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Dec 19, 2014







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What killed webOS?
The tablet that was never meant to be

08/25/11
By John Andrews jandrews@hippopress.com



Hi there, HP TouchPad, the tablet running webOS originally developed by Palm. I’m sure you think I’m only getting in touch because of your recent liquidation. And I’d be lying if I denied that completely, but it was more a kick in the pants to do something I’d been meaning to do anyway.

When we first met, I wasn’t sure what to think. You’re a little different, you know that. Not everyone got you at first, and to be perfectly honest, I still don’t completely. But that’s what makes you special. You can call it niche appeal, or just uniqueness, whatever you want. Yeah, it means you weren’t flying off the shelves, but these things take time.

And then last weekend you started selling yourself so cheaply. Sure, you get wildly popular overnight, and all of a sudden people are talking about you, but no one lasts long like that. You run out of stock real fast. Even those with a genuine interest in you — who couldn’t bring themselves to make the leap before, when you were a real risk — miss out when you finally make yourself accessible by going too far.

Okay, I admit, I was never exactly busting down your door. You can’t blame a guy for noticing iPad’s sleek lines, or just hanging out with any number of Android tablets that were down for pretty much anything. And Blackberry PlayBook really just reminded me of an old friend.

It’s too bad we never got to know each other better. Did you know I once owned a Palm III? Lost track of that one, too. Way before your relatives got into phones and tablets, or even color displays. The plastic was green, it was thick, and required a stylus. I think the phlebotomists drawing blood at the Red Cross use something similar — old but proven.

I know you’re going through some family trouble. At the same time I heard about your news, I read that HP is thinking about selling off its PC business. It sounds like HP is the one with issues here, not you. It’s only one of the top PC makers in the world, but apparently it’s just not profitable enough for them. Let me tell you, even in business, it can’t always be about raw profit. There’s value to exposure and consumer trust, and that’s what HP’s PCs did for the company.

They’re also buying Autonomy, an “information management software vendor.” I’m not the first to say that it really looks like they want to be IBM, offering esoteric services to businesses rather than sell hardware. Sometimes companies need to shake things up, I guess.

Don’t beat yourself up trying to predict your family’s next move. Their press release said that “HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward.” What does it even mean? Nothing. It means nothing. Maybe they’ll try to sell it, or license it. Or maybe “optimize” translates to “just stop throwing money down that hole immediately.” And you deserve better than that.

I’m here if you want to talk.   

It’s kind of public, but you can always reach me at twitter.com/CitizenjaQ .






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