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HP bought Palm today.
April 29, 2010 8:54 AM   Subscribe

HP buys Palm for $1.2 Billion.
posted by Michael Pemulis (99 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
New life for my Palm III!
posted by Kskomsvold at 8:56 AM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow! This is a lot more interesting and more world-changing than a Steve Jobs press release.
posted by cashman at 8:56 AM on April 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Whoops! You missed $200 million dollars:

Late Wednesday, HP said it would buy Palm for $1.4 billion, which includes paying private equity firm Elevation Partners, which bought nearly a third of Palm between 2007 and 2009, for its stake.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:58 AM on April 29, 2010


You missed $200 million dollars:

Yeah, but different sources have different figures. The HP website sez 1.2. It has to do with the outstanding debts of Palm.
posted by Michael Pemulis at 9:01 AM on April 29, 2010


Can't wait for an Alpha powered iPaq running Web OS
posted by wcfields at 9:03 AM on April 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


wcfields: "Can't wait for an Alpha powered iPaq running Web OS"

The folks at my old job regarded their iPaq's the same way they regarded their HP Laserjet 4+'s. They would probably love that.
posted by charred husk at 9:05 AM on April 29, 2010


I hadn't realized Palm was still in business until I saw a news story about this. As a company, they have totally dropped off of my radar screen, whereas eight or so years ago they were innovative. So I guess my second surprise, after realizing that they still existed, was that they could possibly be worth that much money, if they aren't making products that get talked about.
posted by Forktine at 9:05 AM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Two companies that once owned their market and then lost it. Together they are sure to go to new heights in the areas of success and succeeding. This will revitalize their synergy both inside and outside the box resulting in a new cloud of service oriented customer facing enhancements. Maybe after she fails at politics Carly can be brought back to fail at technology again.
posted by Babblesort at 9:07 AM on April 29, 2010 [22 favorites]


This isn't intended to be snarky, but neither HP nor Palm are on my list of exciting tech companies these days. I guess they're both doing what they need to do to survive. Is either of them actually doing anything worth watching though?
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 9:08 AM on April 29, 2010


Maman died today.
posted by grobstein at 9:08 AM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


The people that used to make printers can now used to make handhelds!
posted by DU at 9:09 AM on April 29, 2010 [22 favorites]


How long before Palm owners must buy non-rechargable batteries for twice the price of the device?
posted by Space Coyote at 9:09 AM on April 29, 2010 [10 favorites]


Eventually a business becomes large enough that it's business is no longer making and selling products, but cannibalizing other businesses who also no longer make and sell products. HP bought Compaq a few years ago, too.

DU said it far more succinctly.
posted by Xoebe at 9:12 AM on April 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I hadn't realized Palm was still in business until I saw a news story about this.

You haven't heard of the Palm Pre, really? It was quite a big deal when it was announced. Everybody I know who has one loves it, but I'm stuck with AT&T and I like my Nokia fine for now. The Pre Plus is coming for AT&T soon but I refuse to buy subsidized smartphones.
posted by kmz at 9:12 AM on April 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


1.2 billion?! damn. I would have thought the figure would be more like "a smile and a bit of string."
posted by shmegegge at 9:16 AM on April 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Does this mean more of those Crazy Pre ads?
posted by delmoi at 9:21 AM on April 29, 2010


Eventually a business becomes large enough that it's business is no longer making and selling products, but cannibalizing other businesses who also no longer make and sell products. HP bought Compaq a few years ago, too.

That's just the nature of conglomeration, isn't it? It always worries me when it happens, because the chain of command just grows and grows and it seems almost inevitable that at some point nobody at the top really knows what's going on at the bottom which is never a good thing.
posted by tybeet at 9:24 AM on April 29, 2010


It's reassuring that one of the things they wanted was WebOS, and they seem keen on investing into keeping that alive and using it in more devices. Now, at least, one of the most innovative phone OSes won't die.
posted by acb at 9:25 AM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cool, I hope this keeps WebOS alive and they put it some good products.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:27 AM on April 29, 2010


This isn't intended to be snarky, but neither HP nor Palm are on my list of exciting tech companies these days.

HP is the biggest PC manufacturer on the planet, far bigger than Dell, Lenovo or any other brand. They may not be exciting but they still matter a lot and they have won in brutal commoditized markets like printers & PCs. And while they've not made any market headway at all, their Touchsmart line of desktops are probably the most innovative commercial touchscreen UIs after the iPad. True, it's a very far, far, FAR second place, but hey, they're ahead of everyone else.

So while they're not exciting perhaps they are still pretty important and relevant.
posted by GuyZero at 9:28 AM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Eventually a business becomes large enough that it's business is no longer making and selling products, but cannibalizing other businesses who also no longer make and sell products.

Cripes, HP isn't CA. Or Quest Software.
posted by GuyZero at 9:29 AM on April 29, 2010


As long as Microsoft owns HP's software options, it can't control it's own fate. So this makes sense if HP actually does something useful with webOS.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:30 AM on April 29, 2010


HP is inept on a global scale. I fully expect they'll decide that Palm is a hardware company. They'll be poorly turning out generic WinMo smartphones inside six months.
posted by Skorgu at 9:31 AM on April 29, 2010


Interesting trivia on Elevation Partners, mentioned above as getting a payout. U2's Bono is one of the investors.
posted by dr. fresh at 9:32 AM on April 29, 2010


Space Coyote: "How long before Palm owners must buy non-rechargable batteries for twice the price of the device?"

I am loathe to question this reasoning because it gets me free printers, but: the ink is more valuable than the hardware. The cartridge that comes with a new printer contains less ink than a new cartridge. Buying a new printer with a smaller cartridge when your first runs out is a waste of money.
posted by idiopath at 9:36 AM on April 29, 2010


Those of you who claim that Palm is not innovative have no idea what you are talking about. WebOS is a great OS my Palm Pre is easily more elegant and easy to use than any android phone I've seen. It is more powerful than the iPhone OS. It is also a better (more fair) ecosystem for developers than the iPhone.
posted by oddman at 9:36 AM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


WebOS is a great OS my Palm Pre is easily more elegant and easy to use than any android phone I've seen. It is more powerful than the iPhone OS. It is also a better (more fair) ecosystem for developers than the iPhone.

Thou doth protest too much.
posted by xmutex at 9:41 AM on April 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is pretty much Elevation's only win ever.
posted by Meritager at 9:42 AM on April 29, 2010


You haven't heard of the Palm Pre, really?

Once you mention it, yeah, I've seen a mention of it or an ad or something. But I think of it (maybe correctly, maybe not, I don't know) as a deep fourth place after the iphone and the various Blackberries and the Droids.
posted by Forktine at 9:45 AM on April 29, 2010


Interesting trivia on Elevation Partners, mentioned above as getting a payout. U2's Bono is one of the investors.

Elevation Partners is actually named after the U2 song "Elevation".
posted by kmz at 9:45 AM on April 29, 2010


HP did a dual number with this one - probably saved Palm and also set themselves up to compete with Dell in the smart phone market. I work for Dell and I've been wondering what HP was going to do to position themselves in the phone market.
posted by PuppyCat at 9:46 AM on April 29, 2010


The last time I thought about either of these companies was in 2002; thanks for the trip down memory lane.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:46 AM on April 29, 2010


Interesting trivia on Elevation Partners, mentioned above as getting a payout. U2's Bono is one of the investors.

Ah, good. If Saint Bono no longer owns any of Palm, then should I be tempted by a WebOS device, I can buy it guilt-free.
posted by acb at 9:49 AM on April 29, 2010


This is pretty much Elevation's only win ever.

I don't know much about their other investments, but they made a killing when they sold Bioware/Pandemic to EA.
posted by kmz at 9:49 AM on April 29, 2010


As for HP's continued existence, the HP Mini looks like a nifty netbook, and the HP Slate looks potentially nifty, but they're probably totally doomed if they don't bring the price down to under the iPad's. Nothing shocking in its innovation by any means, but they are still making stuff.
posted by Zed at 9:50 AM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am loathe to question this reasoning because it gets me free printers, but: the ink is more valuable than the hardware. The cartridge that comes with a new printer contains less ink than a new cartridge. Buying a new printer with a smaller cartridge when your first runs out is a waste of money.

Aren't the mechanical components of the printers made of soft, low-grade plastic, and designed to end up in the landfill not too long after the ink runs out anyway? I suspect that consumer-oriented printers occupy a similar niche to disposable 35mm cameras.
posted by acb at 9:51 AM on April 29, 2010


The prospect of a tablet running WebOS intrigues me.

Also, the fact that multiple people in this thread had no idea that Palm launched a pretty groundbreaking OS less than a year ago speaks volumes about Palm's lack of mindshare. Marketing fail. Hopefully HP can bring something to the table here; at the very least, they do advertise the heck out of their products.
posted by zsazsa at 9:51 AM on April 29, 2010


the ink is more valuable than the hardware

Define "valuable". Do you mean it costs more for the customer, uses more resources to manufacture, is more attractive for the company to control or what?
posted by DU at 9:51 AM on April 29, 2010


I take it back... this was hardly a win:

posted by Meritager at 9:53 AM on April 29, 2010


http://www.siliconbeat.com/2010/04/28/did-elevation-partners-take-a-hit-on-palm-investment/
posted by Meritager at 9:54 AM on April 29, 2010


I was very much hoping to get myself a Palm Pre - until I tried using it... and sweet baby Jesus did I ever dislike the feel of that keyboard. Pity, because it is otherwise pretty awesome.
posted by antifuse at 9:55 AM on April 29, 2010


Maman died today.

Don't be a stranger.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:56 AM on April 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Here is an analogy:

You can buy a crappy mp3 player for about $30. It comes with a crappy pair of headphones. For some reason the store where you buy the player only sells halfway decent headphones. So new headphones cost $40 and you can buy a second player for cheaper than a replacement pair of headphones. Yes this is a quality analogy where the other situation is quantity, but I hope it helps clarify my point.

The ink has a high market price. And you get significantly less of it with a new printer than you would get in a new cartridge. If the hardware and the ink are priced rationally, then buying a new printer with the baby cartridge that comes with it is a waste of money when all you need is the ink (the component with the higher market value).

So there is a possibility that there was a market failure and the ink is overpriced across the board. But until some third party ink supplier comes out with a cheaper ink to exploit this market inefficiency, the new cartridge still makes more economic sense than buying a new printer.
posted by idiopath at 9:57 AM on April 29, 2010


You got toner on my handheld! You got pre in my printer queue! Two great tastes that were meant together. All that is left for HP to buy is Baltic Avenue.
posted by zerobyproxy at 9:58 AM on April 29, 2010


And those of you with various snarks about how neither HP nor Palm have been relevant in recent years, come on now - the Pre may not have taken the world by storm, but anybody who even *remotely* follows the tech world has heard of it.
posted by antifuse at 9:58 AM on April 29, 2010


So there is a possibility that there was a market failure and the ink is overpriced across the board. But until some third party ink supplier comes out with a cheaper ink to exploit this market inefficiency, the new cartridge still makes more economic sense than buying a new printer.

Of course, you can just go to one of the various third party ink cartridge refillers, if you have one near you. Yes, my HP printer can no longer tell me when it is out of a particular colour of ink, but I can do that my very own self just fine - if a colour printout looks wrong, I just pull out the cartridges and shake them. :)
posted by antifuse at 10:02 AM on April 29, 2010


This makes me happy for a very specific reason: More exposure and implementation of WebOS. It really is a fantastic mobile platform- it's beautiful, powerful, and handles multiple opened apps in a very graceful way. They recently debuted a browser-hosted IDE for WebOS apps, an idea I love and would like to explore further at some point.

I'm an Android fanboy through and through, but if the Pre would've been available on Verizon when I get a new phone, I would've been torn choosing between it and my Droid. It's a shame that it's not as high-profile as the other mobile operating systems. I'm hoping this purchase will change that. With enough developer support and the right hardware, the idea of a WebOS-powered tablet positively titillates me.
posted by kryptondog at 10:07 AM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like my kodak aio printer! Its consumables are a decent price ($27 for a combo pack, $10-16 for an individual ink pack and it does ok with the scanning and the printing and the whatnot.
posted by boo_radley at 10:08 AM on April 29, 2010


acb: "Aren't the mechanical components of the printers made of soft, low-grade plastic, and designed to end up in the landfill not too long after the ink runs out anyway? I suspect that consumer-oriented printers occupy a similar niche to disposable 35mm cameras."

This is why you shouldn't buy a consumer-oriented printer. The higher-end ones are much more durable. My 1993-era HP Laserjet 4M+ is so durable that I haven't had to buy a new one yet. The higher-end networked color lasers in our lab have given us no real problems despite a pretty heavy workload. The smaller cheapo desktop printers? Not so much.

idiopath: "But until some third party ink supplier comes out with a cheaper ink to exploit this market inefficiency, the new cartridge still makes more economic sense than buying a new printer."

It makes more economic sense to buy a printer that uses toner instead of liquid ink. I throw a new toner cartridge in my (fairly heavily-used) printer on the order of once every 1-2 years. Even at $90/cartridge, that's much cheaper than ink per page.

And hey guess what apparently HP bought Palm today, woo lets talk about printers. Does this mean I will finally be able to print something from a mobile device?
posted by caution live frogs at 10:11 AM on April 29, 2010


This is great news; anyone who follows the sector should know that in the last year or so, Palm's released the most exciting and innovative smartphones on the market, although perhaps that's not saying much, since Apple and RIM have continued to offer small updates to the tried-and-true phone models they introduced years ago.

In fact, over the past year, no phone has created more buzz and excitement than the Palm Pre, released a little less that a year ago. The Pre won the Best of the Consumer Electronics Show and People's Choice Award was listed as one of the 10 Most Brilliant Products of 2009, among many accolades. Heck, even Gizomdo called the phone "simply amazing" and "maybe the most important handset to be announced in two years."

So, maybe the those announcing their boredom with Palm's offering having been paying attention. I dunno.

Having watched Apple use its marketing savvy to kill off superior music players like the Rio Karma, I'm optimistic to see that Palm's WebOS will be given a new lease on life, and expanded to work on tablets and other devices. Neither HP nor Palm seems to be about creating a closed-off garden of proprietary delights --neither really aspires to be a content creator/owner like Apple, or a god-like manager of all information, like Google.

Palm had a tough year: bad ad campaigns, problems with vendors, problems with build quality, especially at launch. And it wasn't in a position to make such mistakes. But it's still making the most interesting and promising phones out there, and I'm very encouraged that they'll be given another chance.
posted by washburn at 10:15 AM on April 29, 2010


I like my kodak aio printer! Its consumables are a decent price

I think I remember seeing an announcement a while back (2-3 years?) where Kodak announced that they were not going to follow the "cheap hardware, expensive supplies" model of printer pricing, and instead were going to price the hardware at a reasonable price for a quality piece of equipment and then sell the supplies for what they're actually worth.

I don't have a printer, so I've never price compared, but I do remember at the time considering looking at a Kodak printer and cartridges to add to the household tech. I really hate the other pricing scheme, and that is what has kept me away from owning a printer anymore. (It's cheaper to take things that REALLY need to be printed down to the local copy shop on a thumb-drive, and cuts down on what I print at home with that additional barrier to easy hardcopy.)
posted by hippybear at 10:19 AM on April 29, 2010


caution live frogs: "Does this mean I will finally be able to print something from a mobile device?"

Look, it may be 2010, but it's not the future, jet pack boy. Dial those expectations back a notch.
posted by boo_radley at 10:21 AM on April 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


The real reason HP bought Palm: Patents.

Either as a defensive measure for a future handheld or they plan on licensing/suing.
posted by Mick at 10:26 AM on April 29, 2010


I loved my Treo 600 (or whatever number it was) so much back in its time

<flashback to me in 2004 or so>
Me in 2003: music and video?! On my phone?! amazing - and I can install all these little applications to do whatever I want? On my phone? Really? wow!
<end flashback>

I don't follow gadget-y stuff at all, but I'd be really, really happy to see HP use this acquisition to raise the smart phone game.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:28 AM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I bought what?
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 10:28 AM on April 29, 2010 [21 favorites]


Does this mean I'll be able to run BeOS on my DECstation?
posted by schmod at 10:42 AM on April 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


WEBos is really good. It's a really thoughtful and well implemented OS that unfortunately doesn't have enough market share to get apps made for it and doesn't have enough apps to gain market share. I'm going out on a limb and say that many people dismissing it are evangelists for desktop OSes that suffer from the same sort of negative network effects.

That said, despite how good webos is it isn't clearly better than Android or IphoneOS and it might not be clearly better than Windows Mobile 7. The clock is really ticking on getting something suffiently compelling together that obscurity won't breed obscurity. I sort of wish that there was an elegant way to be able to use android apps with webOS or use webOS sort of like an android skin in the mold of HTC's sense. There are some really good ideas in webOS that I think would be a shame if they got lost.
posted by I Foody at 10:50 AM on April 29, 2010


Add me to the list of people saying "No, no, Palm is the most exciting cell phone maker on the market, and WebOS is the best mobile operating system platform." That being said, I understand why you might not have heard about it, or think of it as being sub-iPhone/Android.

1) A year and a half ago, Palm's devices were laughably obsolete, while today they're on the forefront. This is a remarkable and downright weird turnaround for a tech company, and I haven't seen anything else like it.

It's important to know that the current Palm phones and WebOS are a completely different breed of devices than the Treos, Centros and Palm OS of yore. Palm flogged their dying PalmOS operating system far past its effective usability levels for years, and it honestly came as a shock to many industry followers when WebOS -- a fully current, wonderfully designed OS -- was suddenly released as its successor.

Imagine Microsoft sticking with Windows 3.1 for a decade instead of making incremental improvements, then suddenly releasing Windows 7 to everyone's shock and amazement -- that's what Palm did last year with the announcement of WebOS.

2) Palm's marketing of the Pre was truly awful. Instead of explaining how the Pre had important usability features the iPhone lacked, they had the creepy women in the field who spun around. Instead of showing the incredible form factor of the device, and explain how they managed to squeeze a perfectly decent physical keyboard and full-res display into a phone smaller and lighter than the iPhone, Sprint whooshed by a guy playing with a giant Pre while the screen filled with numbers.

They didn't mention that it's small and easier to type on. They didn't talk about the way that the Pre integrates and polls all of your accounts for contact information, and then coordinates it for you so that you never have to worry about changing contacts again. They didn't talk about listening to Pandora while surfing the web while on Sprint's 3G network without a glitch. They didn't mention how open the development program was, and how there's both an app store and you can just load apps onto the device via USB. They didn't show the app switcher you can pull up via a finger gesture to switch apps without jumping back to a home screen.

They created the most advanced phone on the market, and they announced it by showing a creepy disembodied woman spinning in a field.

3) The platform didn't capture the public's imagination. Ultimately, the iPhone is an Objective C device. Android is a Java device. The Pre -- like Google Docs -- is primarily an HTML/Javascript platform with an sqlite backend. This means that the web browser on the phone is brilliant. That apps can actually be created from a web browser (see Project Aries). And, yes, it now has 3D gaming.

You know how Steve Jobs went out on a limb and made Display Postscript the presentation layer for NEXTSTEP, on top of a UNIX platform, and how it was awesome but nobody paid attention because it was ahead of its time, NeXTs were a bit expensive and a bit quirky and not mass-adopted? At the time, I was saddened it didn't take off.

Luckily, NeXT got bought by Apple, and NEXTSTEP got a new skin and gained success under the new name Mac OS X. And a version of that OS is running on your iPhone.

Palm has taken it to the next step with WebOS, merging UNIX and web technologies. It seems a little weird to folks right now, but damned if the phones don't work quite well, and with lots of little extras you don't get on the iPhones. It's just that there aren't the *apps*.

My hope is that HP does for WebOS what Apple did for NEXTSTEP. They can build devices for it people want, extend it, keep it current, and make it something awesome. It's a real possibility for something very cool being released a couple of years from now.

It may seem shocking to you that a company that many see as being old-fashioned purchased a different company people see as being hopelessly obsolete for such a chunk of change. But Palm's really isn't obsolete -- it's as though they catapulted from a position of being way behind to being so far ahead that people just don't get what they're doing. WebOS is really quite awesome, and it could help HP out a lot. I've got my fingers crossed.
posted by eschatfische at 10:55 AM on April 29, 2010 [30 favorites]


As long as Microsoft owns HP's software options, it can't control it's own fate.

Well this is a bit like the when-you-owe-the-bank-$1M-its-the-banks-problem joke. MSFT is pretty invested in making HP as happy as possible considering they're MSFT's biggest consumer reseller. MSFT basically made Windows Mobile for HP handheld devices and although those enjoyed pretty modest success it speaks to their closeness as partners.

Not every company seeks complete vertical integration. Every time you think how awesome the A4-iPad-iPhone OS combo is at controlling the universe, think of SPARC-Sun-Solaris and wonder if it is a universally good strategy.
posted by GuyZero at 10:57 AM on April 29, 2010


The Pre is an amazing phone. I didn't like the feel of the keyboard, but the OS was fantastic, and if it had been available on Verizon when I was ready to upgrade, I would have gladly gone for a Pre instead of a BlackBerry.
posted by zarq at 11:00 AM on April 29, 2010


1992: Palm founded.
1995: USRobotics buys Palm
1997: 3COM buys USRobotics
---------------------------------------
2000: Palm gets spun off
---------------------------------------
2010: HP buys 3COM
2010: HP (aka 3COM) buys Palm

When do we get USRobotics back?
posted by blue_beetle at 11:00 AM on April 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Palm: the new Amiga?
posted by egypturnash at 11:01 AM on April 29, 2010


Graffiti, meet Reverse Polish Notation. AWESOME!
posted by tss at 11:02 AM on April 29, 2010 [2 favorites]



HP doesn't have much of a consumer presence. This is unfortunate. HP makes (some) pretty decent server hardware, and their networking gear is a better value than Cisco in most cases. They bought Lefthand last year, and have done some really good things with them since.

But HP gets short shrift in the press. I recall a couple years ago I was in San Fran for WWDC, and HP had announced a new laptop. The local news reported on it, but the graphic they used..... had printer carts on it, and no pictures of the device and no information other than "hey HP announced something". Three minutes later, this same station ran report on the iPhone complete with graphics and pictures and an blurb from an Apple spokesman, and even including pricing. It was practically an infomercial. I almost forgot I was watching the news.

I think this is a good move for HP. They seem to do well by being pretty good in a vast array of markets. Whatever market segment you can come up with, there is always some market leader (IBM, EMC, Apple, Dell, etc.) and then HP a notch or two lower in popularity. But they are in every market segment.

Speaking of the HP mini - I have one, and it's a pretty sweet machine. It came with Windows 7, but the Ubuntu netbook remix runs without any trouble at all. Cheaper than an iPad and far more capable.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:08 AM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


eschatfische makes a powerful case for why webOS is relevant and important. The horse race of interest has been iPhone vs. Android. But, I think Mac vs IBM-PC vs Amiga in the early personal pc days is not a bad technology metaphor for iPhone vs Android vs webOS.

webOS finding a home with a big manufacturer is good. Whether HP will screw it up is a different question.

And for web nerds: webOS is easier to develop Apps for for people with HTML+CSS+JavaScript skills than either iPhone or Android.
posted by artlung at 11:19 AM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


egypturnash you made the Amiga comparison too. I missed it before I posted my comment. Nice! (whether you meant it positively or negatively).
posted by artlung at 11:21 AM on April 29, 2010


I owned and operated a Treo 650 for three years. I premeditatedly smashed it on the pavement and it felt good.
posted by jsavimbi at 11:34 AM on April 29, 2010


Hey palm! Make an internet browsing device (no phone) to compete with the iPod Touch! I don't have any good ideas about why you'd want to do it, but I'd at least consider it before deciding on an Android Internet Tablet or going for the iPod Touch anyway!
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:04 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


think of SPARC-Sun-Solaris and wonder if it is a universally good strategy

SPARC is for servers and midframes, which might be a bit different from consumer devices where setting yourself apart from your competitor can mean 40% margins.

Setting yourself apart in the server/corporate space can kill you unless you can deliver good ROI. After the dot-com bubble burst, Sun had a lot of trouble with that equation.

When I think about consumer options from HP, I can't really think of anything special about their computers that I couldn't get from Dell or Lenovo, except for pricing, and maybe weird Tim Burton-esque ads. All the hardware is the same. All the software is the same.

With webOS, HP could make consumer devices with their own identity and their own set of features. They wouldn't be reliant on Microsoft to make software with features that will end up on competitors' devices through a software update.

I'll bet that spending $1.4B means they have some ideas in mind...
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:09 PM on April 29, 2010


Maman died today.

I almost wanted to favorite this, except that your translation is horrible. It's "Today, Mom died." It's an intensely important literary device that that book in particular starts with the word "aujourd'hui" and any translator who misses it ought never to have been hired.

posted by thesmophoron at 12:15 PM on April 29, 2010


Palm had a booth at the GDC a few months ago. I still have a sticker that they gave me.

But the writing was already on the wall, at one of the talks (about ads on mobile platforms) one of the speakers predicted Palm's share of the market would disappear within a few years, with a neat little line graph to prove it. The only thing surprising about Palm's sale is that it happened sooner than I expected.

It's a shame, they are neat little phones and they are really capable. I played a flight sim and a racing game at their booth, and was very impressed. Unfortunately I have no incentive to develop for it, as their market share (at the time) was pretty small. And Google had just given me a free handset. So there's that to consider.

It kind of worries me that smartphones have the same specs as a PC did when I was in middle school and early high school. Or a netbook. Do we really need to play quake on a handset?
posted by hellojed at 12:16 PM on April 29, 2010


From what I hear the Pre is a pretty cool device, but the application count numbers are horrible.

The fact that HP owns them now means that the threat of buying a dead companies devices is lessened. I was looking at a 2nd phone for my wife last month (android vs pre since AT&T/iPhone is pretty much unusable as a phone here in SF) and the pre just seemed to much of 3rd place to go with it (e.g. no apps, potentially dying company, etc..)

Palm had it for so long and just rested on their laurels. I finally moved off of PalmOS last year to iPhone. I ended up buying more apps in the first month than in 10 years of Palm ownership, though Palm still got it so right even a decade+ ago around PIM functionality.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 12:16 PM on April 29, 2010


eschatfische: Imagine Microsoft sticking with Windows 3.1 for a decade instead of making incremental improvements, then suddenly releasing Windows 7 to everyone's shock and amazement -- that's what Palm did last year with the announcement of WebOS.

Loved your thoughts on WebOS, and that's a perfect analogy for it. All I knew about Palm before this was that they made handsets with an interface that vaguely looked like Windows 3.1. That they went from that to a monster of a modern mobile operating system so quickly is shocking.

artlung: And for web nerds: webOS is easier to develop Apps for for people with HTML+CSS+JavaScript skills than either iPhone or Android.

That's exactly it. Steve Jobs reiterates several times in his open letter to Adobe that true cross-platform apps should be written in HTML5, CSS, and Javascript. I agree with him that this is the best approach (especially for creatives who may not necessarily have any other scripting/programming experience), but WebOS handles this better than the iPhone by making those open web standards the tools to create WebOS apps.

There's some great web apps for Mobile Safari. There's also several jquery (et. al.) plugins for making mobile sites touch-friendly in a way that resembles the native app experience. However, even John Gruber will tell you that these web apps aren't an apples-to-apples match to the experience of the App Store apps. I don't think this is problem with the web apps themselves or how Webkit mobile browsers handle them so much as it is the case that you just can't hope for a seamless experience between web and native approaches. In most cases, laypersons will stick to the App Store and ignore the very existence of web apps, or at least not be aware that they are apps for all intents and purposes. And certainly, developers who wish to target Apple mobile products have many, many incentives to use the App Store.

For these reasons, I can't help but think that Jobs' commitment to open standards is almost exclusively focused on the delivery of streaming web video. He really doesn't care about web apps (and why should he, considering how lucrative and high-profile the App Store is). And where would these devices be if every single developer chose to release cross-platform web apps instead of App Store apps? WebOS is much more open than the iPhone OS, Blackberry's OS, Windows Mobile (duh), and even Android.
posted by kryptondog at 12:25 PM on April 29, 2010


I used to work for HP. I don't know what to think. perhaps I won't then. I'm still in shock. afaik they don't merge well, remember compaq?
posted by infini at 12:32 PM on April 29, 2010


HP's engineering workstation PCs, as opposed to their desktops, rock. I have a 10-year-old 8200xp, and its still on the short list of PCs that will run certain real-time video editing applications. And I still love my laserjet 2100.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:55 PM on April 29, 2010


As long as Microsoft owns HP's software options, it can't control it's own fate.

HP makes pretty good netbooks for Ubuntuing up.
posted by Artw at 1:12 PM on April 29, 2010


2) Palm's marketing of the Pre was truly awful. Instead of explaining how the Pre had important usability features the iPhone lacked, they had the creepy women in the field who spun around.
I liked those ads. They were weird, sure. But they were at least interesting. iPhone ads, Droid ads, the blackberry ads: They're all boring.
They didn't show the app switcher you can pull up via a finger gesture to switch apps without jumping back to a home screen.
Actually they did. And do you seriously expect them to show uploading apps over USB in a TV ad? I don't think that would be very effective, in fact it might turn people off.
posted by delmoi at 1:53 PM on April 29, 2010


This isn't intended to be snarky, but neither HP nor Palm are on my list of exciting tech companies these days. I guess they're both doing what they need to do to survive. Is either of them actually doing anything worth watching though?

utterly clueless
posted by mr.marx at 2:43 PM on April 29, 2010


Smartphone shopping last summer, I had the tech at Best Buy hand me a Pre so I could try out that teenytiny keyboard. Even with my big thumbs I was able to begin typing on it quickly, effortlessly, and nearly error-free. That sold me. What I like best now the way the WebOS email and calendar clients combine everything into a master inbox & calendar while easily indicating the source of each message & event. Very intuitive interface, but crap for apps- wish someone would script an iPhone emulator for it so I could get some sweetness from Apple's app store.
posted by squalor at 2:51 PM on April 29, 2010


HP's engineering workstation PCs, as opposed to their desktops, rock. I have a 10-year-old 8200xp, and its still on the short list of PCs that will run certain real-time video editing applications. And I still love my laserjet 2100.

Absolutely. My calculators have all been HPs. I cut my Unix teeth on an old HP box running HP-UX, and would still like it back, please. My LaserJet 5 is downright bomb-proof.

The modern consumer products look hellish to me, but I'm betting there's still a hard core of engineering buried in that company somewhere. If they have the chops to realise that with good hardware and and an OS of their own they can finally escape Microsoft they're in with a good shout here. Really excited about this.
posted by bonaldi at 4:14 PM on April 29, 2010


I cut my Unix teeth on an old HP box running HP-UX, and would still like it back, please.

I'm down with RPN. HP networking gear is fine. I even like their consumer products. But this goes too far. Liking HP-UX is straight-up crazy talk.
posted by GuyZero at 4:42 PM on April 29, 2010


No way, it was great! (Although, to be honest, my alternatives at the time were the tiny cube Suns that ran SunOS horribly slowly or DECstations, so it wasn't hard to love)

By god, remember when there really was competition in the desktop? On the one campus we had Macs, HPs, SGIs, the Suns and the DECstations, early Linux machines, AIX boxes and I think even a few Amigas for Video Toaster in the a/v dept, all networked and each with unique strengths.

Now it's amazing if there's anything but Windows on a campus, and the networking doesn't work half as smoothly as it did with that heterogeneous morass. Fucking MS.
posted by bonaldi at 5:00 PM on April 29, 2010


I think HP is after two things: Palm's deep patent portfolio and WebOS. They have publicly stated that their "intent is to double down on WebOS."

There's a pretty interesting post on Gizmodo regarding multitasking among the mobile OSes. It's close to the mark. WebOS is the most elegant.

The dashboard notifications alone are significant, but if you add in the fact that your contacts list and calendar are connected to all your other online lists (Palm Synergy), you have two innovative features in WebOS that I cannot imagine not having in any future mobile device.

I'm surprised at HP's move, but it sounds like a win-win for HP and Palm. Now that the Microsoft Courier project is officially confirmed and killed on the same day, I'm looking to HP and their promise of vertical scaling for WebOS to deliver an enterprise-level business tablet.
posted by linux at 5:15 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Very intuitive interface, but crap for apps- wish someone would script an iPhone emulator for it so I could get some sweetness from Apple's app store.

I doubt very much that this would happen, as much for technical as for legal reasons.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:18 PM on April 29, 2010


Palm pre looks great. The only disadvantage is that it is only sold in quadband mode in Europe.

But Palm,
+ Great OS / WebOS
+ Linux based
+ not the iPhone (a little bit like Obama being not W).


HP bought it? Let's see how they go from there. I wish the would bring a hybrid between the Palm Pre and the HP48. Nothing ever beat the HP RPN calculators in power and quality. Just the buttons on my HP48 are amazing.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 5:34 PM on April 29, 2010


Other things HP has bought in the last while. I knew about EDS, but only because we had consultants who started with us as EDS, and then became HP India. They've got fingers in a lot of pie.
posted by sneebler at 6:11 PM on April 29, 2010


I got tired of being sad about the death knell of companies that used to make products I liked. They're just companies - get some new ones.
posted by Caviar at 8:12 PM on April 29, 2010


I've been looking to get some sort of thing to carry with me to browse the internet and you guys are making WebOS sound awfully nice. Should I get the Pre Plus or wait for what HP does with it? Is there any chance of a WebOS iPad-type-thing coming out?
posted by enn at 8:16 PM on April 29, 2010


I got a Pre when they were released last year. I love it. To be fair it gets a bit wiggy sometimes when I'm streaming Pandora over EvDO and getting text notifications and checking all my Gmail accounts and upgrading apps all at the same time, but it's a first generation product, so it gets a break.

But Synergy? Yeah, that rocks. As was said above, I don't think I could go back to a phone without it.

If the rumors (and wishful thinking) are true and HP takes the apparently sluggish Slate and drops WebOS on it? There in a heart beat.
posted by mkhall at 8:51 PM on April 29, 2010


Wow... HP and palm together? Are they trying to create the worst customer support department known to man?
posted by mervin_shnegwood at 8:59 PM on April 29, 2010


Just please please please give me a GSM WebOS device before my Centro dies and I have to get an Android phone.
posted by Eideteker at 9:25 PM on April 29, 2010


I didn't see the phrase "tie those two rocks together", did anybody say it yet?
posted by zvs at 10:12 PM on April 29, 2010


I dislike HP products.
posted by jeremy b at 11:18 PM on April 29, 2010


enn: There's a lot of excitement/speculation about that, and I believe that's their eventual goal (HP has stated that they want to deploy it on other devices), but nothing solid's been announced and I'd guess that it probably will be a while before it is. I'm looking forward to see how this develops, because I'd want one too.
posted by kryptondog at 6:51 AM on April 30, 2010


They have publicly stated that their "intent is to double down on WebOS."

Awesome.
posted by grouse at 7:18 AM on April 30, 2010


Just please please please give me a GSM WebOS device before my Centro dies and I have to get an Android phone.

If you're on AT&T...
posted by kmz at 7:47 AM on April 30, 2010


Double Down on WebOS? So that's two circutboards with a screen and buttons in between?

Sounds a bit unweildy, but whatever it takes in this market...
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:30 AM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


boo_radley wrote: "Look, it may be 2010, but it's not the future, jet pack boy. Dial those expectations back a notch."

Heh, I've been doing that with Symbian since 2005. (over the network, not Bluetooth or IR) Problem is that very few third party applications support printing. Well, that and it can't autodiscover printers or anything nifty like that, so you have to configure them manually, which is definitely a drag.

Most any phone that has Bluetooth will print a picture to a Bluetooth printer, also. Same with IR, not that many phones (or printers!) have that these days.

Not that any of that should take away from the neatness that WebOS appears to be. (I haven't used it, seeing as how there is still no GSM Pre)
posted by wierdo at 5:58 PM on April 30, 2010


The PalmPilots That Never Were - caution, unnecessary pagination.
posted by Artw at 8:09 AM on May 1, 2010


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