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HP Businesses Handhelds

Inside the Death of Palm and WebOS 188

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-quoting-mark-twain dept.
SomePgmr writes with this excerpt from an article at The Verge: "Thirty-one. That's the number of months it took Palm, Inc. to go from the darling of International CES 2009 to a mere shadow of itself, a nearly anonymous division inside the HP machine without a hardware program and without the confidence of its owners. Thirty-one months is just barely longer than a typical American mobile phone contract. Understanding exactly how Palm could drive itself into irrelevance in such a short period of time will forever be a subject of Valley lore."
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Inside the Death of Palm and WebOS

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  • But that's ok... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @02:37PM (#40235633)
    ...because the CEO of Palm walked away a rich man. And that's all that matters to businesses these days.
  • And now RIM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gbr (31010) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @02:39PM (#40235649) Homepage

    The same thing is happening to Research In Motion.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @02:54PM (#40235857) Homepage

    "It all comes down to mutton-headed managers making bad decisions"

    This is actually the problem with all companies...

    RIM is suffering that one. Nokia is about to slide down that slope with it's Mutton-Headed CEO.
    Microsoft is survived it's current Mutton Head simply because it has giant trucks full of money.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @02:56PM (#40235893)

    Greed too. Hire a CEO or manager who is incompetent (e.g. Carly Fiona) or simply willing to gut a company for personal gain (e.g. Carly Fiona) and its eventual destruction is assured.

  • Re:And now RIM (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @03:09PM (#40235997)

    And soon Facebook.

  • by MightyYar (622222) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @03:15PM (#40236085)

    I think Palm's death was very similar to Amiga's death.

    Both had... interesting... marketing, but that's not what I'm talking about.

    Both Palm and Amiga used some very clever hardware and software tricks to do something that no one else could do at the time. Unfortunately, their solution was very hardware-dependent and could not be moved to the more advanced technology that their competitors started to use without completely killing backward compatibility or running a resource-chomping compatibility layer (chomping both hardware resources and engineering resources) that their competitors did not have to deal with. By the time each learned to just cut the cord, or by the time the state-of-the-art progressed to the point where simple emulation worked well, it was too late - the moment where they had a special capability passed.

  • by recoiledsnake (879048) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @03:25PM (#40236183)

    It is not enough to just make a great OS , you need the ecosystem with hundreds of thousands of apps, retail presence, the buzz factor in the marketplace etc. etc. Miss any one and you're toast in the Post-PC world led by Apple.

    WebOS is(was?) a great OS and the UX is MUCH better than Android (Google hired the WebOS team, so lets see what happens, Android design is all over the place right now). But if people don't even know that, how can they even consider the UX? They look at someone's iPhone and want one themselves that runs "Draw Something' so they can play it with friends.

    The hardware was not too bad (I have a Touchpad that I loaded ICS on for apps). It was too expensive to compete with the iPad(Apple was able to keep it low with economies of scale and supply chain management) so it didn't make sense for people to buy a new platform with a few apps when for the same amount of money you could get an iPad or iPhone. Unlike Android, WebOS was tied to only HP/Palm's h/w.

    That's why Windows Phone is struggling even with MS's push behind it, a nice Metro UI and Nokia's great h/w(though it overtook Blackberry and WebOS with a 100K apps available now) and RIM is all but finished even if their upcoming BB10(based on QNX) is leaps and bounds ahead of BB7. It has to have exclusive killer features or apps to succeed in this dog-eat-dog world. In line to die are AMD(Apple doesn't care about them), T-Mobile(no iPhone), Nokia(unless Windows 8 tablets and WP8 save them), HTC(doing badly these days) and some of the PC OEMs(most of them are doing badly thanks to the iPad).

    So the CEO did really make a great OS with dev friendly dev tools(RIM usually makes TERRIBLE dev tools), but failed at the marketing and buzz factor. The fact that he walked away a rich man doesn't really matter to understand why WebOS failed.

  • Re:And now RIM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Patch86 (1465427) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @03:48PM (#40236433)

    BlackBerrys used to be so popular, there was a time (just a couple of years ago) that it was unheard of for any CEO or politician worth their salt not to have one. Or several. They used to be called "crackberries" because of how popular they were. They were considered so tippity top of the line that their main competitors (such as Nokia) mad their best smartphone money with straight up BlackBerry clones.

    Their current products look dated compared with the rivals that are killing them- but that's not because of inherently bad design, it's because they're designing products that look and feel like they're from a previous decade.

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @03:59PM (#40236531)

    not true. I just bought an hp15c (they are going fast, get one soon if you want one!) and even though I have an android 'phone', it sucks and touch screens, uhm, well, they blow goats (to put it in a colorful way).

    yes, there are lots of 'apps' for phones. so what. they all use that aweful touchscreen and have no local buttons of any real sort. cheap to make phones like that, very general purpose but its not USABLE in any tactile sense.

    I think I learned my lesson. my next phone will be a button phone, non-smart and simple.

    and when I reach for a calc, I grab a real physical one. or, if I'm on a computer, I just echo stuff to 'bc' and at least I have a real keyboard when I do that!

    my prediction: touch screens will fade in interest and we will return to button pads some time in the future. we will have learned our lesson and the fad will have faded. TS's are sexy but they are BAD to use. admit it.

  • by arth1 (260657) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @04:18PM (#40236727) Homepage Journal

    For kids who don't know what a PDA is/was, its basically was a smartphone that can't make phone calls. Since I almost never talk on my current phone (only a couple minutes in the last 6 months, seriously), its basically a PDA anyway.

    Except for the lack of graffiti and a battery life measured in hours insted of weeks.

  • Hubris (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vakuona (788200) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @05:16PM (#40237347)

    The death of most companies can be traced down to a single word...hubris.

    Some of these are paraphrased quotations.

    “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”

    "The one thing that Apple provides leadership in is colours"

    "Right now we are selling millions and millions and millions of phones a year, and Apple is selling zero phones a year"

    "I left RIM back in 2006 just months before the iPhone launched and I remember talking to friends from RIM and Microsoft about what their teams thought about it at the time. Everyone was utterly shocked. RIM was even in denial the day after the iPhone was announced with all hands meets claiming all manner of weird things about iPhone: it couldn’t do what they were demonstrating without an insanely power hungry processor, it must have terrible battery life, etc. Imagine their surprise when they disassembled an iPhone for the first time and found that the phone was [a] battery with a tiny logic board strapped to it. It was ridiculous, it was brilliant."

    "I don't think that what we have seen so far (from Apple) is something that would any way necessitate us changing our thinking when it comes to openness, our software and business approach," Nokia Chief Executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo told a conference call with analysts.

    The reason companies fail is that they don't challenge their beliefs in their way of operating. They don't seem to realise that they are where they are with a large helping of luck, and that they could easily fall by the wayside. The list of mobile phone makers who fell by the wayside is 2000's who's who of the entire mobile phone industry. Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia, Siemens, Alcatel etc. Only Nokia survives as an industry giant and it is struggling, attacked on all ends by the likes of Samsung, Apple, HTC and hordes of Chinese companies.

    The motto is evolve or die. The Apple of today heeded that lesson. That is not to say hubris won't get them. It always does, sooner or later.

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @06:49PM (#40238337) Journal

    Which is why Tim Cook is CEO of Apple. You gotta give the man credit, he went out and signed up deals before mobile became hot locking them into multiyear contracts to ensure they got the parts they needed at a set price. As we can see it was a damned smart move and has helped Apple keep their supply lines humming while everyone else had to scramble. just a damned smart business decision on his part.

    As for Palm that's simple, because HP could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory thanks to bad management and a crappy board, that's why. We've seen similar totally dumbshit moves from plenty of big corps, like MSFT killing playsforsure which had become a very successful and growing market which gave people a reason to use their OS, all so Ballmer could pretend he was CEO of Apple by rebranding a Toshiba Gigabeat and making it shit brown to boot.

    Palm like many corps rested on its laurels until it was damned near too late, hell one could argue it already WAS too late, and then when they finally had a decent product sold to a lumbering corp that was being run by PHBs and thought like Ballmer with Zune that simply slapping their name on someone else's product would back up the money truck, well it didn't.

    The only reason Apple could pull it off was they had a dynamic CEO with good taste that thought like a consumer, most of these corps are so up to their ass with market studies and powerpoints and focus groups they couldn't spot a trend if someone drew them a picture with giant arrows pointing towards it. Whether Cook will be able to spot new markets like Jobs did is the big question mark but if Palm would have kept innovating instead of repackaging the same old crap once they got on top they would probably still be here today. I have a feeling RIM and Nokia will be joining them soon enough as both have fallen behind the curve and in the fast paced world of tech once you are behind its hell to catch up, much less get back ahead of everyone else. That was the problem with palm in a nutshell, by the time they realized they couldn't just keep reselling the old OS the mobile world had passed them by.

  • by samoanbiscuit (1273176) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @10:04PM (#40239883)

    Also the fact that it supported iTunes was basically saying that it was just a cheap rip-off of apples os.

    Oh my god. This sounds like something written on an engadget comment thread. I agree it was a bad move, because they were reliant on Apple's goodwill (i.e, none at all) to keep it functioning, they were relying on a third party service where they got none of the revenue from, also they were providing a feature that was likely to be unreliable and make them look amateur. But no, that doesn't make WebOS seem like a cheap rip-off of iOS, if anything, iOS 5 and Android 4 show lot of features the were inspired by WebOS.

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