webOS GBU to become quasi-independent cloud and UX company: meet GRAM | webOS Nation
 
 

webOS GBU to become quasi-independent cloud and UX company: meet GRAM 101

by Derek Kessler Tue, 14 Aug 2012 10:14 pm EDT

webOS GBU to become quasi-independent company focused user experience and the cl

If you've been wondering where HP's webOS Global Business Unit was going under the leadership of HP Chief of Staff Martin Risau, you're not alone. For a while now we've been wondering what the next steps would be for the webOS group after finishing out the roadmap to Open webOS 1.0 next month. Coming soon will be a new page in the saga of Palm, with a new rebranding and product focus as GRAM.

It was introduced in an all-hands meeting with the webOS employees late last week. The name Gram (we're going to use traditional capitalization standards from here on out) is an interesting choice, with the tagline of "Potent. Light. Nimble. At the core of all things big and small.", which we guess is technically true on some level if we're talking about the unit of measurement gram (0.035 oz). The logo for Gram melds the 'g' and 'r' into a stylized line butterfly, as if to symbolize the metamorphosis the webOS team is about to undergo. Going heavy on the symbolism here.

What's more interesting is the stated focus for Gram. Unsurprisingly, Gram is dropping any pretenses of producing consumer hardware. Instead the company is going to focus on software, user experience, the cloud, engineering, and partnering. If you're wondering exactly what that means, you're as in the dark as we are, though apparently webOS and Enyo, as well as the webOS group's own cloud services team (said to still be quite large with respect to the overall size of the unit), will play some sort of role. As the description above says, Gram will leverage "the core strengths" of those products, with the end goal of building "a technology that will unleash the freedom of the web." Again, we can only speculate as to what that means, but it seems to us that webOS will be playing a smaller role in the overall mission of Gram.

What's even more interesting is the structuring of Gram. While the webOS GBU is currently a business unit within HP, Gram will be a new company, that while under the HP funding umbrella will be a separate entity. HP's purse strings are pretty tight right now, what with the $8 billion write down that came from EDS just last week, so there might be some question as to how willing HP will be to continue funding a project like this. Though, as a technically independent company, Gram would have the ability to seek outside funding should HP fall through.

Weirdly, Gram is taking an odd 'start-up' attitude (where have we heard that before?) and not really talking about what they intend to offer the world. webOS employees - soon to be Gram employees - are being advised that they can talk to friends and family about Gram, but strangers are to be told that "Gram is a new company. We are in stealth mode on our product offering." Which to any outsider says "I can't talk about it, because we don't have anything to talk about right now." In the meantime, don't be surprised if you see webOS GBU employees walking around sporting the Gram logo on shirts or bags and not talking about what it means.

The public roll-out for Gram hasn't been given a timeline, but we've been told to expect it relatively soon, possibly by the end of next month. They've been busy remodeling Building 3 of the Palm Campus for Gram. Buildings 1 and 2 are the more photographed curved glass and concrete structures bearing the HP logo on the south side of Maude Ave, Building 3 is a more traditional single-level office building across the street. This is a change from February's plan to move the webOS group out to Cupertino, but then again it seems a lot has changed since February.

We're trying to find out more about Gram, specifically what this means for the development of Open webOS, but given that they're supposedly in 'stealth mode', we aren't going to get your or our hopes up just yet.

Hi everyone,

Thank you for all of your enthusiasm at yesterday’s new brand announcement: GRAM.  We hope you will fall in love with the brand just as lots of us have already.

Please note that our Mission, Values and Plan of Action are the same. We are continuing to march forward on our timelines as usual—nothing new there.

We have much work to do, and, again, I solicit your help.

Yes, this is a new brand—it is just the beginning, and there is so much more to do. And yet unveiling the new brand is also a Call to Action:

Try it on. We don’t expect you to love it overnight. We are no longer a consumer hardware brand, we are a different company with focus on software, User Experience, Cloud, engineering and partnering. This change in identity will take some getting used to and that’s normal.

Stealth mode. We are an incubation company, and we are trusting you to keep this company name and product under the radar to give it time to take root and grow. You can wear the logo, help build the momentum of the new identity, talk to your families and friends about it. If someone from the outside asks, you can say, “GRAM is a new company. We are in stealth mode on our product offering.”

Tap your network. Help us hire the best and the brightest, refer your friends and help us in our shared purpose as we continue our rise to the top. You can use the name to help us to recruit.

Be the culture. Spread our Values:  People Matter. Integrity and Trust. Deliberate Innovation. Act small, deliver big.

For those of you who could not attend yesterday’s unveiling – we really missed you.  Please be on the lookout for the gift bags with our new cool branded items, which we be mailing out to you this and next week.  All of you should get one, if not – let me know.

Best

Martin

101 Comments

I don't understand.

And before you ask me what I don't understand, my answer is anything. I don't understand anything.

I'd say that you, and every other commend I've red here, indeed do understand this announcement: It's NOTHING, dressed up`in a ridiculous way. The only thing that makes webOS sound "serious" is its relation with the big fat company that bought it. So be prepared to get laughed at, all the way from here to hell.

Sorry to soundnegative, perhaps there's some good will behind this crap. But it looks frighteningly identical to the Amiga history. Be very scared.

on a plus note the amiga eventually was revived with AmigaOS4.2 with better hardware which we can apparantly buy today, their just a nightmare to try and aquire, and it was 1 hell of a wait tbh, all my old hardware and custom eyetech mods all crapped out over time.

if "webOS" in whatever guise it forms ends up going the same way, we could be in for quite a wait (i suppose im patient which helps), im big on wanting something to happen with this, just my reality check tells me that their basicaly saying "we need time to figure out what were actually doing if anything".

but yeah it sounds like commodore esp their non usa divisions were all seperate entities, and when the main branch died the others being independant to an extent could struggle on for a while, but ofc that didnt end well.

Why can't HP revive old plam name again. Instead of creating new brand name and lot of investment on it, better re initiate the "Plam" brand itself.

HTC is slowly using webOS UI in Sense UI.
HTC one X copied webOS interface to closing the application as card swipe up.

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In any case, this is not for most people.

.... So are we in for another name change?
Gramnation perhaps? Lol

I thinking more along the lines of Gram Crackers!

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At the very least, they've admitted that people who are hoping for future webOS devices are wasting their time.  I mean, sure, it's still possible that it'll be compatible with other hardware, but they're finally saying that nothing new will be released with webOS on it by default.

I don't get that impression at all -- This frees them from the curse HP put on their brand name with carriers and with mobile device manufacturers.

Well, keep holding your breath then, I don't know how many more nails they can put in the coffin though.

that phrase is getting old. i think it's time we put the nail in the coffin on the nail in the coffin

Yo dawg, I heard you like nail in the coffin, so we put nail in the coffin in your nail in the coffin, so you can webOS while you curse HP.

if that helps then yeah, however i dont buy Lexmark printers and never will because i know their just IBM crap renamed.

Yeah, no.
 
Changing a name doesn't change anything about its reception from consumers, carriers, or retailers. It's changing a name and that's it.

Changing the names of things is sometimes all that's required to get people to forget about their pasts.

Ummmm, not sure to what to do with this announcement.

Do I get excited about and hope for good things to come?

or

Do I take the New York state of mind, Whatever?

is this the pre curser to a google like setup? They are creating a company with the support and infastructure to support there product (webos) on othe hardware manufacturers devices?

also creating a way to compete with microsoft (windows) without risking the partnerships they already have with microsoft.

Google has money. Where is Gram going to get the $$ ?

Trying to wrap my head around a company that seems unwilling to eat what they cook.

Kilo is better

Gram is a great name :) ... says Ziplock

I want to be excited, but I have a bad feeling about this.

Well I am actually happy. I love palm devices.
__________
medical assistant job description hq

?

It's really keeping in line with the tradition of Palm being one crazy shape-shifting beast of a company. They've been part of 3Com, US Robotics, Palm, PalmONE, PalmSource, back to Palm, to HP GBU...this change makes a lot of sense for them (and may prevent HP from continued micromanagement). Only thing I can think of that could be dangerous for them is that they might not get a lot of legal protection from companies like Apple and Google if they do something rash like...I don't know...enable Apple and Android users to install Open webOS over their iOS and Android installs, and thus take business away from their application marketplaces. Not sure where the patent portfolios ended up, but my bet is that HP has 'em.

Well Palm (now HP) has the patent for the smartphone so they can b*tch slap ANY company who makes ones. This is likely why HP has not been named in any suit.

no, they haven't been called into any lawsuit, because webOS phones were different enough, that's first, and secondly (and most importantly), the number of phones they moved was insignificant, so the "demonstrated damages" to other brands would not be worth the legal cost of the trial.

This is a misunderstanding. If you want to keep your patents, you MUST rigorously defend them. If you see something infringing on one of your patent and don't officially inform them of such you lose the ability to defend it later.

So, Apple would have to say that they did not know that WebOS violated any patents at that time in order to sue later.

Of course, most lawyers will find a way around this statute, which is another reason why the current patent system is broken.

$$ and fame > law.

Not true. You can selectively enforce patents. You can also wait to sue, but the longer you wait, the less damages you can claim (possibly zero, but you could still bar them from using the patent), especially if it looks like you waited mainly so you could sue for more money. Informing them is not necessary, but it increases the damages if they are knowingly infringing and helps support your case that you tried to negotiate a licensing agreement (even if on totally unfair terms).

Trademarks on the other hand must be defended immediately.

I think you are confusing patents with trademarks. If you do not rigorously defend a trademark you risk loosing it, patents however are different.

the patent palm lovers constantly site as a patent on the smartphone does not prevent other companies from making smartphones. People simply don't understand what that patent covers and not only that they can't identify any of that tech in current phones. This is simply a palm lovers fiction that keeps them feeling good.

Seriously? Gotta check the calendar - is this April 1st?

So HP is not going to push webOS or Enyo into the marketplace (and partner with other companies on it) but somehow they expect a new startup is going to be a success at it instead? It'll be interesting to hear what the thinking is here but I'm skeptical. But, then, since HP exited the webOS hardware business, I've been struggling to understand what possible business model HP could have for webOS and Enyo. If they expect to just make money on support for open source technologies, that is a low-margin business. For example, the Mozilla Foundation and most Linux distros (which subscribe to that type of model) aren't making lots of money.

At least it's metric.
 
-- Rod

You silly aussies, insisting on holding on to the measurement units of your former colonial overlords.

Only problem is that our colonial overlords were imperial all the way. :-)

Oh yeah? Well, she is still your queen so blah! :-P

Yeah, but I might need a pint after this, though... The soap opera just doesn't stop.

Gram...? Face palm!!! Where do you tards come up with these stupid f-ing names? And let me get this strait your in stealth mode meaning no one hears you but you want to make roots and grow... am I the only one confused by this? If want to get ppl excited about a product put it out in the open even if its a crappy alpha build. One last thing if anyone ever calls themselves cool there usually lame. Your lettin me down and I don't even know anything about you.

Seriously, I think they are in stealth mode by default because no one is even looking for them on their radar.

Let's try to at least sound like mature adults?

Hmm... is this a new PalmSource? Seems like history might be repeating itself again, and if we're lucky, we'll get back to Palm again, with a gray logo instead.

Why can't they just call it palm?

HP has to keep Palm for 2 years for tax reasons. HP bought Palm in July 2010, so exactly 25 months later --- HP spun Palm back out.

Quote:

"Multiple sources tell us that there are specific tax benefits to keeping Palm "on the books" until July 1st, the second anniversary of the completion of HP's acquisition, and that Whitman could conceivably drop the axe shortly thereafter — the internal roadmap apparently extends beyond that date, but as always, those plans are subject to change."

http://www.theverge.com/2012/6/5/3062611/palm-webos-hp-inside-story-pre-...

Exactly. We have a winner!

I don't see how this new company can generate any revenue when their presumptive products (webOS, Enyo) are free and open source.

About the only thing I can imagine from this is a focus on embedded systems..... smart TV? the fabled webOS printers? quick start mode on PCs? (that one doesn't really make sense now that SSDs are becoming a standard) It's all a stretch though.

Seems like they're going to treat it like a start-up, meaning it doesn't have to be profitable. Of course most start-ups have tiny staffs, which likely means more staff reductions are ahead, though they'll likely be gradual.

...say it with me:
"prin-ters, prin-ters PRIN-TERS!!!!!!!!"

(sarcasm off)

"quick start mode on PCs"
ekhem... My Thinkpad t61p (not a fresh one...), with 5600RPM HDD & Windows 7 on it, boots up few times faster than my Pre 3... I am affraid to even think how fast it would be, if I upgraded to SSD :)

.
One's first question might be .... wtf is this gobbly-gook statement actually saying. With no disrespect to Martin.

But where would the fun be, without dissecting proclamations bit by bit.

  • Gram .... I can live with that
  • Mission - a word I cringe hearing more so these days. Who besides NASA & Richard "burn those feet" Robbins uses this one word symbol
  • Stealth mode - it's one big war going on out there
  • Help us hire the best and the brightest - Does this mean more folks working the webOS / Whatever? combo

For me, my webOS future probably lies with webOS Internals and a myriad of other contributors. That 2nd step - this world of Gram - will hopefully be more than some drug induced branding.
.

Tony Robbins?

yeah ... sorry ... that would be Tony Robbins.

Richard is a Canadian motivational speaker.

.

Keeping a hands-off approach and letting Gram handle the software could free HP to let any OEM ship webOS devices, if there's even any interest left. HP could also make another webOS device, or at least webOS-compatible, to spur interest and it won't be in a situation to compete with OEMs like it would've been if it still outright owned webOS.
 
It's running on fumes.

They should rename the rest of HP 'GRAMPS' to match.

The Palm saga continues! I'm excited to see exactly what Gram will do.

same here I take this as great News

Give me a "GRAM" of webOS and insert it right into my heart!

Another "startup"? Didn't we hear that last year, when Leo wanted to phase out all consumer hardware?
Focus on cloud services? Well, the webOS cloud services (profile, dev portal) have been very reliable... NOT.
I don't know, maybe the split from HP is good or it is not. But I am not holding my breath...
I wonder, if this will affect how long the Palm profile servers will be running...

A gram is better than a damn.

Could I get a damn gram please .. maam?

It'll be a Brave New World for Palm.

certainly is because most were fired or left.

So who will own the App Catalog ( and its revenue) ? HP or GRAM ?

Very good question! To be followed by...

1) Who owns and supports the servers where our WebOS (Palm) profiles reside and our backups are kept?

2) If Gram is for the open source WebOS, Enyo, etc., who supports the non-open source WebOS currently on devices?

Far to understand how they're planning to generate revenues the all thing makes more then a certain kind of sense.
A platform, whether is open or not, needs a company behind it to a present a contract power. At the open point webOS is likely Android a platform for everyone but Palm is dead, it would not be smart to go around as a zombie. HP it's not Google or Microsoft. Why the hell should other producers choose an os for their devices which is HP branded? They know this issue. Aside this at HP they have now this webOS tecnology with a soul but without a body. If it should go a certainway they have now something indipendent, which can be developed, it can become succesfully or it can be sold with the all package of employes and knowledge.
Gram might represent this and it might represent a future, a meeting point for thise who believe in webOS. We'll stay tuned.

Anyone already managed to replace palm with gram on the Touchstone ;-)
The new name needs to grow on us, I think.

Hope it doesn't end as only 1 gram of Palm. There is the saying: Wait until you weigh a gram (or ounce). Basically it means that you can wait forever.

Gram is German for grief.
Is this a bad omen?

It's not prevalent ;)

...good Gram!

:)

why did penfold/dangermouse flash before my eyes.

I'm sitting here reading all the post...as I can understand a lot of the frustration from some, its kinda salty reading. We are here most of us because we believed in a product that "we" believe was unmatched by any other. While googling searches late at night, during the day from an apple...(two hr battery limited phone)...lol...trying to get some wind of what's the next step. I bought the pre the that day in june 6, 9th 2010 (it's been a while) when palm won the CES award. I've been a palm fan for a long time since treo and even back when it was just pda's. Palm to me started the touch screen. But for the most part palm was just a solid product that I still today own and use. I've left and went to blackberry, apple 4s, and even tried android. The point is I've always made it back to palm. Can't seem to shake it. I can do without the apps for this and that! I'm quite satisfied with my calendar email and a phone that still says palm. Yes palm blew it on advertising, late getting phone to shelves, promises of flash and no flash...then the bankruptcy, oh no the hp take good grief...all was just so much to stomach. But now we get just a wink of good news...just a wink....but to me a true palm fan it's a breathe of fresh air. Its a long opinion but I'd sport a gram to-shirt always believed that there has to be someone smart enough to realize that os has so much more road to travel.

HP is just setting the stage: First they are trying to create a brand and magically give it value in the market. If they are marginally successful, by this time next year they will try to sell it.

But no one will pay anything significant for a company that has no worthy patents and only potential value based solely on marketing.

Sadly, as HP will never give up Palm's patents, our beloved Palm and any potential for a meaningful resurrection has already gone the way of Compaq... farewell...

"we are in stealth mode"

yep, you are...

Just like I said, HP is in damage control management mode re: webOS remnants, and is flushing it out, after they completely botched the whole affair. Move along, nothing to see here!

BTW, I just forgot to add:

F... YOU HP!!!!!!!!

and I mean it.

"Gram is dropping any pretenses of producing consumer hardware. Instead the company is going to focus on software, user experience, the cloud, engineering, and partnering"

Leo would be so proud.

Now, they don't have to mention WebOS anymore. Shoved in a drawer to be seen no more.

I'm going to add some chocolate and marshmallows...

I'd say that you, and every other commend I've red here, indeed do understand this announcement: It's NOTHING, dressed up`in a ridiculous way. The only thing that makes webOS sound "serious" is its relation with the big fat company that bought it. So be prepared to get laughed at, all the way from here to hell.

Sorry to soundnegative, perhaps there's some good will behind this crap. But it looks frighteningly identical to the Amiga history. Be very scared.

GRAM is the Marg version of Meg Whitman's name backwards. Let's hope she wants it to become something worth putting her name on.

Hard to judge the value of the project as it is not ready to be rolled out yet. I guess if I were an OEM I would prefer some distance between the OS and the company that could be making a competing device. So I could see a legitimate business purpose for structuring things that way. Whether there will be or not who knows.

Does HP know that "Gram" is the german translation for "sorrow"? :(

I get the impression that HP wanted to kill WebOS and stop wasting money on it, but there was enough internal disagreement that the compromise was, "Fine, start your own company and do it then. We'll fund you X amount for X amount of time, but you have to be profitable on your own by then or it's finally over."

The impression I get is that HP has to keep Palm for 2 years after acquisition for tax purposes.

And nobody is the right mind would actually purchase Palm right now --- so HP is stuck with it. But HP doesn't want to stick with it --- so they spun it out at the earliest time (i.e. 25 months after acquisition).

Maybe they'll make a super-tiny phone (Zoolander-style) and call it the Milligram? :-)

or, "milliVeer"???

Oh, the joy I get from this website! The never-ending drama, the true believers and deceivers, the constant building up of hope and expectation, followed inevitably by shattering betrayal. This is truly opera in its purest form. I just want to thank each and every one of you that has been a part of this remarkable story. May this crazy roller coaster ride never end!

to be fair tho any "future" the platform/OS has is coming from webosinternals/other devs not HP or the scattered tortured remains of palm, best thing they gave was opensourcing tho.

hmmm... I do believe I hear the fat lady warming up her voice.

oh, and I almost forgot...

CURSE YOU Leo Apothecker!!!!

I'm gonna wait for the movie version.

I'd say this is mildly favorable development. It's the next step for opensourcing the OS, setting some distance from HP esp if other OEMs are interested. Of course this means HP can start to set up a end date for the money it is putting in webOS which while not huge would be a tempting target to cut by the HP accountants. If there is a real OEM / company interested in webOS then maybe they can contribute to funding Gram. It seems like too much work for HP to do this just to pull the plug right now. Would have been easier just to bury it in a hp dept and cut the budget.
Of course, it is still on life support...

Pre Central > webOS Nation > GRAM Nation ? ?

No need to change the name, keep it as a WebOS Nation, so we always remember the good core behind whatever names appears later on it.
Need to wait, what GRAM will do in the future, in reality, not in "hidden mode" like now.

I'll tell you what "Gram will do in the future" - it will dissolve into nothingness, with a faintest "pop", just like HP had planned to finish that debacle of takeover.

I think you are all missing the point. Have you looked at Microsoft Azure or Google Web Toolkit? Easy to deploy web frameworks that simplify application development.
I suspect what we have here is a services company that will offer a cloud-based web application platform for companies, using Enyo as the toolkit so that applications designed for it will run anywhere from phones to desktops - thus promoting the Java-like idea of "Write once run anywhere".
"Hardware" is irrelevant. This is about writing a program that runs on a cloud server that works equally well on a Galaxy S3, an iPad, or a Windows desktop without extensive redesign and recoding.
If it works it destroys a whole "app" market which is just a skin around a website that doesn't work properly in the normal phone browser.
The money is made by hosting, training, and providing APIs to other services such as credit card billing.

"(...) 'Hardware' is irrelevant. This is about writing a program that runs on a cloud server that works equally well on a Galaxy S3, an iPad, or a Windows desktop without extensive redesign and recoding."
...yeah, sure. Having been in the software business for quite a few years (wheeew, it is more like "decades" now...), I must warn you, that since forever this was, is, and always will be a nonsense, that whole "write once, run everywhere" thing. It simply is not true for a great majority of applications, who are expected to be anything pleasant and effective to use, running on very different hardware. There need to be different design considerations, to optimize most of applications for different screen sizes, human interfaces available, processor and memory requirements, that just throw that Unicorn goal through the window straight away.
For the minority of them, that would be able to run that way without some serious drawbacks, we are already there (and long time), with Javas and hundreds of other what nots. I cannot see, for the life of me, what "game changing" yet another wannabe cross-platform framework could bring to the table.

they got big fat nothing to offer

Let me see. I started working with computers in the days of discrete logic. The first operating system I developed for, in assembler, predated Unix. I think the answer to your comment is that it is always possible to design an application that cannot be written as any kind of WORA (write once run anywhere), and proprietary vendors want to lock you into that mindset.

However, for most applications that are actually functionally good enough, WORA is achievable nowadays if you have the right kind of toolkit and detection software. The issue is whether you are trying to sell amuseware or functionware. If you are trying to sell amuseware, the customer doesn't need the product and you have to make them want it. If you are selling functionware - as is my company - the customer wants functions that are important to their business, and nowadays want them to work on BYOD. They do not want them to follow every UI criterion in the book.

An example is banking websites. I use one regularly. No heavy design, no fancy effects, just the correct presentation in a workable order of menus, data and actions. These are prime targets for a deployment platform designed to work with standards-compliant browsers that run in a variety of form factors with touch or mouse input.

The fact is that Java and Javascript have been huge steps forward in WORA, whereas technologies like Silverlight, Flash and .NET haven't exactly set the Internet on fire.

well it seems to me that whatever your company is doing, belongs to the "overwhelming minority" category of apps, that can be wrote once & run everywhere, without conflicting design priorities, for completely different devices. Amuseware / functionware? Sorry I don't buy that hype, that if something is usable, than it must be portable or platform independent, is that a way that you are selling your point, or what?? Specifically, how can the same application share the UI design, across smartphone/tablet/PC worlds, and be usable at all, on each of them? It is hardly possible at all.

Banking sites are the example of WORE???? Seriously? Must have been frequenting different banking sites (the ones that have separate application now for every major mobile platform AND completely separate web access apps)

So while yes, they made great steps forward, towards an unachievable (in general) goal, but the whole promise is false - you cannot design UI program effectively, if you do not take into consideration many things, that totally depend on the platform, some of them so basic like for example screen size/resolution, available input methods/devices, different user interaction paradigm(s) etc.

My secret source tells me the new hardware will be coloured Gram's Ashes Grey.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

" Why not just revive Palm ? " the Palm brand was soiled when HP failed to revive webOS . Atleast with Gram , we'll start new . Maybe this is good news . WebOS will have some distance from HP so it can start over without having a bad reputation . I mean , it's not like ( if any other webOS phone comes out ) the people at the retail stores will be like " hey remember all those extra webOS phones we had left over ? "

/stealth

Gram.

We're light, but not a lightweight.

stealth