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

      by SomePgmr (2021234) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @03:02PM (#40235953) Homepage

      It's a significantly better story than that, with lots of money and talent tied up in it. Really smart people, some real assholes, some serious bad luck, and Apple cutting you off at every turn.

      I know it's a long article, but it was really interesting.

      • It's no wonder only the asian manufacturers are keeping up (or at least trying to) with Apple on all fronts at once. Apparently to get good tablet screens (or any other mobile parts), you need to be Apple, or willing to finance building the extra factory because Apple has it's parts orders locked down for years ahead.
        • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> 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.

          • 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.

            I agree with everything you said except this because a lot of companies have found themselves in this position, and some of them (namely Apple and Intel) have managed to dig themselves out. Not that I have much hope for RIM or Nokia, but don't count them out till the fat lady sings. The Lumia 900 was a decent piece of hardware, and... I'm trying to think of something awesome RIM has done lately, and can't... Lol.

            • by hairyfeet (841228)

              But in the case of Apple the ENTIRE REASON they went to shit is they fired the one guy there that had the skills and replaced him with a cola salesman, with predictable results. And i don't know how you could put intel on that list since they basically bribed their way out of failure by making the POS netburst arch the bigger seller over a clearly better product by simply locking the competition out of the market. intel was NEVER behind as far as money because they simply used their large cash hoard to ensu

      • It wasn't just Apple doing the cutting-off.

        If that story is fully true, then Mercer is the main source of blame, coupled with the completely dick move by Verizon (promising a huge marketing campaign and massive purchases at a critical juncture, then quickly shifting to Droid and pretending Palm didn't exist).

        OTOH, Verizon is a known quantity/quality - they're dicks, and everyone inside and outside of the industry knows that. That leaves Mercer - a classic example of being too much in love with his initial i

        • Not exactly a Palm fan here, but I do like the idea and the (albeit half-assed due to time constraint) implementation they had with making the UI HTML-based. I wonder what could be done with that now, considering HTML 5 is complete enough to be useful...

          They were the first to bet on HTML5 as the UI layer for touch devices, but they're not the last [microsoft.com].

          • BB 10, Tizen, Boot to Gecko, etc.

            • Well, Tizen and BtG are pretty much vaporware as far as actual hardware is concerned - or at least I don't expect to see them there anytime soon.

              BB10, though, yes, that's another one. It's interesting how it's those who are playing catch-up who focus on HTML5 for apps. I think that for both MS and RIM, it's really not about the advantages of technology as such, but rather an attempt to grab the attention of as many developers as possible to target their platforms with minimal training. For myself, I'd take

      • Well a lot of Apple Cutting Palm off was because Palm wasn't always playing by the rules.
        We have seem to forgot the iTunes fiasco. Where the Web OS in essence hacked its software to make iTunes think it is an iPod so you had iPod compatibility, without Apples permission. Such a hack is clever and cool for the normal hacker, because this was all fine and good, and the fact this wouldn't be used for profit. But the same hack by Palm, was very dirty playing, first being that is was a hack not a partner ship

        • 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.

    • 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.

      • by maccodemonkey (1438585) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @05:53PM (#40237723)

        (Google hired the WebOS team, so lets see what happens, Android design is all over the place right now)

        They hired the Enyo team, not the WebOS team. Enyo is a web framework, and reports indicate those employees were put into the Chrome team, not the Android team.

        Google did pick up a few WebOS employees, most notably WebOS's UI designer, but that happened well before even Android 3.0.

        • They hired the Enyo team, not the WebOS team. Enyo is a web framework, and reports indicate those employees were put into the Chrome team, not the Android team.

          The second distinction (Chrome v. Android) may be less significant that it appears on casual inspection, given Google's oft-stated (and increasingly frequently stated) plan to converge ChromeOS and Android.

        • Google did pick up a few WebOS employees, most notably WebOS's UI designer, but that happened well before even Android 3.0

          And you can certainly see quite a few webOS influences in Honeycomb and ICS. Like the new notification drawer and task switcher, where you swipe things out to remove them. Or Chrome beta for Android, where tabs work a lot like webOS cards.

    • Sad but true. It's why we now see meg whitman gutting HP. Makes me sad and sick :(
  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And soon Facebook.

    • by evilviper (135110)

      Actually, RIM is probably going to stick around, as a solid third-place platform. BB10 (BBX) is just around the corner, and many of the features coming will (finally) get them comparable with iPhone/Android.

      And besides phones, QNX has a solid market in in-car systems, and other embedded systems, guaranteeing at least another DECADE of life to come.

      • I don't think so. Right now, RIM is less than the sum of its parts. The patents, in particular, have a substantial market value. The company is now actively losing money, instead of making less money year-over-year. The longer they wait to split it up, the more cash the company will burn through before the end. There is no ending I see with RIM still being a going concern in 5 years. QNX will get spun off again, or sold to someone like Intel (who aquired WindRiver as well, another RTOS maker), or Gree
        • by evilviper (135110)

          The company is now actively losing money, instead of making less money year-over-year.

          That tends to happen when next-gen products are being developed, but haven't hit market yet...

          The longer they wait to split it up, the more cash the company will burn through before the end.

          Or the BB10 launch will turn everything around...

          Or maybe it won't, they'll see that they aren't going to turn it around, and they'll back into a maintenance mode, shed all the huge costs, and get back into profitability that way.

      • Agreed, but only for as long as it takes enterprises to start dumping their BES servers and start looking for alternatives with the same level of reliability, lock-down ability, and security.

      • by brunes69 (86786)

        I'll take that bet.

        As much as I hate to say it - both because I'm a Canadian and I actually know several people who work at RIM - RIM is doomed. They are going to lose "third place" to Windows Phone this year, and will never gain it back.

        • by evilviper (135110)

          I'll take that bet.

            They are going to lose "third place" to Windows Phone this year, and will never gain it back.

          I'm thinking of a major telecommunications company who are betting significant amounts of money that you're wrong... I'm sure they're betting vastly larger sums than you could cover.

  • ...ubiquitous as pocket calculators (as was remarked years ago by other Slashdotters) but the drive to change/fuck with their product ensured that would never happen.

    • by Kenja (541830)
      Pocket what? Only calculator people have in their pockets these days is an app.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        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, n

        • by Jeng (926980)

          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.

          There are nice smartphones out there with a real physical keyboard. They are getting harder to find because few purchase them, but a few do still exist.

        • 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.

          The market has spoken and you choose not to hear.

          Dedicated keyboards on smartphones are never again going to lead the market. It's over. Dedicate keyboards won't disappear altogether, but you won't see them dominating the form factor. Bank on it.

          Sort of stunning how you blithely ignore the empirical evidence of people voting with their dollars. Good thing you're not in charge of a smartphone company! FWIW, I like my iPhone's touch screen just fine; it's actually the physical buttons that annoy me.

          • by narcc (412956) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @05:56PM (#40237759) Journal

            Dedicated keyboards on smartphones are never again going to lead the market. It's over.

            Outside of "flagship" phones, phones with slide-out keyboards are becoming increasingly popular, especially among women.

            Sort of stunning how you blithely ignore the empirical evidence of people voting with their dollars.

            Touch screens are just the current fashion. Remember pen computing? That lost out to RIM's brilliant screen+keyboard smart phones. Touch screens were in, out, now they're in again -- just like every other fashion.

            Current touch screens, as others have pointed out, have serious short-comings. They're not the future, they're the present. 10 years from now, we'll have something better and we'll all wonder what collective insanity made us want to use an all-touch interface in the first place.

            Two recent innovations that attempt to overcome the usability nightmare that is the capacitive touchscreen include the Galaxy Note and the Bold 9900. The Bold keeps the incredibly good physical keyboard and trackpad for tasks that are better served by those input methods and offers a touchscreen on top for the few tasks that are well served by finger-fondling. The Galaxy Note gives users a stylus for precision work; absolutely brilliant for jotting quick notes and tasks that require precision (think working with text, hitting small targets on websites, etc.) The Note is optimized for two-handed use, the Bold for single-handed use.

            I expect both approaches to find their way in to competing handsets over the next few years. I'll make my prediction to counter yours: The all-touch UI fad will be dead in 5 years and replaced with interfaces that don't sacrifice usability for the illusion of 'ease of use' -- they'll actually be easier to use.

    • Doubt it. They were this great fad in the late nineties, and then died out as soon as people realized how useless and impractical the form factor was.

      Expect the iPad to go the same way.

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        Expect the iPad to go the same way.

        You may not be able to use an iPad extensively for "work", but I can't see the form factor going anywhere.

        Everybody I know with a tablet (no matter who makes it) is using it to surf the web, watch movies, listen to music, read eBooks ... stuff like that. They're not using it to write code or manage servers. Which is what most users do most of the time anyway; they're just watching You Tube videos.

        When I travel on business, my iPad sees far more use than my laptop. Check

        • Everybody I know with a tablet (no matter who makes it) is using it

          Somehow I doubt that.

          Most people I know, including me, who have tablets are dusting them off once in a while, realizing they're useless, and then leaving them until the next time.

          Yes, there are loud exceptions. Yes, there were the (largely in marketing, for some reason) people I knew who wouldn't be seen dead without their Palm Pilot and loudly told everyone how dependent they were on the damned things. But you guys really are in the m

          • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @04:37PM (#40236945) Homepage

            Somehow I doubt that.

            Doubt it all you like. I can vouch for the fact that I still use mine a lot after two years.

            Most people I know, including me, who have tablets are dusting them off once in a while, realizing they're useless, and then leaving them until the next time.

            Well, the people I know who own tablets aren't for the most part die-hard techies, or mostly just not interested in fiddling with technology if they don't have to. They also tend to be 40+.

            It's only people here on Slashdot I hear saying this, and unfortunately, we as a group tend to be completely incapable of seeing the world in any other way than as a geek who wants to ssh into a server. You might discover that the vast majority of people use computers differently than you do.

            While I haven't been to an airport in years, I've been to numerous hotels and not seen a single tablet user.

            When I travel on business, I tend to be smack in the middle of the business district, in an upmarket hotel mostly used by business travelers.

            My experience is more like seeing 2-3 iPads in the hotel lobby/bar in the evenings, a couple of people on the plane watching movies, and usually 1-2 waiting at the gate at the airport. Not as many as people with laptops, but definitely not an empty set. Being able to flop my iPad onto the bar in the lobby and check my email, look up a restaurant, check the news ... all of which you can do with a laptop, but in a lighter package.

            Feel free to believe anything you want about tablets and if people will buy them. But as someone who owns a tablet, and knows at least half a dozen other people who have tablets, they get used, but they get used differently.

            Hell, the main thing my wife uses her BB Playbook for is google from the living room when we're talking about stuff and want to pull up a quick browser. Whip it out, do a quick search, put it back on the coffee table.

            My personal favorite was keeping my work webmail open in a browser, while I was sitting in the backyard in the sunshine. Pick it up every now and then to see if you've got email.

            For those of us who don't own smart phones, a tablet has a lot of use, just not for the same kinds of things as I'd use my desktop or laptop for.

        • by Sporkinum (655143)

          That's the funny thing about HP touchpads. The exact same thing is applicable since most users use the devices the way you said. Except the Touchpad only cost $150 on blowout. Ever since my wife got hers, she hardly uses her desktop anymore. Heck, she doesn't use her nook any more either. She uses the nook and kindle apps on the Touchpad.

          • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @04:53PM (#40237131) Homepage

            That's the funny thing about HP touchpads. The exact same thing is applicable since most users use the devices the way you said.

            You'll notice I said "no matter who makes it" -- I'm talking about the generic idea of a tablet, not a specific product.

            My brother has a cheap ass Android, my wife and a few friends have BB Playbooks, I know people who bought the HP one, and I think one or two have Samsung tablets.

            It's the form factor I'm talking about here. They all give you the same kind of functionality. A fondleslab with internet access, and the ability to play videos and the like.

            In all cases, the people who I know who use their tablets largely don't use it the way you'd use a desktop, and aren't going around saying how they can't update the quarterly spreadsheets with it or file the TPS reports. They're passively consuming stuff instead of creating it.

            • by Sporkinum (655143)

              Agreed. It is a consumption device. I think the folks that think they need an IPad or IPhone or some other Apple branded device don't realize that other other ones do a fine job for 99% of what they want. BTW, I have a nook color running CM7 that we keep next to the TV for looking up stuff while we are watching. Nook colors can be had for around $100 (though you have to be a nerd to run Android on it). On the phone side, she has a simple pre-paid flip phone, and mine is a work provided Blackberry.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @02:50PM (#40235811)

    Commodore was once the #1 selling computer of 1983, 84, 85, 86. A mere seven years later it ran out of cash and filed for bankruptcy (and the new #1 computer was the IBM PC). It all comes down to mutton-headed managers making bad decisions, whether it happened in the 80s with Commodore or the Present with PalmOS.

    Other companies that were once number one were Radio Shack with the TRS-80. Atari with its VCS/2600 console and Atari 800 computer (but went bankrupt). The perpetually third place Apple (1977-1995) flirted with death due to a lot of bad management decisions. Steve Jobs: "When I became CEO in mid-1997, we were only two months from bankruptcy. We were running out of cash." Until Bill Gates bought stuck and gave them extra liquidity to pay their bills. Maybe Microsoft can now save Palm??? (Doubt it.)

    • 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 rabtech (223758) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @03:19PM (#40236113) Homepage

        Microsoft is survived it's current Mutton Head simply because it has giant trucks full of money.

        That may be partially true but I think it has more to do with Bill's philosophy of hiring A-level people (who hire other A people, whereas B people hire C, D, etc). He also pushed hard for an own-it management style - if you were in charge of some area then he let you get on with it. Management interference was kept to a minimum.

        It takes a long time to strangle the culture out of an organization and that seems to be slowly taking place at Microsoft.

        It remains to be seen if Apple can continue in the long term but it has one thing most others in that situation don't - the original visionary came back and rescued the company, followed by success after success. That visionary also faced his own failures and matured as a person and manager (compare Steve Jobs terror stories pre-departure and his management style after returning).

    • by styrotech (136124)

      Commodore was once the #1 selling computer of 1983, 84, 85, 86. A mere seven years later it ran out of cash and filed for bankruptcy (and the new #1 computer was the IBM PC). It all comes down to mutton-headed managers making bad decisions, whether it happened in the 80s with Commodore or the Present with PalmOS.

      Also, didn't Palm end up owning what was left of the Amiga at one point?

  • 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.

    • But what does Carly Fiorina have to do with how Palm failed? Directly I mean. It seems like Apotheker was the primary incompetence vendor meeting the needs of Palm and HP's consumer facing divisions.
      • by idontgno (624372)
        The affect of prior incompetent leadership is debatable and indirect. The only speculative link I can come up with is a combination of lowered expectations (i.e., the board might be willing to hire a near-total clinker for CEO because he's still an improvement) and reduced recruiting leverage (smart candidates know enough to avoid that sinking ship, except for the borderline-pathological "turnaround specialist" types whose general business style strongly resembles corporate vivisection).
      • Before Carly's time, HP was run by engineers. People who knew how to design and build things. Carly gutted the engineering staff, where today HP doesn't have the people to design anything.
    • I agree. HP used to make printers that just worked. Now, 99% of their printers are just junk and I no longer recommend them or use them, The downfall started on Carly's watch.
  • I had a Pre, and and loved the OS. It was a work of art, and I still think it's more intuitive than anything else available today. Unfortunately, Palm cheaped out on the hardware. The phone scratched at anything more than a gentle breeze, and the plastic began falling apart in a couple of weeks let alone 2 long years. Had Palm worked with HTC to put Web OS on some decent options, the company might be in an entirely different place today.

    • Honestly, WebOS still stacks up pretty well(except for application availability obviously) with Android despite having stagnated while Google was sprinting for quite a few months now. I'm not sufficiently familiar with iOS to comment on that.
    • They didn't "cheap out" on the hardware so much as they couldn't buy any of the top drawer stuff because Apple and the Android makers had already placed their orders, and HP didn't have the faith in them to invest in making their own factories. No wonder Microsoft is sticking to Nokia like a zebra mussel, Nokia might have fallen from grace now, but they are the original masters of the mobile phone form factor. Poor Meego, and poor WebOS. Why must the awesome yet minority-share OS always suffer?
  • Used OS/2, Maemo and WebOS, had the same kind of fate.
  • by spaceyhackerlady (462530) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @03:15PM (#40236077)

    An outfit I used to work for had a go at doing peripherals for Palms, back in the Palm Pilot days. I found the devices amusing, so I bought a newer Palm to play with, one of their ARM-based Tungsten units.

    I found the general design of the unit to be good. Decent graphics, good selection of applications, the handwriting recognition basically worked. I had a go at writing my own apps for it, using the free gcc-based toolchain. Again, it basically worked. The programming environment was idiosyncratic, but mobile devices always are.

    What killed it for me was the shocking battery life. With the fun bonus that since all your apps and data were in RAM, if the battery went dead, you lost everything.

    Sigh...

    ...laura

    • by evilviper (135110)

      What killed it for me was the shocking battery life. With the fun bonus that since all your apps and data were in RAM, if the battery went dead, you lost everything.

      But that was true for ALL similar PDAs back in those days... The battery life for anything with a color screen was under 3 hours, which is one reason I loved my black & white Psion 5mx with 1 month of battery life on a pair of AA batteries... And a CR2032 backup battery was the only thing keeping your data safe on any PDA of the time.

      In tr

    • That's ancient history; back in the PalmOS4 days. Palm's were great then, but they were engineered for 90s hardware and didn't scale well to leverage naughts technology. That's how Windows CE caught up. Not by being a better OS, but being a slow, crummy OS that was properly positioned when hardware caught up with its requirements.

      WebOS was a different beast.

  • by TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @03:34PM (#40236309)

    Palm's problem was with their Palm Pilot and the trickle roll-out of upgrades they offered. I remember seeing "new generations" of Palm Pilots being released with nothing more then 4 more mb of RAM, all specs and even style of the handset was identical to those a year ago. While competitors like Microsoft offered color screens and support for music (way before iPod), Palm stuck with black and white screens and no multi-media support for several generations. When they finally offere color screens and music support, it was almost grudgingly done.

    Then when the iPod came out Palm did little to offer enhanced music support. Their one change to create something better then the iPod, LifeDrive, was the final nail in the coffin of an incompetent company that could not innovate and compete to save their lives.

    When they finally dumped their hardware group and went OS only, their efforts were lazy and inefficient. It is almost laughable to assume that PalmOS could have even stood up to iOS or Android. PalmOS was killed off while those OS'es were only in their infancy.

    Palm is simply an example of a company that created the "darling" product for a given generation and then got lazy and arrogant. In spite of disrupters in their industry (such as Windows CE and iPod), Palm remained steady on a course to oblivion by assuming their name alone will drive sales.

    BTW, RIM is in EXACTLY the same condition as Palm was, having created the "IT" product of the late 90', early 00's and then resting on their laurels while the mobile market changed dramatically around them.

    There is no mystery why Palm failed just as their is no mystery as to why Rim is failing. You can't maintain success without continued innovation; the moment you assume you have ample market penetration, the moment you assume your name alone will sell a new generation of product, the moment you dismiss disrupters ad "trifling" competitors and then strive to catch up to them, you are dead in this industry.

    • Nice summary.

      It seems tech companies constantly need to keep innovating or slowly be made irrelevant by your competition.

  • I'm still rockin' an unlocked gsm pre2 on straight talk, though. The OS is great. The homebrew community is amazing. And linux is easily accessible, no jailbreak. A shame developers have abandoned it, so we have to limp along with existing applications, but it does all that I need for the forseeable future. I moved from ATT to Sprint to get the original. FrankenPre'd the pre2 for sprint, then unfrankenpre'd it to move to straight talk for $45 a month.

    My only gripe is WebOS 2.x bluetooth sucks hard com

    • by P-niiice (1703362)
      I enjoyed webos when I didn't know better. I really liked it. but I've tasted Android, and that's all over. WebOS is a really nice second-tier OS for those who don't want ios or android. It's great.
  • the ability to "fling" apps up off the screen to close them, and to see multiple running apps at a glance. I thought things were suppose to get better. I still keep my pre for some reason, I miss using it.
    • by jschottm (317343)

      You might find buying an Android 4 phone/tablet easier than committing a felony. Except you flight things to the right and they're properly spaced out so you don't end up accidentally closing the wrong thing like in WebOS.

  • by CHK6 (583097) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @04:43PM (#40237017)
    I wonder what fate WebOS and the HP tablet/smart phone could have been if Mark Hurd didn't well find himself in a situtation with Jodie Fisher. Mark Hurd made HP the largest player in the PC market and was in my mind moments away from erasing Carly Fiorina's skid mark smudge. Then like any really good car crash scene, a blind side hit that literally spun the company around on it's axis. HP had the option to keep the plans that Mark Hurd laid out and kept the massive SS HP going with a vision. But like many crash victims, dazed and confused, HP board of directors showed how truely imcomponent they are. And now HP has no smart phones, no tablets, barely hung on to PSG, slashed its stock value in half, and a lame duck CEO.

    Thank you Jodie Fisher and Mark Hurd for your stellar performance in crippling a company and delivering the death blow to Palm and the crippling blow to HP.
  • 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.

  • I remember when WebOS was a darling of the internet chatter. But even at the time it all looked very shaky. The product was rushed to market. They company didn't quite have the resources to push it out firmly enough, even in the US, let alone the rest of the world. Apple was biting at their heals. Palm finances were very dodgy. If a bigger company had the product at the time with enough resources to really push it, it might have survived and thrived. But the whole thing just didn't have enough momentum in t

  • by morrison (40043) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @06:49PM (#40238335) Homepage

    I used to love Palm until they became the company that acquired, sat on, and ultimately squandered BeOS. Good riddance and hopefully the door smacks your ass on your way out.

    At least now there's open source darling Haiku.

  • Somehow the market seems to be a rather late noticing when platforms die. It was clear in the early 2000's that PalmOS was a dying platform and Palm should have started moving to Linux right away.

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