end well.

Agreed. Jon was there for webos' creation, but he's only been bad news for its existence since.

Palm got taken over and started again in the last 15 years for about 3 times. That says a lot. He needs to get his **** up and force HP to continue with webOS with him in charge of all the webOS-teams.

WebOS Forever.

Good analysis. Well, there's one other possibility - they also might not announce anything at all. Meg and Jon might just come to do a meet and greet and try to rally the troops (prevent further defections) while HP continues the process of deciding what to do.

Meg's presence does suggest some good news but, then, the fact that they have the meeting at the end of the day (after stock markets close) is not the best sign.

AllthingsD says IBM and Oracle are out according to their sources. Amazon, Intel, and RIM are still potential webOS buyers.

We'll see...

It doesn't make sense that Meg would call an all-hands, show up and then do a meet and greet. As this article points out CEOs of such big companies rarely show up unless it's big. A meet and greet couldn't be smaller.

Too bad. IBM would have been great. They made great hardware and they have more than enough money and time to develop webOS.
Please, not RIM. I don't want a future webOS-device in a BB **** factor.
Amazon doesn't have the money to go overseas with webOS.
Intel is already focussing on the new Tizen, so I doubt they will do anything with webOS if they'd take over.

If webos was going to shut down I think it would be a nice email from CEO and maybe HR. Meg Whitman would be far away in a safehouse with loads of security guards to keep away the furious webOS fans. So it's sell or keep. I don't think licensing makes sense. No one would trust HP to keeptheir part of the deal. Good luck to webOS!

Palm will return with webOS as a separate division of HP

I really do hope that HP or another company starts producing hardware. I really have a hard time every time someone buys an IPad at the store I work at. It was almost heaven when TPs were available and I could at least attempt to sell other pads. I still think it would benefit HP in the long run to move forward with WEBOS.

I know they are planning Windows 8 tablets too, but not every one will want those. What's the problem producing both...their servers are sold with Windows or linux after all...why not do two flavours of tablets.

I'd love to see phones too although I picked up a Pre3 already so I won't be in the market for a new one for a bit.

That way webOS can be funded by HP deep pockets, webOS is a different enough animal that needs to be kept separate; HP gets any benefit & webOS on its own equip (printers, et.) but none of the downfall.

There is another winner should webOS be open-sourced: current webOS hardware (Pre-/+/2/3 and TouchPad) owners. If webOS does get open-sourced, we might see the life of these devices extended 2 maybe 3 years more.

A far-fetched possibility if webOS is indeed open-sourced is that, similar to Android finding its way into webOS devices, we might see webOS ported to other devices including Android and (unlikely) Apple.

I think the software is fine for to stick with a TouchPad. However, I can new hardware coming out with features like SD cards, HDMI, higher res. screen, etc. that I would want.

What's the best place to hear the news the soonest? A particular tweet source? Here?

Do what's best for webOS!

The suspense is killing me.

Isn't the meeting over yet???? It was scheduled for 430pm EST... it's almost 630pm now...

Don't the attendees have twitter? WHY HAVE WE NOT HEARD ANYTHING YET?!?!

No it was going to be 4:30pm PST.

I don't think it was scheduled for 4:30 ET. I'm seeing 5PM PT on Twitter from some sources.

what's thev odds on It surviving - 50/50 ?

Palm is alive! IT'S ALIVE!

Note: Jason Robitaille is named Chief Developer Officer! As head of all Homebrew, Precentral, WebOSroundup and every single WebOS community out there, since now they're all integrated with Palm/WebOS Software and Hardware Development!

Oh how I love our childish innocence and positive-ness. In other words: our muchness!

LONG LIVES WEBOS!!!

I thought you were serious at first...

I don't know that this is definitely news. It could just be for morale and to make potential buyers think they need to pay more because HP has seriously thought about keeping it.

But that said, I doubt Whitman would show up if the answer is that they are selling it off for patents, and development is going to stop. That might be good news for HP (resolution, income) but it would not be well received by the audience and, as noted, no one likes to be the bearer of bad news.

I tend to agree. The web tends to rife with bad words whenever they discuss the potential of webos death. It's widely considered a great OS with poor management.

Lets hope they'll continue development and, at the very least, licensing.

If HP keeps webOS for consumer tablets, but stays out of the phone business I will be devestated. All I wanted all along was a freaking Pre 3.

webOS cannot succeed if it resides purely on 7 to 10" tablets. It must be available on a larger set of form factors. Whether it is available on a device with a cellular radio is a conundrum. iOS and Android suggest this is a requirement to gain critical mass for developers. I'm not so sure. There are embedded uses for webOS that would broaden the installed base to places where other mobile OSes do not reside. Think about all the places where Windows CE has been used.

I wish there were a live feed for this moment of truth... can't sit still on my chair now. maybe I should just swing by palm's building to see if I can sneeze in.

The anticipation is KILLING ME

it's almost 5pm, what's the deal??

I'm crossing my fingers for good news here (Amazon purchase) but fully expecting to hear something that makes absolutely no sense at all from HP.

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