Whitman: HP will make new webOS tablets, eventually, but not smartphones | webOS Nation

Whitman: HP will make new webOS tablets, eventually, but not smartphones 70

by Derek Kessler Fri, 09 Dec 2011 4:07 pm EST

HP CEO Meg Whitman talked with the guys over at The Verge about HP’s future plans for webOS, now that they’ve decided to open source it. While all of the official verbiage on the announcement was very careful to avoid any mention of hardware from HP or any other manufacturer, The Verge asked pointedly if HP had any intentions on making new webOS hardware. Said Whitman:

“The answer to that is yes but what I can't tell you is whether that will be in 2012 or not. But we will use webOS in new hardware, but it's just going to take us a little longer to reorganize the team in a quite different direction than we've been taking it in the past.”

So we may or may not see any new webOS hardware out of HP in the next year (though it doesn't sound likely), but as far as the CEO is concerned, HP definitely intends to put out something new that runs webOS. Eventually. But what might that device be? Tablets, Whitman admitted when pressed, commenting that “I do not believe we will be in the smartphone business again.”

That’s sad news to us, as we’re what you might call big fans of webOS smartphones. It’s how we got hooked on webOS and it’s the webOS hardware for which we’ve been waiting. Could somebody else take the open-sourced webOS and make it run on a smartphone? Sure, that’s something somebody could do. But will they? That’s the big question.

Source: The Verge



If you ask me, this still shows HP doesn't get it. The future of computing is in mobile devices, this is why HP bought Palm in the first place. To say they are not going to get in the smartphone business again, is an admission to giving up half the battle at the outset....well, almost at the outset. Of course, we've all grown accustomed to HP saying one thing and doing another.

Well, slash and burn Leo ended up laying off all the Palm staff that had experience with smartphones. This included HW folks from HP who previously made Windows CE devices for HP (and the iPaq PDAs) that joined the Palm team.

Tablets, on the other hand, fall within PSG's domain so there is still some expertise there. The Touchpad (and TP Go) was supposedly a Palm GBU design but PSG has produced the HP Slate tablet so there was some overlap.

Agreed on the point it is shortsighted. If you can't make competitive phones, it doesn't sound likely that you can make any competitive mobile devices. And, though the bring your own model is increasing, enterprises do still buy lots of phones. Of course, even prior to the Palm purchase, HP wasn't competitive in phones (were their WinCE phones ever truly competitive?) so it's not really much of a change.

well she's not sure. So hopefully, the webOSS community can really open this OS up to its full potential and convince HP that making a smartphone based on webOS may be worthwhile. HP was smart to leave it to the devs to develop the future of the OS. I'm hoping the OSS license will allow for porting to any device, tablet or phone.

“I do not believe we will be in the smartphone business again.”

She's not SURE they are making phones again?

Gotta leave a bit of hope for the folks still waiting on the C40...

My guess is, unlike her predecessor, she is hedging her bet and "never say never".

Given the cost to restaff and restart a hardware effort, especially for the smartphones, she is probably not sure at this time.

So..."In the near term what I would imagine — and this could change, in full disclosure — is I would think tablets" = DEFINITELY doing tablets!


"I do not believe we will be in the smartphone business again" = not sure about phones?


Let us hope that Meg figures out that a tablet with a headset, a 3G or 4G data plan and Skype = a phone.

And a small enough tablet fitting those specs could compete pretty handily with any voice-capable device.

I agree.

i think they prefer tablets cause it's more in their control. They just make the tablet and sell it at a best buy. For phones they have to worry about carrier deals, and antenna standards and stuff. And it's not something they've ever been good at, making phones. So my guess is they've always more been interested in tablets, it's closer to what they do good, and it's less hassle.

and to that end any development they do i bet will be on the tablet interface not the phone interface.

And the carriers try to make them put CarrierIQ on the devices and they have to refuse (or more likely, simply cannot because CarrierIQ does not support webOS)...

the thing is that they could go the european way where people buy out their devices outright and simply swap sims as they see fit. Of course it'll suck for us cdma folks but hey.

i would guess there would still be a need to deal with carriers over there too. I thought i remembered stories of no carriers in England wanting the Pre 3 (may be wrong). Point is though you'd think that wouldn't matter if it was as simple as merely putting a phone out their to buy and having people just switch cards. Maybe they need to work with them to make sure it doesn't kill a network, or to give out updates. i don't know just thinking outload. regardless i think tablets are a bit more in their wheelhouse.

Yes, there still is need to deal with the carriers in Europe. But it's more like having to deal with Best Buy in the US.

They want the carriers to have their phones because they sell them inside of their stores and often have subsidised plans. But it's not a MUST BE to be in business like in the US. Not having any carrier selling your phone in Europe is just a disadvantage and not a complete stop of being in business.

That's why European carriers can't put that much pressure onto the phone manufacturers as in the US.

They could (and should, IMO) offer a new line of unlocked phones. And even for current CDMA users, it's a temporary thing, with Sprint and Verizon switching to LTE and other smaller regional carriers bound to follow. The downside of that is that all of the costs are on the manufacturer. They'd have to double down with Best Buy, for instance, and sell more phones there since the carrier stores won't have them.

all do respect if the "future of computing is in mobile" well HP will still make windows 8 tablets so they haven't turned away from mobile in that sense.

the future of computing will not be all mobile thought. That just ignores the millions and millions of computers that need to sit on a desk. It's one of the reasons apple's fancy boxes still have a tiny share of the computing market. Because though the trend is tablets, most people don't need a shiny silver all in one computer. They need a cheap crappy box to sit on a guys desk and not be a fashion statement. And though not a growning segment that's what HP sells and it's not going away soon. General Electric, and Proctor and Gamble, and Ford, etc will still have cubicles that need boring desktops cheap.

Now i'm not a fan of hp but not cause they killed webos, cause they sold me a **** desktop and a defective laptop and refused to replace it. But i digress. Regardless, what most fail to understand is HP has reinvented itself many times. HP started making diagnostic equipment, then calculators, then computers, then printers, then data storage. That's over many years. They have not always been just making computers. And the hard truth is HP may not be able to continue to compete in the mobile space. my gut says they can't. Especially phones. Tablets i think they got a shot. But i'd have gone android first before windows 8. But regardless, the time may be coming for HP to reinvent themselves again in order to survive. And in the end, scary as it may be, Leo and the guys saying move to more enterprise may end up being correct.

I don't think they'll get rid of the consumer computers but i think their future is more the enterprise storage side and enterprise computers. Not us regular consumers.

Don't forget that all those corporate users need a way to access their cloud and enterprise apps. A tablet or smartphone is a nice way to do this, IMHO.

it need not be mobile though. it may be a nice way but i need not be mobile and in many cases it's not practical.

Enterprise apps may on a remote server in a server farm but you still may need to use it on a desktop. Like my old company had document review software where people sat around all day reviewing docs. They didn't do them or have any need or desire to do it from a tablet or phone. Then there is desktop publishing. if you do a ton of writing a tablet just isn't as a great interface.

then there is security. Often enterprise apps may be networked but not offsite so to some people a remote app may be google docs. My old company had the FBI come in to audit our security and make sure it was good enough to meet their standards. But none of it was some sort of mass marketed google type cloud product. We made, it we kept it, and nobody else had access. It was just on a remote server in a server farm.

I think there are plenty of applications where tablets are useful in business and will have tons of traction. But there are also plenty of places that are not going away where people need a traditional, sit down, physical keyboard, for a cheap price sort of set up. And HP as long as it fits that build will sell devices.

i think the idea that every single person will do all their work on a phone or tablet ignores a massive amount of work in traditional corporate area and the needs of those jobs. I think it works for say a tech blog or a website but maybe not for other industries.

I agree completely. Google is flooding the market with android devices, thousands being activated everyday and none faster than smart phones. As people become more and more comfortable with the android system on their phones and their tables it will be a very easy transition to an android based pc because people will still need a pc. And there will be android based PCs in the not too distant future.

webOS phones are way more important to me than tablets.

“The answer to that is yes but what I can't tell you is whether that will be in 2012 or not. But we will use webOS in new hardware, but it's just going to take us a little longer to reorganize the team in a quite different direction than we've been taking it in the past.”

Coming, not so soon...(TM pending)

You are so right and HP is so screwed. Seriously this is the best they could hire for millions of dollars?

The absolute lack of mental ability in the ranks is stunning.

If you really have no intention of doing smartphones again and supporting a whole ecosystem of mobile devices, just drop out altogether and focus on your desktops/servers/storage/software. Consumers want a familiar mobile experience, not to jump back and forth between WebOS and Android/iOS/WinMob and buying two sets of apps which likely won't work together.

Seriously this is not rocket science meg. HP is doomed.

Yes and YES! Rehire the hardware peeps and let HTC/Samsung/LG worry about the phones.

We'll have to see if any of those companies express interest, though. Or lobby one or more of them.

I called it (in today's earlier poll). It makes sense to me...

"we will use webOS in new hardware"

Where in that does it say the word "Tablet"? Remember, the most consistent idea/rumor/thought for quite a while now is webOS Printers... HP is a printer company first. Everything else is second with them.


[quote] Will HP be creating any new webOS hardware?

Meg: The answer to that is yes but what I can’t tell you is whether that will be in 2012 or not. But we will use webOS in new hardware, but it’s just going to take us a little longer to reorganize the team in a quite different direction than we’ve been taking it in the past.

Are we talking printers? Or tablets and phones?

In the near term what I would imagine – and this could change, in full disclosure – is I would think tablets, I do not believe we will be in the smartphone business again.

But tablets are a real possibility?


Anyone here who places stock in HP pledges for "future plans" toward WebOS deserves to have the football yanked away from them in the nick of time YET AGAIN.

HP was going to stick this on PCs. And they were going to make netbooks. And they were going to do this and do that.

But CEOs change. Plans change. And when they've gotten enough distance from this debacle and are full-on in Windows 8 mode (and maybe with a new CEO), this, too, will change.

Just one time i'd have just kicked Lucy right in the **** whether the ball got pulled away or not.

It's still fun to see the circus folks around here get all excited though..lol

my guess is they will try to have it either as a dual boot on a tablet with windows 8 or they'll have it as an optional operating system sort of like when you buy a laptop and can pick if they ship it with linux.

As a side note i, and i have just seen this story, so i haven't read every single post or article yet, but i think this may be an indication, open source that is, that they could not get a buyer willing to pay a suitable price, which also may (or may not) be an indication of a lower level of interest in developing hardware for the OS by those companies. Then again, maybe they would be willing to take a shot on open sourced hardware down the road but not willing to pay for the whole company or whatever the asking price was. Partly because they've taking a 3.3 billion dollar loss so far and this doesn't really make any of it back. You know they want some of that back. So if they didn't take any money my guess is there was not enough offered on the table. just a comment rolling around in my head and an initial reaction to the open source news.

A dual-boot tablet of WebOS and Windows 8 would make as much sense as putting an Android tablet and printer together.

Which is to say, there's a 99 percent chance HP will do it....and fail.

Fail in the sense of what? That it won't make HP any more money and thus will fail from a business sense? If so well i totally agree. OR do you mean fail in that it doesn't work technically?

Regardless, i was of the opinion HP has almost always had bad management. HP never should have bought webos because they weren't capable (and honestly few companies were) of making it work because they didn't have the cash needed to endure or the creative mindset to make attractive consumer products. So i thought they were screwed from the outset. I thing Meg isn't a great exec or person and i've no clue if from a business sense she's making the right moves. But as i posted this may be sensible in that i keeps HP from throwing good money after bad.

How about putting and Android printer and a webos crossbow together?

In an earlier interview, Whitman talks about one of the greatest benefits of WebOS being a scalable, portable and synergistic platform. In this interview, she states that HP won't make smartphones again - in essence, rendering one of her self-proclaimed WebOS benefits, moot. Furthermore, if all that is made is tablets, then there will be a loss of a very promising WebOS feature of Touch to Share. However, if another phone manufacturer picks up WebOS, and thats a big "if," particularly in the short run, then no harm done.

I'm not trying to nitpick, but which point does "no smartphones" make moot? Tablets are portable. Laptops are portable. Scalable could mean from tablet to desktop. Synergistic would be to have all the same apps on all of those platforms.

Mind you, I'm not happy about the "no smartphones" thing, but I really do wonder if the whole wireless carrier aspect of smartphones is the problem.

Hmm....what if they decide to go no smartphone in the sense of the major carriers, but make a smaller device that runs WebOS and makes VOIP calls if you are connected to a wireless hotspot? Not as convenient as a cell phone, I realize, but it is something HP could easily do and then leave other hardware vendors to go after the smartphone business.

Is there a big enough market for that, though? I'd think an unlocked LTE phone might make more sense. Or maybe one device that can do both.

There might be a partnering arrangement worked out if someone does launch a new webOS phone. While it's a more involved situation than HP building both, it may be the best bet going.

That someone could possibly also buy whatever prototype phones/design models HP had when they cancelled webOS hardware--that could beat starting from scratch.

The upside is that webOS is alive, in the sense that it's not DEAD. In the hands of the community, webOS will undoubtedly be spruced up in ways that HP is unwilling to spend the time and money on.

But the most important thing that someone else already pointed out is that CEO's--and their plans--come and go. Just as much as a new CEO could ditch webOS, a new CEO could actually HAVE the vision to re-release webOS hardware on a grand Apple-esque scale.

And most of all, nothing is EVER set in stone (as what the past four to five months have taught us), and so for all we know the updates, tweeks and changes the open-source community make to webOS is enough to MAKE webOS better than iOS and AndroidOS to the degree that HP will realize "hey, maybe we SHOULD get back into the hardware business again in order to give this 'reborn' OS a home!"

Basically... It ain't over until it's over, and this recent development--as well as all the ideas going through our heads right now about where this step will take webOS--is proof enough that it still has a chance to turn it around.

I do, however, believe that IF webOS is going to help fill a niche that AndroidOS is currently filling (that is, installed on cheap $50 hardware), HP and the open-source community needs to figure out a way to make webOS sound/be the better choice over AndroidOS. But that should be pretty obvious.

Better they figure out how to hack it onto non- cheap hardware on a decent fashion. I'm sure ICS Android can be made to run on a G1 and I'm sure it sucks.

February 9, 2013 - A special post CES event - save the date!

How can we get HP to "Open Source" the designs for the TP-Go, the Pre3, and the Slab Phone they designed, but did not take to market?

I mean these (along with the Pre-, Pre Plus, Pre2 and TP) were not Manufactured by HP, buy by a Third company in China.

Right now I am using a Pre3 with a build date (according to Webos Quick Instal) of 9/11/12, that was made for ATT, who canceled their orders.

If we could get - I don't know, say Cincinnati Bell, or T-Moble to offer these phones, who knows? Maybe even Sprint or Big Red?

I totally agree. At the least, they should continue to sell unlock gsm version pre3 so that they keep some present in hardware! Making some deal with other carriers they had not pissed off shouldn't be that hard. They are not going to make any money on this, but they won't loose too much as the development are done and supply chain are set up. I don't think how a OS can survive without hardware for one year. The fates of PalmOS 6 (Cobalt) and Access's ALP are the painful reminder of OS w/o hardware.

While I'd be surprised for HP to make individual hardware products open source, (as I posted before), I'd like to see them partner with a phone maker who could purchase prototypes and reference designs for future devices.

New phone hardware startup, anyone?

Given the recent announcements from Google about getting into the Super Saver shipping business to compete with Amazon. It only seems logical that Amazon would dump Android. WebOS seems like the logical choice to replace Android on their tablet.

This again?!?


Now that webOS is opensource, big players like amazon can consider webOS. But at their own pace in 1-2 years. Not everyone who runs android really likes Google.

Amazon doesn't have to like Google. They need nothing from them and take almost nothing from them. If they ever decided to use WebOS, it would be dumbed down into a clone of the carousel UI, content-consumption OS they have now.

BTW, here is a good video which I think everyone should watch about what motivates people to do work (hint: it's NOT money):

RSA Animate - Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us
* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

Basically... HP and Meg probably realizes that they have a powerful OS on their hands AND a very passionate group of people in the webOS community. I also suspect that HP WANTS to have webOS be the "next iOS" or "next Android", but right now they are not in the position to do so.

Therefore, I think that HP wants the recent sudden changes that has happened over the past few months to "settle down" and have things "return to normal" before they dedicate themselves to anything new and radical again. This normally would mean that HP would stick with their "no hardware for webOS" plan, even if they disagree with it, simply because it IS the current status quo and to change it would require more radical changes that HP isn't willing to invest in at present (simply because they want things to settle down).

But by sticking with the status quo, that would mean webOS would be going nowhere, and they can't have that happen.... for if, for example, HP decides that it's ready to start up webOS hardware production again in 2014 or 2015, the would have a two to three year old OS on their hands and one that is completely incapable of being competitive in that market.

As such.... HP open-sourced webOS. By doing so, HP can remain with the status quo and allow things to settle down without doing anything new and radical, but at the same time HP can basically have the guarantee that webOS will continue to grow and evolve and become a competitive operating system during this "status quo settle down" because they trust the tanacity and willingness of the webOS community to make webOS perfect. And most of all, in the mean time webOS will be tested on a myriad of different hardware--smartphones, tablets, etc--by the community, thus saving HP the time and energy (and money) on testing it themselves.

This way, webOS version 5.0 will be released in 2014, in time for HP's latest decision (one made now that things have long since settled down and they are more willing to take new risks): webOS smartphones and tablets... hardware perfectly suited for webOS after the past two-and-a-half years worth of testing and tweeks.

....at least, this is what *I* think is happening!

Does this settling down period also include Apple, Google, and Microsoft holding up their plans, also? That's kind of like stopping in the middle of a race and saying "let's all take a break, here, OK?"

Hardware? In the coming years....

I'm mixed about this..
Knowing that webOS will be revived is great news ofcourse and even that my beloved TouchPad gets a new live, but I'm said that my great Pre3 smartphone will become useless at some point, since HP (Meg Whitman) said goodbye to the smartphone business. I wonder how much longer HP will keep up the HP3, which is a flagship smartphone..

But, but, but... I want a Pre 4! :'(

What they should do is give webOS a coat of silver,black and red, and ditch the webOS name in favor of something more appealing like maybe...Skynet...then launch a media event with cyborgs and flashes of humans in bondages....

Hmm, to me, Apple's Siri is closer to Skynet than webOS.

Meant slavery...where was my mind?

I can imagine that a consumer version of a new Slate 2 tablet could run WebOS instead of Win7. Architecture is the same so such os exchange should be really easy. And in my opinion Slate 2 is very well designed and has all this ports that TP is missing. I know that the concept was totally different but I personally really would like to have the possibility to connect TP to external monitor or projector. Just like I can with iPad. Maybe such touchstone docking station with all additional ports was something planned for the future?

I can not imagine that Win7 tablet is something that operates on a user friendly level as tablets / phones dedicated os.
HP Slate 2 with WebOS would be perfect for me and interesting move for HP.

jacenty from Poland

I think that if, right now, HP announces that they will indefinitely support the cloud infrastructure required to enable each and every WebOS devices paired with a given profile to be automatically sync'ed together, (at least as much as the app developers choose to utilize), data and apps, then WebOS has a compelling case, even against Android. Clients could not only be phones and tablets, but also virtual machine apps on any of my desktops, accessible from any browser, dual-boot on my netbook, etc. I want to play my Angry Birds from anywhere I am sitting.

Touch To Share can now be included in any smartphone or tablet hardware. Any bets as to whether THAT will happen? ;)

Dear Webos Internals,

Will you please work on getting webOS 3.xx to work on a newwer android or iphone slab phone??

We would love you long time and donate kindly :)

I miss webos sooo much! :(

I am so glad now that I picked up a Pre 3 (supplies are dwindling), it is awesome phone and it will keep my webOS fix satisfied for now and hopefully there will be some kind of webOS smartphone successor to replace it down the road.

How does the upcoming HTML-5 fit into this decision?


My pre-minus "was" 23 month old. Though my phone never oreo'd, early on I fixed the power button with a dot of glue, I learned to live with the type-and-miss keyboard, and ignored the chips and scratches. Prophetically, this morning, the charging flap with another chunk of plastic dropped to the floor.

I bought a double-life battery, lots of apps, and doctored the phone while waiting for the pre+,pre2,pre3 on Sprint that never arrived.

I like the idea of Android but it needs improved out-of-the-box (OOB) security, less junk apps OOB, os continuity, and better hardware in a small form factor. For me, the size of the pre was perfect and the iphone is bordering on too large.

Although I abhor having iTunes on my computer, think the OS is not as efficient as WebOS day-to-day, and wince at the high prices, features such a pretty-good camera, a decent shipping product with a relatively consistent product refresh cycle (hey, Microsoft - get with it...I couldn't wait any longer for you), durable hardware, decent customer service, and various "synergies" with the iPad and other 3rd party hardware had me almost won over but the roller coaster news cycle left me willing to wait it out. . .until this morning.

After reading Meg's latest announcement (which I applaud vs. other scenarios as a short term bridge to the future) I picked up my land line phone and ordered the iPhone 4s. I'll be back?

My pre- is still working on Sprint but I am 99% sure I will be cancelling. I now have an AT&T Pre3 on GoPhone and it's a joy. I don't use voice minutes, so 500MB for $25 is much cheaper than my Sprint plan. (When I need more voice for vacation, I have a pixi plus on Verizon/Page Plus.)

Moreover, Sprint's data network is becoming so bad in places, the iPhone is more like an iBrick...Don't dump WebOS, dump Sprint...

Johncase3 (Chuck Fan?),
Unfortunately, I need voice + data and Sprint happens to have better voice coverage in my area though data speeds are sloooow. With the 4s I'll miss tethering, have to wait for 4g, but I'll survive. Best of luck with your Pre3. . here's hoping a Pre4 with 4g comes out. Since the iPhone resale values are so high, switching back would not be problematic for me.

I already have a tablet! It's the phone I want now!

No smartphones? D:
well, i felt the same a while back "no pdas? D:"