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

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.