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HP Businesses Handhelds

Inside the Death of Palm and WebOS 188

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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  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @03:01PM (#40235939)

    They hit the ball out of the park with the Palm III back in 97, and they couldn't shake off the success. That's why everything they did, right up till the '10s, was right outta the 90s. Palm is like the middle aged person reminiscing about how high school was the pinnacle of their existence and not doing anything since then, while everyone else passes them by.

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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.
  • 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 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.

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