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August 18, 2011 12:48 PM   Subscribe

HP killing WebOS and getting out of the computer business.

Here's the full press release.
posted by blue_beetle (169 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Does this mean they'll release some of the patents on the GUI? Because I really really liked the cards and app juggling on my Pre and would like to seen that implemented somewhere. More likely though they'll just kill it or sell it to some other marginalized company who will waste it.
posted by Godspeed.You!Black.Emperor.Penguin at 12:52 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fail fast as they say.
posted by GuyZero at 12:52 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


If it wasn't for Stéphane Missier, this would be the difecta exacta of "I am totally not surprised that that company totally ruined what was previously a very promising and/or successful business."
posted by Plutor at 12:53 PM on August 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


They've already slashed the price of their new tablet twice. It seemed rather adrift before it even hit the shelves. As for their business PCs, my VAR talked me into buying a batch two years ago and I kind of regretted that. They look like something made in the late 1980s--really junky and chintzy.

Anyway, if they cut the price of the tablet further I might buy a few just for some of my users to have something to play with. It's not bad, just not very good either.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:56 PM on August 18, 2011


The only person I know that had a Web OS phone was the 60ish year old Sys Admin at my company.

I had used it before and it's a damn shame that it never had a chance to be something.
posted by wcfields at 12:57 PM on August 18, 2011


And to think, none of this would have been possible without the visionary leadership of Carly Fiorina.

Never seen a WebOS device, but I generally heard more complimentary things about WebOS than Android.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:57 PM on August 18, 2011 [13 favorites]


All 30 people who wanted a WebOS tablet and don't already have an iOS or Android device will be crushed.
posted by zippy at 12:58 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Food for thought: the Touchpad had a shorter life than Cop Rock.
posted by brain_drain at 12:58 PM on August 18, 2011 [24 favorites]


They tried to complete with the much more established Apple and Google without clear advantages or significantly lower prices.

I'm a WebOS diehard. I still use my original Palm Pre, and I've been dying for something great from WebOS. But when I looked at a Touchpad even I thought "Why would I buy this over the cheaper and more popular Android tablets or the much more popular (in terms of users and apps) iPad?" The answer was, I wouldn't, and neither would anyone else, apparently.
posted by oddman at 12:59 PM on August 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


HP killing WebOS and getting out of the computer PC business.

HP has a massive enterprise systems division. They're only dumping the computing devices that an end-user might ever touch.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 1:01 PM on August 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


WebOS will go down in history as the BeOS of phones and tablets. A great system that had real advantages over its contemporaries, but never gained enough traction to make it viable.
posted by oddman at 1:01 PM on August 18, 2011 [22 favorites]


Damn. Can't say I'm surprised, but it's a shame. WebOS was really neat.

Their PCs sucked though, so good riddance to that.
posted by kmz at 1:02 PM on August 18, 2011


Yeah, HP still makes decent server products.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 1:02 PM on August 18, 2011


I have a friend who has a pre phone and loves it... except it's buggy and he hates that part. Shame. It looked like WebOS had real promise. I'm an Apple user, but precisely because I want to keep Apple healthy, I want to see real competition. Monocultures are not healthy. I fervently wish for WebOS to somehow survive and thrive, but it's looking increasingly depressing. I'm even cheering on Microsoft's efforts on the phone, much as I generally dislike their corporate culture. Ugh. This is not good news, though I suppose it was inevitable... WebOS has been sick for a long, long time.
posted by VikingSword at 1:02 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


HP will also spin off its PC unit.

The FPP is misleading. There will still be HP PCs to stink up the PC market, don't you all worry your little heads.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 1:06 PM on August 18, 2011


Well, technically they're killing WebOS devices. But who's going to want to make devices for what looks like a dead platform, no matter how awesome it is (remember BeOS?)?

So I guess I'll have to stop holding my breath for a Pre3 (and WebOS 2.x, too. Thanks for rushing that out to us, carriers!). Since I won't install iTunes, I guess I'm going Android. What's a decent GSM Android device? I don't need much, but one thing I do need is tethering. And hopefully tethering that a) doesn't kill the battery (either while plugged in to a laptop or a wall; pre gradually discharges even while hooked up to a laptop) b) isn't too hard to get to (I am not a 1337 hacker for more difficult jailbreaking). I'm on AT&T but don't mind an unlocked device.

I'm not looking to buy right away, but I feel weird not knowing what my next phone is, just in case. I don't mind if that "next phone" changes from time to time. I know new phones are coming. What's the best device for the price in the short term?

(Yes, I realize this isn't Ask. Please feel free to MeMail me. I just wanted to commiserate with fellow Pre owners/Palm faithful.)
posted by Eideteker at 1:08 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another WebOS refugee here. I was a long-time Palm user, bought a Pre on release day. The OS was great, the hardware...not so much. And Palm floundered, and courted buyers, and ended up with...HP? Whose CEO immediately commented that they didn't buy Palm to make smartphones?

Things were downhill from there. I held on for a while, but when HP announced they would be killing the PalmOS emulator (and taking several apps I depended on with it), it was time to go.

I ended up on Android, but I still miss some of the features of WebOS. It's a shame that it ended up killed by poor management.
posted by bitmage at 1:08 PM on August 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


> There will still be HP PCs to stink up the PC market, don't you all worry your little heads.

Well, it will probably end up being a Lenovo-type thing rather than HP branded PCs, but it's not known yet. It is hard, though, to imagine that quality will improve once spun off/sold.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 1:08 PM on August 18, 2011


Holy shit. Web OS has inspired so much loyalty. Seems they could have kept it at least profitable, if niche, for a while, until they were really ready to go all in, a la Apple.
posted by ignignokt at 1:09 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Last year HP was the biggest single retailer of PCs. According to Ars Technica, their revenue on PCs was huge ($10B+ last year) but only brought in $500M in profits. Margins were too low. Wild.
posted by bonehead at 1:09 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, 7 weeks from launching the Touchpad on July 1st to killing it.
posted by IanMorr at 1:11 PM on August 18, 2011


If HP sells WebOS to RIM, it will turn around their Blackberry business literally overnight. Palm's weakness was puny market penetration and so-so hardware. Blackberry's weakness is that they don't have a viable next-generation platform - and QNX ain't it. WebOS is a dream to use and develop for, RIM would have a runaway hit on its hands. It would be iPhone for Business.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:11 PM on August 18, 2011 [18 favorites]


HP has a massive enterprise systems division. They're only dumping the computing devices that an end-user might ever touch.
So webOS might get locked up and used for what, printers? Such a waste.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:12 PM on August 18, 2011


They look like something made in the late 1980s--really junky and chintzy.

This describes every single HP (and HP-Compaq) computer and laptop that I've seen in the last 10 years.

What's really depressing is that if you did go back to 1989-1995 and look at HP's products, they're built like tanks. Sure, they're all boring and drab pebble-textured putty-colored plastic molds, but they were built to take abuse and extremely well engineered. I still see laserjet 4 series printers alive and well in the field, and some of those are pushing 20 years old at this point.

I used to have an HP server case that was incredible. Huge 1000w power supply, 10 hot swap ready drive bays, fully ATX compliant case layout with lots of great bonus features. The thing was a monster. It's like they engineered it for military use.

Not like the crappy disposable ink-marketing devices they call printers and shitty, flimsy laptops they make today. All cheap chrome and flash, no substance, loaded with crapware and bulky, ridiculous drivers. Seriously? 200 megs for a fucking printer driver? How about fuck you and I go install the old 40kB laserjet drivers and hope you didn't gut that backwards compatibility yet?

They can't stop making computers fast enough. There's no way HP can rebuild that destroyed trust as a brand even if they could bring all their old engineers together.
posted by loquacious at 1:12 PM on August 18, 2011 [20 favorites]


Given the way this announcement has come out of nowhere -- mid-marketing blitz, even -- it seems there'll be some great postmortem stories coming out sooner or later.
posted by hoople at 1:12 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 1:13 PM on August 18, 2011


So is there a lot of hand rubbing and gleeful yelps at the Dell headquarters? Or is it a sign that you can't make $ in PCs and Dell is next?
posted by VikingSword at 1:14 PM on August 18, 2011


Poor WebOS/Palm. As a former Palm proponent, I was actually rooting for it as an interesting and — shockingly — original UI alternative that wasn't completely derivative of iOS. Hopefully someone buys up their IP and makes good use of it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:15 PM on August 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


> So is there a lot of hand rubbing and gleeful yelps at the Dell headquarters?

Yep.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 1:17 PM on August 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


My first smartphone was the original Sprint-exclusive Palm Pre. I adored that phone, but the software was buggy and the hardware was terrible. I really hoped for great things when HP bought Palm, and it's sad to me that they just... dropped the ball. There's room for a third major player in this market. The Android user experience is awful, and I feel like they could've marketed these devices against Android instead of presenting them as an alternative to the iPhone. The weird commercials probably didn't help either.
posted by JimBennett at 1:17 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


In related news:
Report: Best Buy tells HP to take back its TouchPads
"Best Buy reportedly has managed to sell less than ten percent of the HP TouchPads it stocked since the launch of the device. It has so little confidence they will ever sell that it wants HP to take them back."

It's iPad or nothing, survey says
"A startling 94.5 percent of potential tablet buyers say they're inclined to buy an iPad, which doesn't bode well for Apple's competitors."
posted by ericb at 1:17 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have more than a little bit of shell shock here. 1) Just bought a TouchPad 2) Started at HP less than 5 months ago.
posted by Gucky at 1:19 PM on August 18, 2011 [17 favorites]


If the article is correct, and the Autonomy that HP is thinking of purchasing is the same Autonomy that makes the enterprise-grade-piece-of-shit Interwoven, then just wow. Wow. First dumping webOS, which is (was?) the most bad-ass of device OSes that just had really bad luck to be first spawned by Palm, and then picked up by HP (RIP - I'm a refugee on Android now), which is just, well, dumb, but to purchase Autonomy? Holy shit. I mean, I've worked with some shitty software in my career (and I mean shitty) , but Interwoven takes the cake. Come on, your main logic is still procedural Perl? HULLK SMASH!

Interwoven kept me up at nights and made my life a generally more miserable place. I hope that HP fails that product as well, not that it can really sink much lower. Hell, maybe they'll some how make it better?

Still angry about Interwoven. GRAR!
posted by jivadravya at 1:19 PM on August 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


Never seen a WebOS device, but I generally heard more complimentary things about WebOS than Android.

I dunno, I have a friend who loves his Android device, and iOS 5 seems to be primarily a big feature catch-up to Android. It may not have that vaunted Apple polish, but it also doesn't have that hated Apple strategy sabotage, where features are restricted or forbidden based on what Apple thinks users shouldn't be able to do, or what other products they want people to buy. Hence it's impossible to get a good console emulator without jailbreaking, Air Print works with like eight printers, no Bluetooth or SD file storage, and so on. (Well, maybe that sentence should have an asterisk on it, but it's not as bad on Android at least.)

VikingSword, I guess I kind of like the romantic ideal of Apple, since unlike Atari they really are the same company from the early days of personal computing and not just a purchased and repurposed brand. But looking at it that way seems odd to me, to someone not actually involved in the company.
posted by JHarris at 1:22 PM on August 18, 2011


Or is it a sign that you can't make $ in PCs and Dell is next?

This is Dell going "Oh, crap, we don't have a business services unit, and the Asian brands are ripping the margins from the PC market."

HP's high-end stuff - Unix, storage and networking equipment - is still in very high demand, and can be bundled with all kinds of software and services. HP is just going down the same road IBM did, and it's about time. Dell is where Gateway found itself once they stripped away their post-sales service and build quality to compete on cost - they're toast.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:23 PM on August 18, 2011


WebOS is the SHIT.

This is an Amiga/BeOS situation. The awesome thing that hardly anybody uses. There is going to always be a similar forlorn hope that it will come back in some form, among its fans. I know it.
posted by edheil at 1:23 PM on August 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


HP is just going down the same road IBM did, and it's about time.

Exactly.
posted by ericb at 1:25 PM on August 18, 2011


So is there a lot of hand rubbing and gleeful yelps at the Dell headquarters? Or is it a sign that you can't make $ in PCs and Dell is next?

Lenovo are making money hand-over-fist out of IBM's old PC division, which leaves one wondering why US companies keep spinning them off. Oh well, Carly pretty much killed the HP culture I loved, this is a zombie shambling along.
posted by rodgerd at 1:25 PM on August 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


> This is Dell going "Oh, crap, we don't have a business services unit, and the Asian brands are ripping the margins from the PC market."

Dell does have a SaaS unit, and sells a variety of server solutions, including EqualLogic SANs for VMWare use.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 1:26 PM on August 18, 2011


HP also owns EDS, so their services division (and the profits from that) probably make their hardware sales look a bit anemic. It's a lot easier to make money as part of the problem than it is to make widgets.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:29 PM on August 18, 2011


My wife owns some HP stock that used to be Compaq stock that used to be Digital Equipment stock. As long as those 75 cent dividend checks keep coming HP can do whatever they want as far as I'm concerned.
posted by tommasz at 1:29 PM on August 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Or is it a sign that you can't make $ in PCs and Dell is next?

More that the margins are thinner than HP would like. Again, they earned $500 million selling PCs last year, but that was on $10 billion in revenue from that department. Their total revenue, on the other hand, was just over $126 billion with $8.7 billion in net income.

Thus, making PCs represented about 8% of their revenue but only 5-6% of their profits. In other words, it's still plenty profitable, just not quite as profitable as the rest of HP's operations. So it makes a certain amount of sense to spin it off and refocus on segments which seem to have a better ROI.
posted by valkyryn at 1:32 PM on August 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


VAX (in the form of VMS) outlived the desktop PC at HP. Makes me happy in a deranged retro-nerd sort of way.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:32 PM on August 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Price of ink cartridges set to skyrocket.
posted by punkfloyd at 1:32 PM on August 18, 2011


I have no personal knowledge of computers nor does anyone in our organization have any appreciable knowledge.

Sorry we can't help you out in this regard.

Sincerely yours,

(Signed, 'Bill')

William R. Hewlett

posted by Kabanos at 1:35 PM on August 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Dell is where Gateway found itself

Maybe Steve Jobs can now tell Michael Dell to liquidate his company, and return the cash to Dell shareholders.
posted by hwyengr at 1:35 PM on August 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


Gucky...man. Hopefully you're not in the WebOS or consumer PC areas!
posted by bitmage at 1:36 PM on August 18, 2011


What a dickish tweet from Michael Dell. I'm sure he's all rich and supposedly clever but what a dick.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 1:39 PM on August 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


So I guess I'll have to stop holding my breath for a Pre3 (and WebOS 2.x, too. Thanks for rushing that out to us, carriers!). Since I won't install iTunes, I guess I'm going Android. What's a decent GSM Android device? I don't need much, but one thing I do need is tethering. And hopefully tethering that a) doesn't kill the battery (either while plugged in to a laptop or a wall; pre gradually discharges even while hooked up to a laptop) b) isn't too hard to get to (I am not a 1337 hacker for more difficult jailbreaking). I'm on AT&T but don't mind an unlocked device.

If you're willing to wait about a month for it to come out, the AT&T version of the Samsung Galaxy S II will probably be the best device they offer for some time. Putting a custom rom on it should be pretty easy.
posted by kafziel at 1:39 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is Dell going "Oh, crap, we don't have a business services unit, and the Asian brands are ripping the margins from the PC market."

HP's high-end stuff - Unix, storage and networking equipment - is still in very high demand, and can be bundled with all kinds of software and services. HP is just going down the same road IBM did, and it's about time. Dell is where Gateway found itself once they stripped away their post-sales service and build quality to compete on cost - they're toast.


Huh?

Admittedly, they're nowhere near as entrenched in the space as an HP or IBM, especially at the high end, but they're not Gateway.
posted by kmz at 1:47 PM on August 18, 2011


If the article is correct, and the Autonomy that HP is thinking of purchasing is the same Autonomy that makes the enterprise-grade-piece-of-shit Interwoven, then just wow. Wow. First dumping webOS, which is (was?) the most bad-ass of device OSes that just had really bad luck to be first spawned by Palm, and then picked up by HP (RIP - I'm a refugee on Android now), which is just, well, dumb, but to purchase Autonomy? Holy shit. I mean, I've worked with some shitty software in my career (and I mean shitty) , but Interwoven takes the cake. Come on, your main logic is still procedural Perl? HULLK SMASH!

Interwoven kept me up at nights and made my life a generally more miserable place. I hope that HP fails that product as well, not that it can really sink much lower. Hell, maybe they'll some how make it better?

Still angry about Interwoven. GRAR!


I work for a competitor to Interwoven/Autonomy in the document management industry. I hope our product wouldn't make you that upset.
posted by eoden at 1:50 PM on August 18, 2011


Admittedly, they're nowhere near as entrenched in the space as an HP or IBM, especially at the high end, but they're not Gateway.

Reminds me of a major IT operation in the '90s, after they did a power-down - the CIO sent out a memo:

"I am pleased to report that only two computers did not come back online as expected, though we broke 120 toys."

Where the real money is, is not where Dell is.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:54 PM on August 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Still running my Spring Pre, although it's overclocked to 1GHz on the F-105 kernel. This is ill news and it definitely feels like the BeOS of mobile OSes.

Still, a lot of what made webOS good has shown up on the other mobile systems. The idea of synergy is sort of there (and hopefully will progress). WP7 has cards. Many Palm gurus went to Apple and Google and MS so this isn't surprising.

Sad to see it go, but not surprising. I'd like to rock my Pre as long as possible but the hardware's getting finicky (if only Palm had great hardware to show off webOS, if if if if), but I'll probably end up with a Mango phone before the year is out.
posted by linux at 1:56 PM on August 18, 2011


Sigh.

Just bought a Touchpad 14 days ago. I already have an iPad 2, so it was really just for fun, and because I want an iOS competitor to keep Apple on its toes. WebOS was the best of the other mobile OSes. And now its dead. Tonight I package up my touchpad and return it to Staples.

RIP WebOS

.
posted by SirOmega at 2:01 PM on August 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I got an HP laptop when I was in college back in 2006 and I still have that thing. Last year I upgraded to a HP Pavilion dv7 and I love it. I got it for pretty cheap ($800 17.5" intel i5, 640GB HD 8 GB Ram, Blu-ray player) so im a little sad about the computer side, ive never had problems with mine.

As for webOS I feel like it never got a fair chance. I've talked with a couple of people who have the Palm Pre and their only problem with it was the actually design of the phone not the OS. It's always sad when another choice for the consumer goes away.
posted by lilkeith07 at 2:03 PM on August 18, 2011


There is no HP. HP ceased to exist when they spun off Agilent. Everything after that was just zombie New Coke.
posted by FreedomTickler at 2:04 PM on August 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is Dell going "Oh, crap, we don't have a business services unit, and the Asian brands are ripping the margins from the PC market."


Yeah, I run a a bunch of services in several "enterprise" datacenters around the world that have literally acres of nothing but Dell hardware (which all used to be HP stuff a few years back).
posted by Threeway Handshake at 2:07 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


My HP printer from last year was the most worthless piece of shit I ever purchased
posted by moorooka at 2:07 PM on August 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


HP ceased to exist when they spun off Agilent.

Rather, Agilent is the "real" HP.
posted by Slothrup at 2:09 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love my HP Envy laptop, great performance and build quality. Sad that they're getting out of the PC business, I'm not sure who I'll buy my next one from. I don't like Dells and the last time I looked, Lenovos didn't have very good gaming performance but maybe they're better now.

The Palm/WebOS thing is almost as bad as CISCO's handling of the Flip phone deal.
posted by octothorpe at 2:10 PM on August 18, 2011


Analyst: HP's webOS Never Stood a Chance.
posted by ericb at 2:10 PM on August 18, 2011


Analyst: HP's webOS Never Stood a Chance.

Hindsight being 20/20 and all that. Perhaps we can all peruse my articles "The Beatles: A Big Deal, Right?" or maybe "World War II: Noisier Than a Summer Afternoon in Chepping Wycombe".
posted by eoden at 2:16 PM on August 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


HP is aiming to become a slightly smaller clone of IBM. They can sell big companies an HP server running an HP operating system on an HP chip connected to an HP storage array, and have it all set up (for a substantial fee) by HP consultants and managed by outsourced HP IT. Consumer products are basically a publicity stunt. It's a smart direction to take, because big companies are not very price sensitive and tend to stick with a vendor for decades at a time, while consumers will jump ship if you cost 10% more.

It's only a matter of time before they spin off consumer-level printers too (though I think they'll still be sold under the HP name, it's too valuable to give up).
posted by miyabo at 2:25 PM on August 18, 2011


WebOS will go down in history as the BeOS of phones and tablets.

Palm actually bought Be in 2001, and HP bought Palm of course, so double boo.

I'm a happy iOS/Mac OS X user, but booted in to BeOS on my old PowerBase 180. Too bad about Web OS, it looked to be the best competitor to keep Apple on their toes.
posted by Scoo at 2:26 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have an HP laptop that lost all video due to the nvidia issue, but of course wasn't on the recall list. They won't be missed by me.
posted by nomisxid at 2:27 PM on August 18, 2011


Anyway, judging by reactions of some of the WebOS diehard devs on various message boards, it seems there still will be a niche for apps for the TouchPad for at least a little while longer.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 2:30 PM on August 18, 2011


Hail Mary pass: what if Nokia bought WebOs and threw everything into it as their primary platform, instead of Windows?
posted by VikingSword at 2:33 PM on August 18, 2011


Nokia has Meego, which is on-par with Android at the very least. Windows is purely a political maneuver, a coup from a former MS exec who doesn't understand Redmond's star is on the wane... it will never again dominate the industry like it did in the '90s, and it never dominated the smartphone market.
posted by Slap*Happy at 2:41 PM on August 18, 2011


I'd be very surprised if Nokia's agreement with MS did not include exclusivity provisions for at least a period of time.
posted by modernnomad at 2:42 PM on August 18, 2011


Hmm. The going rate for mobile patent libraries is $510,204.08 per patent. HP (neé Palm) has 1500 or more mobile patents, plus anything else it throws in.

If HP sells for $765M, then they're giving away everything else free with the patents.
posted by Mad_Carew at 2:44 PM on August 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Damn. I've been following webOS for a long time now. I really, really didn't want the ecosystem to fail. Hopefully there's still some life left in it, somehow, but it's not looking very good at the moment.

Ah well, I obviously won't be holding out for a Pre 3 anymore. I'll be getting a Samsung Galaxy S2 whenever it comes to Verizon.
posted by kryptondog at 2:47 PM on August 18, 2011


With all respect, Meego doesn't even have the ecosystem of WebOS. Nokia wanted to differentia themselves from the Android crowd. But with Windows they won't own the platform. If they bought WebOS they'd be off to a running start and have their very own platform with great fundamentals and a bright developmental future. Seems to me, this is the last bell for Nokia - if they really step on it, they can still make it. Of course, the CEO will never want to abandon Windows now after all that trauma, so I guess this is purely a gedanke experiment, but I think it's quite valid as an approach...
posted by VikingSword at 2:48 PM on August 18, 2011


The HP professional PC division, that had a different phone number than the small business desktop division, made great boxes. They called them engineering workstations, and they ran high-throughput video and audio cards that no other machine could fully handle.

That's only to the advantage of system integrators, and I guess they are becoming dinosaurs.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:48 PM on August 18, 2011


Man, I wish that HP would drop dead so that Agilent could go back to being HP.

I used to have a HP200CD on my bench, that thing was awesome.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 2:57 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Redmond's star is on the wane

I don't think WP7, the UI revolution of the Kinect and WP7 Mango, and the rumors of Windows 8 point to any sort of waning.
posted by linux at 3:00 PM on August 18, 2011 [2 favorites]



I don't think WP7, the UI revolution of the Kinect and WP7 Mango, and the rumors of Windows 8 point to any sort of waning.
posted by linux


I think that counts as eponysterical. Or at least eponymusing.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:03 PM on August 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


Redmond's star is on the wane

MS hasn't done much interesting in years but they still sell a hell of a lot of Windows and Office licenses. They still have >90% of both the desktop OS market and the office applications market, they'll be around for a while.
posted by octothorpe at 3:07 PM on August 18, 2011


Another former Palm Pre user here.....earlier this year I (reluctantly) changed my phone and switched to Android. While I am happy with my new phone, the degree of elegance that I had on my palm pre is nowhere near close. It is just a beautiful example of great design. If Rim was any smart it would scoop up WebOS and make it their next blackberry.
posted by The1andonly at 3:10 PM on August 18, 2011


My Mac-tainted viewpoint has a couple of observations. 1. Their scanners and printers sucked, mostly because of the driver software. I remember the company I used to work for bought two brand-new scanners with the legend on the box "Leopard compatible!" only to find the drivers didn't work with Leopard. This took a week of screwing around with tech support to find this out. Good riddance. 2. One of the reasons I think Apple has been so innovative has been that they were the underdogs in the market. I'm not sure I want to see an Apple that dominates the market without competition. Somebody has to keep them on their toes.
posted by Mcable at 3:12 PM on August 18, 2011


WebOS will go down in history as the BeOS of phones and tablets. A great system that had real advantages over its contemporaries, but never gained enough traction to make it viable.

It should go down in history as another victim of pathetic marketing "professionals" who didn't know their ass from a hole in the ground. I go back to the Amiga Computer, which was a similarly amazing OS along with hardware - completely screwed over by an incompetent and clueless marketing group. In the mid-80's, the Amiga made Apple look like a sandbox toy. What happened? Incompetent marketers and leadership.

This really makes me mad because I'm a Palm diehard. I have a Palm Pre. I prefer the smaller form factor to the iPhone. Also, there are sufficient apps aplenty for most business and personal needs. Who needs 55,000 apps - geez! - it sounds like MSFT's computer app bragging rights in the 90's - who cares? Most people only use a handful of apps, anyway. HP really screwed up on this one - what a colossal waste of time, money, and human capital.

Carly Fiorina? What a pathetic corporate leader. I watched up close and personal while she decimated a once-great corporate culture that could have thrived if only she had left her clumsy mitts off. The very fact that Fiorina was even at hp was a sign of the general incompetence of the fat, wealthy fucks on the hp board. The only pushback to Fiorina was one of the Hewlett-Packard son's - a relic according to the other numbskulls there, because he argued for keeping the hp way. Yet, there's Carly, swimming in $$$, while literally thousands of hp employees were displaced because of her incompetence. The same board fired Mark Hurd, who was making progress with hp, for a minor dalliance. Pathetic - as if they're not getting blow jobs on the side! Ha! It's telling that dimwit Fiorina ran for the Congress - only in America! Only in America can you screw up an entire enterprise like hp or General Motors, and end up rich, admired, and running for public office!

The Palm OS has always been slick, and was ahead of its time in many respects; it was built specifically for the web but got buried in the pathetic incompetence of those who were supposed to guide and sell it through the channel. What a bunch of clueless morons! Of course, the senior marketing assholes that screwed Palm up on the marketing side are now padding their resumes in ways that will help them along to their next victim.

So, where do I go, now. Android - with it's horrifically insecure OS and dime-a-dozen feel, or Apple, that wants to lock you in and throw away the key. I'm going to keep my Palm Pre until it dies, and Sprint simply has no more access to replacements.

Hat's off to Apple, though - they sure know how to market stuff! If only they had the Palm OS at the outset - one is only left to imagine.
posted by Vibrissae at 3:14 PM on August 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


i had a Palm Pre as well and really liked it except for the keyboard. it was terribly hard to use.
if i could webOs on something like the Samsung Epic that would be really cool.

at any rate, maybe i can pick up a touchpad for extra dirt cheap now.
posted by sio42 at 3:14 PM on August 18, 2011


Meanwhile, Samsung is doubling down on Bada.
posted by VikingSword at 3:23 PM on August 18, 2011


Didn't Palm actually hold BeOS for a while? Did that go with them to HP, or did HP just get the curse?
posted by weston at 3:24 PM on August 18, 2011


.

I was actually a year late to the Pre (I held on to my Treo 700p for a year after the Pre came out, and finally bought a used Sprint Pre off of eBay). Yeah, the hardware isn’t that great (I have cracks in the casing next to the USB port), but webOS—even 1.45—totally rocks.

Ever since I heard the news that Sprint wouldn’t be getting the Pre³ I’ve been honing my next-phone shopping list in my mind. I’m leaning towards the iPhone next or maybe a Windows Phone Mango device (I dunno, but Android has never really excited me—I have no idea why). I actually really like the Metro UI of WP7, which seems fresh and inventive when compared with the how-many-icons-can-we-fill-up-the-screen-with approach of iOS and Android. Some of the OS features of Mango are really great, such as the “Local Scout” feature that shows you nearby restaurants, shops, and other highlights based on your location.

I played around with a TouchPad at Staples last month, and enjoyed using webOS on a tablet. That was before the 3.02 update, however, which was a shame, because it was slow and laggy in parts. Just for fun, I tested the music app on the TouchPad and the music app on my Pre by starting them at the same time. The winner? My Pre, with 700-some tracks loaded. That’s not good (and hopefully was fixed in the 3.02 update).

Ah, well. Our household already has an iPad 2; I think I’ll save up for the iPad 3 next year (I’m waiting for the retina display to hit the iPad before I get one). As for phones, I’ll see what His Steveness unveils next month... and then check out the forthcoming Mango devices and make my decision. Although, since I converted to Macs a few years ago, synching Windows Phone 7 devices on a Mac is a little more difficult—it’d be easier to do it in Win7 under Parallels. Maybe I should just stick with the iTunes ecosystem. We’ll see!
posted by kentk at 3:25 PM on August 18, 2011


BTW, I second what others have said—RIM should snap up webOS, stat!
posted by kentk at 3:26 PM on August 18, 2011


Man, it seems so many are good candidates for WebOS, like Samsung instead of that Bada thing. Marry great hardware (Nokia, Samsung etc.) to WebOS and off to the races.
posted by VikingSword at 3:27 PM on August 18, 2011


Another former Pre owner here. As great as the OS was, it could only ever be so great with a total of about 17 fucking apps in the store. I was a customer for a little over a year, and I swear the same apps were in the 'new' category for the last 11 months.

My girlfriend and I got Android-running HTC Evo's back at the beginning of the year and haven't looked back.
posted by item at 3:49 PM on August 18, 2011


Vibrissae, you didn't exactly say this, but you implied Carly Fiorina was involved in the Palm acquisition. She wasn't, having been kicked out in 2005. HP bought Palm in 2010.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 3:53 PM on August 18, 2011


WebOS blah blah. I need to know what is going to happen with the HP 12c calculator line.
posted by mullacc at 3:54 PM on August 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


PalmSource split off from Palm, keeping the rights to BeOS, then their IP was bought by Access. A tangled web.
posted by beowulf573 at 4:11 PM on August 18, 2011


The consultancy where I worked lost its HP contract because our president thought that acquiring Compaq was a lukewarm move at best. By 2/2002, we were all on the street looking for work.

Fuck Carly.
posted by Ardiril at 4:24 PM on August 18, 2011


My desktop pc at home is a refurbished HP that I picked up from woot for $500 bucks. It's cheap an functional, (i mostly got it to play starcraft), but its nothing fancy. I also have a feeling it'll be the last desktop pc I'll ever buy. The only reason I picked it up is because the xbox is getting a little bit long in the tooth, and my macbook doesn't play games.
posted by empath at 4:40 PM on August 18, 2011



So is there a lot of hand rubbing and gleeful yelps at the Dell headquarters? Or is it a sign that you can't make $ in PCs and Dell is next?


A couple of weeks ago I met someone in Intel's design team who was being relocated to a South East Asian island in order to set up a full design team locally. They (Intel) are exploring what's going to be the 'packaging' of the future and think that being out here closer to their markets will help them get better insights into the future evolution of computing devices. A lot of bla bla bla but yes, I definitely picked up the sense that PCs (especially as in desktop boxes we all grew up with) weren't even in the running.
posted by infini at 4:52 PM on August 18, 2011


So, I've been curious about the WebOS and their Touchpads. I guess this means that the eBay prices will be cheap as hell, right?
posted by klangklangston at 5:12 PM on August 18, 2011


There will probably be a sweet spot in a month or so for cheap as hell HP Touchpads. Then, prices may actually climb back up due to scarcity or novelty. Not to retail levels, mind you. But, give it a few weeks for the next slash on new units.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 5:19 PM on August 18, 2011


iOS is easily the equal of WebOS in nearly every respect, and until the Pre disaster ended their reign, Palm was a running joke around here. HP lost out to better competition, is all. Blackberry and Nokia are next.
posted by spitbull at 5:33 PM on August 18, 2011


I remember buying a Tapwave Zodiac years ago. It had a modified version of PalmOS. I remember when the community there wanted Tapwave to be more forthright in various updates, until one day... Poof... Tapwave disappeared.

I didn't think it would be quite the same with webOS. But palm OSes seem to have that kind of curse.

Fortunately, I got a free nexus s 4g a while back when best buy was offering them for free, and while Android isn't exactly elegant or consistent, there are some decent apps here, and it's not so bad.
posted by subversiveasset at 5:55 PM on August 18, 2011


There is a lesson here for Apple. We all had Palm Pilots ten years ago. There is also a lesson for Google, HP has almost 2x Apple's market share in PC but Apple is the one making almost all the profits.
posted by humanfont at 5:59 PM on August 18, 2011


Hmm, I'm using an HP laptop right now. I got it because it was cheap. My desktop computer died and I didn't have any other computers do create boot CDs and stuff. Actually when I bought it, it had bad RAM and I had to take it back to Best Buy and they swapped it out.

However, since then the thing has worked fine. It can't play 1080p video at full speed but other then that it's help up pretty well since 2008.

Selling off a profitable company in order to boost their profit is a typical wallstreet suckup move. I mean, if they keep their PC business running it's $500 million free money. But it's not *profitable*. Boosting profits makes the company look better to wallstreet.

So they sell it off, and some Asian company buys it (like Lenovio) and over time we lose lots of great business to the Asian market (of course, all these devices are made in China anyway)
posted by delmoi at 6:20 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Selling off a profitable company in order to boost their profit is a typical wallstreet suckup move. I mean, if they keep their PC business running it's $500 million free money. But it's not *profitable*. Boosting profits makes the company look better to wallstreet.

The board and management team only have the ability to look at a set number of things each day. They could appoint someone to make it work, but then yet would also be on te hook for potentially billions in losses should it fail. They can't make it work now, because if they could it would have better margins and growing revenues. So it is better for everyone to sell it off to someone who will take on the risk and reap the rewards if they can do better. It also gives HP a few billion in cash to do something else with.
posted by humanfont at 6:53 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ugh. HP kills everything they touch. Compaq Proliants and Deskpros were SO well engineered that those lines are only now starting to get HP-cheapified. Except for those, I wouldn't touch anything HP branded to save my life any more. Very sad.

Based on my datacenter wanderings, EMC is replacing a lot of Proliants (and other stuff). Dell is fine if you just need servers, but Proliant and EMC (and Cisco) have better management stuff available.
posted by gjc at 7:14 PM on August 18, 2011


Example: I've never seen an HP laptop that wasn't some kind of broken. (They are pretty though.)

I haven't seen an HP printer since the laserjet X000 series that wasn't:

1- Horrifyingly noisy.
2- Over priced.
3- Containing some design flaw. Like the p3005. Very quiet, finally, except that to do that they used helical gears, which causes their cheap plastic bushings to fail prematurely. Bam, there's another $200 on top of your $699 printer.
4- And the electronics. Has there been a Laserjet or Jetdirect in the last 7 years that DIDN'T have some flaw that made the product die 13 months after purchase?

Again. Sad.
posted by gjc at 7:18 PM on August 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


"I feel that as CEO I believe in transparency about what we are facing and be clear under the size of things we are doing now about it. To conclude, I’m taking ownership for these decisions and investments with a focus on driving actions that deliver value for shareholders as we shape the new HP."

(I was trying to come up with a comment that would make this CEO statement funnier but there's nothing, it's already perfect.)

Any chance of WebOS going open source and being ported to android hardware? It's linux-based, right?
posted by whir at 7:25 PM on August 18, 2011


I'd like to counter the "WebOS didn't have enough apps" argument. I've recently transitioned from WebOS to Android and I'd like to testify that there about 20 apps from google, 10 apps from third parties, Angry Birds and everything else in the Android Market is total and complete shit.

Now if you want to say "WebOS didn't have the right apps" I can't argue too much with that.

One thing is certain, WebOS-Internals and the open source community around WebOS is about as good as open source software gets. HP would have been wise to ship their devices with Preware onboard. WebOS-Internals filled in a lot of gaps for Palm/HP, but if you didn't take the time to participate, you'd never have known.

Palm/HP was good about facilitating open source development on their devices, but I don't get the feeling that they ever truly embraced it.

I'll be keeping my Pre-. It's a fine little inductive charging, wifi streaming PMP/TweetMachine if nothing else.
posted by _aa_ at 7:57 PM on August 18, 2011


Who needs 55,000 apps - geez!

Yeah, choice sucks
posted by the noob at 7:58 PM on August 18, 2011


This is a historical moment*

Palm popularized the PDA.

Here's my memory on some of the historical events with Palm:

They were probably not the first PDA, but they were definitely the first to make one so simple to operate even while providing all the programs you might want, so the Palm Pilot became an instant best seller and started an industry that is continuing today with the iPhone and Android devices.

Along the way they went in many odd directions. They came out with a phone, but Microsoft was ahead in phone features, so they gave up and started selling Windows phones. They bought Be and didn't do much with it. They ended up selling all of Palm, including Be to the Japanese company Access. Several times, Access was going to come out with their own Open Source Linux based Palm compatible phone to compete with the iPhone, but then Android came out and, like many companies these days (including HP now), they couldn't come out with something better than the moving targets of iPhones and Androids.

Palm also decided to come out with their own Linux phone, and also wanted Palm compatibility, so they bought a lot of the rights back from Access. They didn't have the money to get this phone to market, so they ended up dropping the Palm compatibility, then were about to die when HP bought them.

So they spawned an industry that surpassed them. We all benefit from their existence.

You cannot build simplicity after the fact. It has to be absolutely paramount, part of the philosophy of the entire company."
-Eric Benhamou CEO of 3Comm, owner of Palm computer.


*I've read it as 'an historical moment' but that just doesn't roll off of my toungue well.
posted by eye of newt at 8:13 PM on August 18, 2011


Here's a better Wiki article about Palm's history.

I didn't realize that Palm was created to promote Graffiti, a handwriting recognition technique, that I used to be good at--a talent even less useful than Morse code.
posted by eye of newt at 8:24 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


VikingSword: "With all respect, Meego doesn't even have the ecosystem of WebOS. Nokia wanted to differentia themselves from the Android crowd. But with Windows they won't own the platform. If they bought WebOS they'd be off to a running start and have their very own platform with great fundamentals and a bright developmental future. Seems to me, this is the last bell for Nokia - if they really step on it, they can still make it. Of course, the CEO will never want to abandon Windows now after all that trauma, so I guess this is purely a gedanke experiment, but I think it's quite valid as an approach.."

Nokia's Maemo unit first sold hardware in 2005, a full two years before Android was even unveiled. Using the Debian repo to jumpstart an 'ecosystem' is a fine idea, but it leads to some problems. Firstly, trying to sell software to Linux nerds just sounds like a terrible business plan. Canonical got all kinds of hell for selling music via Ubuntu One and producing something like an Ubuntu App Store. Secondly, free software kind of takes the slack out of the market; the OSS stuff might be unpolished, but it's functional and free which immediately puts pressure on your calendar app or other premium apps. Half the appeal of these mobile spaces is the absence of any competitors.

Nokia's problem in the smartphone business is the same as Blackberry's: far too cozy with existing customers instead of finding new ones. Symbian devices still represent a huge portion of revenue and carrier contracts, who must see Meego as a better revenue stream than the existing before they'll jump ship. Beyond that, Maemo / Meego plan called for 5 steps that took more than five years and seems to have assumed patent lawsuits can stop your competitors from racing ahead of you. So while Nokia had two Maemo devices prior to n900, neither of them actually had cellular. Which I'd say is pretty fucking core to a cell phone company and should have been part of gen 2 if not gen 1 Maemo.

Anyways, Nokia's sinking and I don't see why WebOS would save it. They already tried to lash Maemo onto Moblin, and trying to cram WebOS into the mix as well would cement the impression that management is unstable, especially given the public commitment they've already made to Windows Mobile.
posted by pwnguin at 10:17 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


> 'd like to testify that there about 20 apps from google, 10 apps from third parties, Angry Birds and everything else in the Android Market is total and complete shit.

This really isn't true. There are probably at least 100 really good apps in the market covering a fairly broad spectrum of uses. Then there are several hundred more that kind of suck, then thousands more that do really suck. But it's really not the bleak landscape you paint, and is a viable ecosystem that is getting better with time.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:32 PM on August 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Example: I've never seen an HP laptop that wasn't some kind of broken. (They are pretty though.)

So sad. One of the virtues of buying HP was, once upon a time, getting brilliantly engineered kit that could last more-or-less forever. The great endumbanating the Carly is the epitome of turned them from a brilliant engineering company into a bunch of dimwits.
posted by rodgerd at 12:05 AM on August 19, 2011


I'm an Apple user, but I'm sad to see this happen. The TouchPad looked like it could be a real competitor to the iPad.

I hope there'll be lots of juicy news and analysis over the next few weeks. I'd love to know the internal processes that lead to HP launching the TouchPad with such buggy software. There's no guarantee it would've succeeded, of course, but by releasing a product with so many problems, they pretty much made the TouchPad DoA. The only worse launch we've seen this year is the BlackBerry PlayBook.
posted by Georgina at 12:40 AM on August 19, 2011


There are probably at least 100 really good apps in the market covering a fairly broad spectrum of uses.

Name me one good email application for Android that isn't the dedicated Gmail app. Don't say K-9 mail because that is a piece of unusable crap.
posted by gen at 1:39 AM on August 19, 2011


The stock Gingerbread mail app? Anyway, flame wars about mobile OSes are stupid.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 3:25 AM on August 19, 2011


What is the future of webOS?

Currently, the party line internally to the company is 100% licensing to another hardware manufacturer. There are no talks of selling whatsoever.

posted by ignignokt at 7:32 AM on August 19, 2011


I was just in the 14-day return window at Staples (you know, for that weird $200 off weekend).

They were very kind about taking it back -- and the case that I lost the packaging for. But when they asked for the reason for return, the guy called over the other manager.

"That's not true. The HP sales guy was just here today and didn't say anything. We just restocked the TouchPads."

It's going to be a very tough ride for everyone at HP, particularly the sales folks, and everyone who is anywhere in the chain of HP consumer products.
posted by Gucky at 8:14 AM on August 19, 2011


HP refocusing on enterprise, ditches consumer PC and tablets. Not that surprising, really. Will be interesting to see what their enterprise tablet is like, because the TouchPad was the closest anyone has come to being a viable iPad competitor and there aren't any real enterprise solutions for tablets at the moment.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 4:19 PM on August 19, 2011


Meanwhile, Samsung is doubling down on Bada.

In the hope that software publishers find resources to spare to develop for it after iOS, Android, BlackBerry and WP7? Good luck with that.
posted by acb at 4:24 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd like to testify that there about 20 apps from google, 10 apps from third parties, Angry Birds and everything else in the Android Market is total and complete shit.

And I'd like you to note that there is quite a lot of crap in Apple's App Store too. The thing I hate most about it is the catch: everything free there either comes from a huge company trying to build or maintain marketshare for their advertising-based services (Google, Bing), or is an avenue towards building profits in some other way, such as ad impressions (often obtrusive) or selling a for-pay "full" or "HD" or "Pro" version, or will stick you for in-app purchases. And often these things are true even of for-pay software.

But JHarris, you might say, what, do you expect people to just deliver software for free? But even open source software that's completely free in the computer world often outright costs, or carries hidden costs, on iOS: Jeff Lait's POWDER, of all things, demands you "register" it, for cash, to get past dungeon level 15, and Battle for Wesnoth isn't free either.

The reason is that Apple charges $100 a year for the right for inclusion in the App Store, and the App Store is the only way for people who don't pay that fee to install stuff on their device. So nearly everything of any value costs at least 99 cents regardless of its cost elsewhere, because Apple forces developers to look at making software as an economic thing, instead of allowing people to be altruistic.

And there's a whole lot of crap software there besides, most of it costing at least 99 cents before you can see how crappy it is. (The reviews are far from an infallible measure of quality.)

As for iOS gaming, well let's just say that Nintendo doesn't have much to worry about quite yet.
posted by JHarris at 5:51 PM on August 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 8:20 PM on August 19, 2011


delmoi: Hmm, I'm using an HP laptop right now. I got it because it was cheap. My desktop computer died and I didn't have any other computers do create boot CDs and stuff. Actually when I bought it, it had bad RAM and I had to take it back to Best Buy and they swapped it out.

However, since then the thing has worked fine. It can't play 1080p video at full speed but other then that it's help up pretty well since 2008.


I should probably comment that I'm on a Compaq laptop right now, also chosen because of its low price, and it's held up fairly well. My previous laptop was also Compaq, and it developed an annoying problem after a couple of years of use that turned out to be that the heat transfer sticker on the CPU scorched. They wanted a few hundred dollars to repair it; I did some research on the internet and found out I could fix it myself for the price of a $12 tube of thermal transfer compound. I did, and it went to work for a few more good years. So, it worked well for a while, but only after they tried to charge me a lot for a perfectly easy repair that wouldn't have happened in the first place if they had simply used thermal paste themselves.

I probably won't miss them.
posted by JHarris at 8:25 PM on August 19, 2011



Vibrissae, you didn't exactly say this, but you implied Carly Fiorina was involved in the Palm acquisition. She wasn't, having been kicked out in 2005. HP bought Palm in 2010.


Sorry I left that impression; it wasn't intended. Fiorina decimated the "HP WAY"; it was a cool company that got exactly the wrong leader (Fiorina, a fast-talking politician, essentially, with ta similar mindset to that caricature) when they needed someone with real vision to execute that vision. Mark Hurd succeeded Fiorina (I had that in my post); he was the one to execute the Palm deal. Hurd got bounced out on a sexual harassment charge that to this say is questionable in its veracity. Hurd participated in a dalliance; he negotiated a settlement and ended up at Oracle.
posted by Vibrissae at 8:31 PM on August 19, 2011


....aaaand now the HP Touchpad is going on sale for $99/$149 starting on Saturday.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for HP.
posted by grubi at 9:45 PM on August 19, 2011


And they sold out quicker than tickets to touch Bieber at a mall. There will probably be some units at your local Best Buy in the morning if you're itching to get one. It's not a bad device, especially now that it's damn cheap. If you just want to browse the web and check email mainly then it's pretty much all you need.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:17 PM on August 19, 2011


Damn $99? I might be tempted to pick on up. Someone will port android to it, I bet.
posted by delmoi at 11:42 PM on August 19, 2011


Well, here's my report: the local Best Buy hasn't even opened and their manager told me (since I was waiting outside, first in line) they were told not to sell them as they're sending them back. Which sucks because I was going to get the 32GB for me and two 16s for my teenage sons (gadget geeks both — they would have FLIPPED).
posted by grubi at 6:50 AM on August 20, 2011


Same here. They were taken from the locker and the salesman said he even tried getting one but was denied. Oh, well. I was going to buy two: one to sell and one to keep as a beater. Guess I'll have to make due with a Samsung Galaxy.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:38 AM on August 20, 2011


You can buy $99 TouchPads at Best Buy Canada, etc. today.
posted by ericb at 9:38 AM on August 20, 2011


I've been tracking this since midnight last night on SlickDeals. It's pretty crazy and eBay is already flooded with sales.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:26 PM on August 20, 2011


If you can't get them at a local Best Buy, they're for sale on HP's website directly.

I'm no big fan of WebOS, and the resolution is unacceptably tiny, but for that price it's tempting to grab one just to fuck around with.
posted by kafziel at 3:11 PM on August 20, 2011


HP's server seems hosed.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 3:25 PM on August 20, 2011


It's extraordinary to think that the people responsible for all of this - from ill-considered commissioning through to abrupt decommissioning and having warehouses full of the things that most people don't want, with the few people who do want them not allowed to have them, as well as taking one of the best-liked of the mobile OSes and rendering it unnecessarily obsolete overnight - not only make these decisions for a living, but are paid quite extraordinary amounts of money to do so.

It's quite chastening, really. I thought I had a capacity for making bad decisions, but this just reminds me how much of an amateur I really am.
posted by Grangousier at 3:50 PM on August 20, 2011


Sealed with a Downfall parody.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 4:21 PM on August 20, 2011


HP store is tanked. I think they underestimated the popularity of their platform... a dead-end device with no market would not see this kind of stampede.

If they could make a $250 TouchPad, they'd be in the game to win it.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:32 PM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Slap*Happy, I think you touch on what has been the struggle for all non-Apple tablet makers: not only does Apple have a well-developed OS and a huge app store, but the iPad is very competitively priced. I assume nobody is releasing a quality $250 tablet because they simply can't be made for that price.

I've seen comments around the place today that point to the interest in the $99 TouchPad and say this is what HP should've done, release it super cheap from the beginning, but that seems like an excellent way to lose a lot of money. And then what do you do long-term?

I think the TouchPad could've developed into a successful competitor for the iPad, but one thing they needed from the beginning was a commitment to making webOS better than iOS. You can't release a tablet in 2011 with a buggy, crash-ridden OS and expect it to prosper, not when you're competing against both iOS and Android. The cynic in me wonders if it was rushed to market precisely to kill it, because the alternative is that the decision-making over at HP is just that short sighted.
posted by Georgina at 7:03 PM on August 20, 2011


I assume nobody is releasing a quality $250 tablet because they simply can't be made for that price.

Seems right. Found an overview that suggests each touchpad costs $318 to make. This is probably not the exact figure, but gives a good ball park estimate. iPad 2, $326.60; Motorola Xoom, $360.

Seems like HP wants to become a services company like IBM. In that light, one wonders if they just wanted to get out of the hardware game at any cost, including rigging the debut to fail.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:29 PM on August 20, 2011


Woo-hoo! I managed to score one (along w/ my partner) at Wal-Mart this morning. I bet the folks inside the store wondered why 25 gadget freaks were standing outside their store at 6:45 in the morning, counting down the minutes until 7 o'clock. We managed to be some of the first 5 in line to be able to buy the five 32 GB TouchPads they had in stock.

They had an initial problem in that the point-of-sale systems were still showing the old $498 price instead of the new $149 price. They stalled us for a while, but ultimately said that we had to buy it at the old price, and then take it up with Walmart.com to somehow refund us the difference. So we bought them, took them home, and did a little Internet research, which said that Walmart stores don't price-match with Walmart.com. Oops. And the very nice CSR whom I talked with at Wallyworld's 800-number said that I needed to talk with the store manager, and agreed that the store manager should look at the markdown list for electronics, which should show Saturday’s price reduction for the TouchPad.

So we went back to the store, and luckily for us, the returns dept. already knew that they needed to make the price adjustment, and the checker who had helped us previously came over and authorized the refund to the new price.

All these years of missing the good deals on Black Friday (even after camping out one year at Sears at 4 a.m. and getting bupkis after stampeding into the store with the herd), and I finally succeeded in getting something that I wanted! Yeah, I'm happy. :-)

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with webOS and the TouchPad from here on out—if HP will still develop webOS for future licensed devices, let's say, but is dropping support for their hardware, will TouchPad owners be stuck at webOS 3.02 forever?
posted by kentk at 8:44 PM on August 20, 2011


BTW, the Slickdeals post about the TouchPad fire-sale now mentions that @BrynaAtHP said on Twitter that HP is out of stock on the TouchPads temporarily, and notes “We R working on a site where you can sign up & be notified when #HP will have more.” So for those who want one, that’s hopeful news!

I’m sure HP will be collecting all of the TouchPads that Best Buy is sending back to them, and making them available for sale. One of the guys who was with us at Wal-Mart this morning speculated that HP could just put all of the unsold stock in a landfill (saying it would be somehow cheaper to dispose of them than sell them), but I think that would be sheer stupidity. A) there’d be all that e-waste to deal with and dispose of and recycle, and b) why not let people get some use out of a product? For instance, what happened to all of the Flip camcorders that were in the channel when Cisco pulled the plug recently? People liked the Flip, and I’m sure there were folks who wanted the chance to get one before they disappeared.

I won’t speculate on how many people wanted Microsoft’s Kin phone after that was killed, however. ;-)
posted by kentk at 8:59 PM on August 20, 2011


Americans, This is My Next is reporting that Best Buy is selling TouchPads again. Here's Best Buy's FAQ about it.

In Australia, the TouchPad was on shelves for four days before it was pulled. Doesn't look like there'll be a fire sale here -- they're all going back to HP.
posted by Georgina at 2:21 AM on August 21, 2011


I ordered two but have heard of cancellations so until it ships I'm not betting on it. My wife wanted one to check email and browse the web, but doesn't do it enough to warrant event a $200+ device. I just like poking on gadgets, I wouldn't be surprised if there's a successful Android port.
posted by beowulf573 at 7:07 AM on August 21, 2011


Don't hold your breath for an Android port. Or, at least not one that doesn't have driver issues and limited functionality.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:51 AM on August 21, 2011


(Presently, the Touchpad is available for $101 on Barnes and Noble's website.)
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:58 PM on August 21, 2011


Android port just started this weekend; no eta at all.

If you're shopping for a Touchpad, there are a ton on eBay, and not many anywhere else.
posted by ZeusHumms at 3:06 PM on August 22, 2011


> Android port just started this weekend; no eta at all.

Yeah, again don't hold your breath on that. Any Android build that comes out will be in alpha stage for a long time and will probably not be particularly satisfying to use. I'd be curious to see if HP (or some disgruntled HP developer) releases drivers or code for the Touchpad. If the Android aftermarket developers don't get that then there won't be much reason to bother with flashing Android on your Touchpad unless you just like to tinker.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 4:00 PM on August 22, 2011


Well, this puts a spin on things. From reddit: "One of the guys at work went to Best Buy saturday to get an hp touchpad, it already had android on it."

Also, an vid showing that touchpad booting into Android

That changes a lot of things, or at least, raises a lot of questions.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:32 PM on August 22, 2011


I'd say it just shows proof of concept. That appears to be a rather old version of a port for an HTC Topaz. Someone appears to be having some fun. That thing probably doesn't do much more than let you open the settings menu.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:12 PM on August 22, 2011


I assume nobody is releasing a quality $250 tablet because they simply can't be made for that price.

The number I've heard on the dollar value of the parts that make up a 32GB Touchpad is $328. The parts that go into a 32GB iPad 2 were valued at $325. These are dumb numbers, of course - incredibly dumb - and they don't cover either savings (bulk purchase, channel agreements etc) or non-physical costs (composition, shipping, marketing, software development, hardware tests and so on). A big difference there is scale - if you are selling vast numbers of your tablet, the cost of developing the software that goes on all of them can be spread pretty thinly as a per-unit line item. So, actually, to make something that has the same hardware performance as an iPad 2 but your proprietary software on it is per-unit more expensive, because you are going (realistically) to sell fewer units.

A serious iPad competitor would have to a) make something better to use than an iPad, probably for a lower per-unit cost, and convince everyone that it was better to use, b) find out what a large buying segment didn't want from their tablets, cut that out and release a slimmed-down, less-functional tablet at a significantly lower price point (which is sort of what a Kindle is, in this logic - a tablet for people who only want to read grey text on a cream background and buy books) or c) grit their teeth and take a gigantic bath on price in order to take market share, by releasing something which if not as good (in perception or reality) as an iPad is significantly lower in price than it is lower in reputation.

Which is kind of what HP did just now. And it has worked, in the very specific sense that HP has sold a lot of Touchpads. Maybe in a few weeks people will be saying "you know, the Touchpad really is a great tablet. I'd definitely recommend that my tablet-shopping friends get one". But they'll be shopping for it on eBay, and Palm won't see any money from that sale.

So, unless you either find an alternative way to make money on it, or you are prepared to take a big hit on profit to get market parity (which Amazon might be prepared to do, especially as they also have the digital content sales revenue stream to claw the money back), you have problems.

The Asus EeePad is probably a good example of how far you can challenge on cost with in-touch specs without it getting into self-harm territory - it's findable for about $100 less than the equivalent-memory iPad 2. The problem then being, will people go for the Transformer or for a first-generation iPad, for about the same money? And is $100 really enough over the life of the product to make someone take a risk on a relatively unknown quantity?
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:43 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


A serious iPad competitor would have to a) make something better to use than an iPad, probably for a lower per-unit cost, and convince everyone that it was better to use, b) find out what a large buying segment didn't want from their tablets, cut that out and release a slimmed-down, less-functional tablet at a significantly lower price point (which is sort of what a Kindle is, in this logic - a tablet for people who only want to read grey text on a cream background and buy books) or c) grit their teeth and take a gigantic bath on price in order to take market share, by releasing something which if not as good (in perception or reality) as an iPad is significantly lower in price than it is lower in reputation.

You forgot d) find a way to get by on a tenth the profit margin of the iPad. By contract, the Best Buy that sells you your iPad keeps about $5 of that sale, and Apple keeps the rest. This is the hit they have to take to sell the product at all, instead of Apple selling them exclusively through their vertically-integrated Apple stores and keeping all of the profit. Samsung and Motorola and the others who make better tablets than the iPad can't force big-box retailers to do the same thing.
posted by kafziel at 5:15 PM on August 24, 2011


That's basically (c), I think - there are all sorts of things about the iPad that give it advantages in the market, including first-mover chops, sales-leader status, perceived desirability, heavy advertising and so on. Having retailers desperate to stock the product is another of those advantages, connected to the others in a virtuous (for Apple) circle.

To counteract this, assuming that you can't walk into a meeting with Best Buy and say "huge numbers of people will come into your store if you stock the Motorola Xoom/Samsung Galaxy Tab/Acer Iconia/Asus EeePad Transformer, and they will all be well-heeled people looking to accessorize it with many other purchases" (and you probably can't), you have to take the hit on profitability. Of course, you can say that if you are HP, because people have been swarming stores looking for Touchpads, but that's something of a one-shot deal.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:33 PM on August 24, 2011


Buddy of mine picked up a 32gb touchpad in the big sell-off last week. $150 is a good deal, period. It's pretty sweet to play with, but it struck me as feeling kinda heavy. Having said that, I haven't picked up any other tablets either, so who knows? If I could've gotten my hands on one, I would've. If for no other purpose than as a portable video player for my 2 year old.
posted by antifuse at 11:48 AM on August 30, 2011


Missed out on the $99 TouchPad? You may get one last chance
"After seeing the vacuum of demand left by the $99 TouchPad sale, HP will produce one last run of the tablet before October 31."

HP TouchPad: Life everlasting through updates?
"Talk about mixed messages: HP kills the TouchPad, but will still provide updates that 'add functionality'; to the webOS tablet."
posted by ericb at 1:59 PM on August 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


And CyanogenMod 7, the most popular independent distribution of Android, is running in an alpha state on the TouchPad.

Might need to wait a little while to see it finished, but $100 for a dual-core Android tablet is a phenomenal deal. And they're planning to let you dual-boot between that and WebOS.
posted by kafziel at 2:12 PM on August 30, 2011


The competitor to the iPad most likely to be branded a Kindle.
posted by bonehead at 2:31 PM on August 30, 2011


"After seeing the vacuum of demand left by the $99 TouchPad sale, HP will produce one last run of the tablet before October 31."

With no guarantee of deeply gouged prices. The only reason people bought them was the fact that it was $99/149. At that price, it's a great deal. At significantly higher prices? Not so much. Which is why it failed in the first place.
posted by antifuse at 3:21 PM on August 30, 2011


I commend HP for losing its mind and running a pricing sensitivity experiment instead of attempting to make a profit from the TouchPad.
posted by GuyZero at 4:04 PM on August 30, 2011


One of the few times I've seen something interesting on CNet: iPad met its match in the TouchPad. In summary, it's an opinion piece that makes the claim that the success of the discounted TouchPad shows the market is ripe for producing ultra-cheap tablets as loss leaders, making up the money lost with app store purchases.
posted by JHarris at 1:22 AM on August 31, 2011


That CNet op/ed is making a bit of a logical leap, though. HP's tablet sold out simply because they were slashed--there's probably not enough money in WebOS apps to cover the furniture movers who cart away that division's cubicles. Maybe Amazon can sell cheap tablets with the hope of making it up on the app market side, or with advertising on free apps. But, I don't think one can derive a whole lot about the future of the tablet market based on the oddity of the HP fire sale.

Anyway, I managed to pick up several from Best Buy's site when they re-listed them. I regret not throwing as many as I could on my Amex card rather than just getting three since I sold two quickly on eBay for a tidy profit (and kept the third as a bonus). If the Touchpad team had been given more time and another generation of hardware the thing could be a real contender.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:37 AM on August 31, 2011


Amazon can sell cheap tablets because they can deliver every form of media and software to them, with varying profit margins. They have the relationships with content providers to rival those that Apple have.

I got my TouchPad last week. At $99, it was worth a flyer. It turned out to be more and less than I expected. WebOS is slick but has rough edges; the TouchPad out of the box is underclocked and needs OS tweaks just to feel responsive; the state of the app market is abysmal. I didn't expect the lack of apps to be matched by a relative lack of features in 3rd party apps and installed apps.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:25 AM on August 31, 2011


I read that CNN article and some of the comments the other day and thought it was a bit silly.

In selling the TouchPad at $99, HP loses at least $2071.

To make up this loss through app sales, every TouchPad owner would need to purchase $690 worth of apps2.

Even if that happened -- and I think we can all agree that it would be a rather huge if -- these figures only cover parts. No hardware development and testing. No software development and testing. No shipping. No marketing. No sales teams. No customer support.

To gain a 10% share of the tablet market, HP would need to sell around 3 million tablets. The loss on parts alone would be over $600 million3. Throw in the rest of the stuff mentioned above, and you're easily into seven figures. A billion dollar loss in the tablet market. And for what?

A loss leader only works if it gives you a way to profit in the end. That's what supermarkets do. Step 1: undercut a couple of items to draw you in. Step 2: make up the loss in the profits on the other items you buy.

HP has no Step 2 in this scenario.


1. iSuppli estimate that it takes $306 worth of parts and labour to build a 16GB TouchPad. running order squabble fest outlined above why estimates are unreliable, but they're the best we've got.

2. HP takes 30% on app sales. Selling $690 worth of apps would earn HP $207, which is the loss per $99 TouchPad.

3. $207 loss per TouchPad x 3 million units = $621 million loss.

posted by Georgina at 10:19 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Agreed. People swarming to pick up a highly specced (spec'd?), bargain basement priced tablet in a fire sale, most of whom are doing so in an attempt to sell them on Craigslist, Kijiji or Ebay at a tidy profit, is hardly indicative of there suddenly being a market niche for somebody to take advantage of. Drop the price of ANYTHING even remotely useful and resellable by 80% and chances are pretty good you're going to have people lined up out the door. Just look at Best Buy every Boxing Day (in Canada) or Black Friday (US).
posted by antifuse at 11:22 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


TouchPad longevity gets a boost from Android/Ubuntu ports
"The modding community has developed experimental Android and Ubuntu ports for the HP Touchpad, ensuring that alternative software will be available for the device in the event that webOS support fades into oblivion."
posted by ericb at 1:55 PM on August 31, 2011


As of yet, there's no usable Android port for the Touchpad and the Ubuntu builds are lacking in GUI (or really reason for existing other than to say that you got Ubuntu on the Touchpad). If you got this thing for Android you should be prepared to wait awhile. Maybe if the "Ice Cream Sandwich" source is released as Google indicates they will then you'll see an actual decent port. Otherwise, enjoy the novelty of WebOS.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 2:01 PM on August 31, 2011


> I assume nobody is releasing a quality $250 tablet because they simply can't be made for that price.

Quoting myself from two weeks ago because if TechCrunch is to be believed, Amazon is gearing up to release the Amazon Kindle tablet, a 7 inch tablet running a customised fork of Android. No cameras, no 3G, and only 6gb of storage, but the price: $250.

If that's correct, and if Amazon do it well, they should have a real winner on their hands.
posted by Georgina at 9:04 PM on September 2, 2011


Georgina - I saw that the other day, and I'll be interested to see what comes of it. But that Android fork better be completely compatible with the Android market, otherwise Amazon is going to fail just as badly as

Also, saw the other day that there's a couple different ports of Android running on the Touchpad now (CyanogenMod 7 and another one, if I'm not mistaken), though neither of them have gotten the touchscreen working yet.
posted by antifuse at 5:40 AM on September 6, 2011


Whoops... Need to finish sentences before moving on to next points... "fail just as badly as HP did" :) App support is VITAL to succeed with your tablet, as far as I'm concerned. And a lack of front-facing camera will be a big deal, if my informal polling among friends/coworkers is anything to go by. Just about every single one of them has said that Skype support is a HUGE deal in a tablet purchase.
posted by antifuse at 5:43 AM on September 6, 2011


Good points, antifuse. The TechCrunch article says the Kindle tablet only supports the Amazon Appstore, which seems like a potential issue.

But I think one thing Amazon has going for it is a huge pre-existing market of people who own Kindles, or are interested in owning Kindles, and hey, let us offer you this lovely new Kindle tablet for the same low price! That's an advantage that HP, RIM and even Apple don't have. They're trying to sell a new device to people, but Amazon is essentially offering Kindle buyers an upgrade to tablet status for free.

That could be pretty irresistible, even without the cameras. It'll be interesting to see what happens.
posted by Georgina at 2:19 AM on September 8, 2011


The thing I love about my Kindle is the e-ink screen, and the fact that I only have to charge it once a month. But I might be a minority - if I'm going to get a tablet, it's DEFINITELY not going to be for reading e-books. Which is why I thought it was crazy when I heard that B&N brought out the Nook Color - I thought it was replacing the e-ink Nook. But no, they're keeping both on the market, which is smart.

And assuming that the Kindle tablet only supports the Amazon Appstore, I guess that means it's also going to be only available in the US, which is a shame, means I won't be able to get it regardless.

Oh, and one last point: $250 for a Kindle tablet is definitely a nice low price, but it's not the SAME low price as the Kindle, which can be had for about half the price :)
posted by antifuse at 6:12 AM on September 9, 2011


> if I'm going to get a tablet, it's DEFINITELY not going to be for reading e-books.

Yeah, I thought that as well, but a good tablet screen, backlit even, is fine for reading ebooks in most indoor lighting conditions. My Samsung Galaxy and my wife's iPad are both used for reading, and neither of us report any issues or eyestrain. The e-ink screen on the Kindle is neat, but the resolution on higher end tablets is actually sharper, the pages turn more quickly, and it's a lot easier to look something up on the web that was referenced in the text being read.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:16 AM on September 9, 2011


> Oh, and one last point: $250 for a Kindle tablet is definitely a nice low price, but it's not the SAME low price as the Kindle, which can be had for about half the price :)

Whoops, thanks for pointing that out. The time I considered buying a Kindle, they were around $250, and I had no idea they'd gotten so much cheaper. $139 is a very nice price.

Regarding eyestrain, I haven't noticed any with the iPad either. It's also terrific for reading magazines. The Martha Stewart Living app is stunning. Not only does it lay the magazine out in three dimensions (swipe down for more pages in the same article, but sideways for the next article), it has extra multimedia content and video covers. Every time I open it, I think about how I'm living in the future.
posted by Georgina at 8:30 AM on September 9, 2011


Don't get me wrong - I will still do much reading on a tablet when I get around to getting one... Magazines and e-comics in particular. Just not books. The page turning speed on my Kindle 3 is plenty fast enough for me, and reading it sitting out in the sun in Mexico last spring (while I noticed all the iPad users had to huddle in the shade) was fantastic :) And only having to charge it once a month is fantastic. :)
posted by antifuse at 8:52 AM on September 9, 2011


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