HP Updates TouchPad To webOS 3.0.4.77

Even though you didn’t get your hands on a webOS TouchPad, there’s nothing stopping HP from providing marginal updates to their defunct platform, right?

HP has just started pushing out the latest update to the their tablet, the TouchPad. It’s still webOS, although there are ways to get Android running on yours. It’s a small update, it brings the usual speed improvement, performance and stability updates, and fixes some rather huge gaps in the system (that you probably never cared about). You may have noticed that puny 1.3 MP camera on the front, but that there was no way of actually using it to take pictures; well fear no more. There is now a built-in Camera app to take care of your video and picture-taking requirements. Likely, the camera attached to your phone is more suited than the TouchPad, but it’s nice that HP has addressed this.

You also may have been having issues pairing your phone with the TouchPad — that’s because in their infinite wisdom, HP decided to disallow non-webOS devices from connecting. Well, they’ve also fixed that. You can now pair any device, smart or dumb phone to your TouchPad and use it as a phone. Thanks HP, holding and talking into a 10″ screen is exactly what I want to do. Instead, HP should have added the Bluetooth DUN profile for tethering or maybe OBEX-FTP for sharing files between devices. There’s no reason a modern mobile platform should be missing either of these. Shame on you, HP.

Of course some other minor additions such as OGG Vorbis support, and being able to actually toggle between offline and online while logged in to an IM service have been added.

These certainly are nice additions that most definitely make up for HP stabbing Palm in the back, abandoning webOS and shattering the dreams of many customers. Thanks for the bone, HP! Next time, do all your customers a favor and instead of shipping 2 or 3 devices with Android pre-installed, set it up for everybody and save yourself the PR nightmare.

Does It Make Sense for Amazon to Buy Palm (webOS) from HP?

There is a new rumor in town, and it says that Amazon is currently in negotiations with HP to buy what’s let of Palm.

HP recently discontinued webOS development, after buying Palm for $1.2 billion last year. It sold off its remaining stock of Touchpads, and is now focusing only on enterprise software. Presumably, it is willing to sell off Palm’s assets for much less than $1 billion.

Amazon is now one of the biggest contenders in the tablet space. The Kindle Fire, its $200 tablet is one of the cheapest tablets with a complete ecosystem in place. It is expected to sell around 4-5 million units by the end of 2011.

If there is some manufacturer which could bring webOS back to life, it’s probably Amazon. Apparently, even Jon Rubinstein, the former CEO of Palm feels that Amazon would be a great partner for webOS.

Amazon Kindle Fire

But does it make sense for Amazon?

For the Kindle Fire, Amazon has already completely customized Android to create a tablet tightly integrated with its own services and content platform. One of the biggest reasons people will buy the Amazon tablet is because they can still use Android apps on them, via the Amazon App Store.

If the Kindle Fire 2 were to run on webOS, Amazon would have to lure developers to webOS first, which would defeat the entire purpose of its investment in the Amazon App Store.

Given that users would rather prefer an Android tablet than a webOS one, and the fact that Amazon has already invested heavily in Android, it makes no sense to switch platforms now.

However, there may be one reason for Amazon to switch to webOS. Microsoft has been forcing almost all Android device manufacturers to sign patent licensing agreements with it, and is demanding around $5-$10 for every Android device sold. Amazon may have to sign a licensing agreement with them soon, and given the razor thin margins on the Kindle Fire, it may rather prefer to pick up webOS from HP for a few hundred million dollars, instead of paying Microsoft much more per year as licensing fees.

It’s going to be interesting.

HP TouchPad Go Marketing Material Materializes, You Still Can’t Have One

HP pulled the plug on webOS, completely liquidated the TouchPad in a fire sale and has been flopping around like a fish out of water when it comes to their CEO, but that’s not a big deal – the previously leaked TouchPad Go was ready to go to market. At least that’s what the product marketing slides and renders indicate.

PreCentral has been given official internal-use only documentation from the TouchPad Go. The images show off the hardware and design surrounding the 7″ little brother to the original TouchPad. Instead of cheap shiny plastic, the Go has a soft-touch rubbery coating, metal buttons replace the plastic chrome ones, and of course it’s in an entirely smaller package.

The regular bundle of ports, connectivity and buttons aside, there are very few changes to the aesthetics. The TouchPad Go adds a 5 megapixel camera to the rear of the tablet, manages to enable GPS for location-awareness, and also packs the newer induction coil that allows for both wireless charging and touch-to-share with the HP Veer or Pre 3. The rear camera is capable of shooting HD video (likely 720) and the measly 1.3 megapixel front-facer is best left for video chatting via Skype or Google Talk.

Chances that consumers will ever get their hands on the TouchPad Go are extremely slim. Many folks are already chomping at the bit to get Android on their TouchPads and with the recent push to smaller tablets, it’s a real shame that the TouchPad Go is unlikely to ever see shelves, even for another fire sale.

HP Eyeing New Horizons in Printing in India

HP has reinforced its commitment for growth in India through a series of new initiatives designed to deliver seamless, secure, context-aware print experiences. India is a key interest for HP being an important market as well as driving innovation at HP IPG (Image & Printing Group). HP is looking ahead to leverage the 120 billion pages opportunity in India in the next three years.

According to IDC, HP is the market leader across Laser and Inkjet printers in India in terms of unit shipments. HP is also the largest player and an end-to-end solution provider in the graphic arts and signage printing industry.   While the company is strengthening its geo-expansion programs to optimize India’s rapidly growing and young consumer opportunities in non-metro and upcountry markets, another key growth driver for IPG in India is the education sector.

Four Key Market Trends

Along the side-lines of an HP – IPG meet at New Delhi, I talked to Ajay Gupta, Vice President (R& D), HP India about the evolution of printing as it is disconnected from device and moves to cloud. Ajay has been with Hewlett-Packard since 1986, when he started his research career at HPLabs in Bristol, UK. A Computer Science graduate from IIT Kanpur, he finished his Masters degree in Artificial Intelligence from University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

As Ajay mentions in the interview, the printing industry is being redefined for business transformation by many significant trends like content explosion, mobility and web-driven new usage models, a movement from analog to digital, and service-driven business models.

image

India is driving the next generation of innovation around web-connected printing with HP India R&D hub leading the same. The team has made significant contributions to the web-connected printer program, including the development of email printing capability (ePrint). ePrint was introduced in July 2010, and since then the R&D team has worked on enabling a PrintApp ecosystem while developing the first set of applications for consumer printers allowing users to undertake paper-triggered web tasks.

With local apps like the one that works with Indian Railways train reservation system   and the seamless email-to-print feature, ePrint is a step forward to disconnect printing from the device’ and also towards an ecosystem of printing services. The vision is exciting, which explains my recent purchase of an ePrint-enabled HP Photosmart multi-function device earlier this week!

On HP’s Board, its CEO and its Future

HP has been in the news for all the wrong reasons this year. First of all, its board fired its CEO Mark Hurd over a sexual harassment scandal, which turned out to be something trivial. That was a huge mistake on the part of HP’s board, because Mark Hurd was probably one of the best CEOs HP could have had, and firing him made the stock tank.

After that it poached Leo Apotheker from SAP, who in an attempt to revitalize HP, announced that HP would be spinning off its PC business and would try to become a software company with the $10 billion acquisition of Autonomy, which by many analyst estimates, was overpriced.

Did I mention that it also killed webOS and organized a TouchPad fire sale which cost HP hundreds of millions of dollars?

Leo had always been a software guy, and coming from SAP, his strategy for HP would have eventually ended up with HP venturing into software. At least he was doing something to keep HP relevant in the impending future (which could arguably have been the right move, considering how well IBM had done after selling off the consumer PC business to Lenovo).

HP’s stock has dropped almost 30-40% since Mark Hurd’s reign, and apparently, its board is now in a state of panic. It seems to be considering firing Apotheker, and rethink its strategy. The markets seem to be cheering the board’s latest decision with the stock jumping almost 10% today. It may be right this time, but it is definitely the worst board I’ve ever seen. Even Yahoo’s board isn’t so temperamental and confused.

The next few months will be very instrumental in deciding HP’s future. The decisions its incompetent board makes will decide whether HP will live on for the next decade, or if it will fade away into obscurity.

Apple Hits New High in US Customer Satisfaction

A new report from the American Customer Satisfication Index (ACSI) reveals that Apple has once again topped the index for PC, making it eight years in a row that consumers have been most satisfed with Apple.  Apple’s score this year was up 1 percent to 87, putting the company ahead of competitors by nearly 9 points. The average score in the personal computer business was tracked at 78 points on the 0-to-100 scale.

ACSI 2011

In addition, the ACSI said that Apple’s computer satisfaction appears to be “unstoppable”. Competing PC makers topped out in 2011 with scores in 70, with HP being the highest at 78.  “In the eight years that Apple has led the PC industry in customer satisfaction, its stock price has increased by 2,300%,” said Claes Fornell, ACSI founder.    “Apple’s winning combination of innovation and product diversification—including spinning off technologies into entirely new directions—has kept the company consistently at the leading edge.”

The data for the report comes from  interviews with about 70,000 customers rating more than 225 companies in 47 industries and 10 economic sectors.

Wait a minute! How on earth is a a company that’s known to be “evil”, doesn’t dominate in marketshare, and isn’t “OPEN” has the most number of satisfied customers eight years in a row? Unreal.

HP TouchPad Go Images and Specifications Leaked

HP announced that it would be discontinuing webOS about a month ago, and that it would be offloading the remaining HP TouchPad stock at fire-sale prices. Soon after that, the HP TouchPad became the best selling tablet for a day or two, with people thronging to the stores to grab a TouchPad at just $99.

While the TouchPad stock may be almost completely disposed off now, except for a few units which HP wants to sell only to its own employees, apparently, some HP TouchPad Go tablets are yet to be disposed off. Some units seem to have been produced already, and they were leaked yesterday on a Chinese forum, where they were spotted by the guys at This is my Next.

The HP TouchPad Go was the 7 inch version of the HP TouchPad which was just a few weeks away from launch, when HP decided to kill off webOS. It sports a 7 inch capacitive touchscreen display with the same resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels. It even has the same processor as the TouchPad – a 1.5 GHz Snapdragon and comes with 1 GB RAM and 16 GB internal storage.

Hopefully, HP has a shitload of units which it will sell at $99. As I’ve said before, I’m dying to buy the HP TouchPad, and you should too. For now, check out these leaked images of the HP TouchPad Go.

HP TouchPad Go

HP TouchPad Go

Android (CyanogenMod 7) for the HP TouchPad is Almost Here!

The HP TouchPad, which no one wanted to even touch with a barge-pole, became an instant hit when HP slashed its price fown to $99, in a fire-sale for clearing all TouchPad inventory before discontinuing all webOS development. Not even the iPad must have sold as fast as the TouchPad did in those days. The TouchPad is still being sold on eBay at over a 100% premium.

I’ve already posted why I would love to buy the HP TouchPad, if I could get my hands on one. First of all, the HP TouchPad sports some killer hardware, which is probably among the best in tablets right now. Secondly, even if you aren’t a huge fan of webOS, you should soon be able to install Android on it, thanks to the efforts of the CyanogenMod and Touch-Droid teams.

Soon after the fire-sale started, these two developer teams announced that they were working on an Android Gingerbread port for the HP TouchPad already.

Here’s the first video of CyanogenMod 7 running on the HP TouchPad.

Today, the CyanogenMod team posted yet another video of Android running on the HP TouchPad. They seem to have ironed out a lot of the kinks in the previous ports.

It now supports Wi-Fi, audio and the Android Market, as well as the accelerometer. There are still a few issues, but a working Android port for the HP TouchPad by the CyanogenMod team seems imminent, considering the speed at which they have made progress.

Samsung Planning to Buy webOS from HP?

Since HP’s announcement that it was planning to spin off its PC business and discontinue webOS, there have been some major developments in the technology industry. First of all, the HP fire sale proved that there was a market for cheap tablets, and a chance for other tablet manufacturers to fight off the iPad’s dominance. Amazon is apparently already working on it, and will launch a tablet soon.

We also heard rumors that Oracle was planning a takeover bid for HP, and that Samsung was planning to acquire HP’s PC business.

Today, Digitimes reported that Samsung wasn’t actually interested in HP’s PC business. Instead, Samsung is planning to buy webOS from HP, in order to hedge its bets on the Android platform.

Samsung has been the top Android smartphone and tablet manufacturer since the Galaxy series of devices. However, with Google buying Motorola, it is feeling increasingly threatened about its status as the top dog in the mobile arena.

Samsung already has Bada, as an alternative to Android, and it’s also doing quite well in certain countries.

There may be another reason why Samsung is contemplating buying webOS – patents. Palm had a pretty solid portfolio of patents which could help Samsung fight off the patent infringement lawsuits filed by Apple over the Galaxy devices.

None of these reports have been confirmed by Samsung, but if there is any truth to them, we should see an official announcement soon.

CyanogenMod 7 (Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread) Running on the HP TouchPad

There were many reasons why people rushed to buy the HP TouchPad, whose price was slashed to $99 after HP discontinued webOS. The most important reason was the ridiculously low price. Who wouldn’t want to buy that type of great hardware for just $99? However, there was another very important incentive for people to buy a TouchPad – Android.

Soon after HP announced the TouchPad fire sale, some Android developers announced that they would start working on an Android port for the TouchPad. Since Google hadn’t open-sourced Honeycomb, they announced that they would be bringing Android 2.3 Gingerbread to the TouchPad.

Today, the CyanogenMod team announced that they have had some minor breakthroughs, and showed us some videos of CyanogenMod running on the TouchPad. They compiled Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread from source and have managed to get it running on the TouchPad. However, a lot is yet to be done. They haven’t been able to get the touchscreen working, but rest assured, the best Android developer team on the planet is working on it.

Here’s the video of CyanogenMod 7 (Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread)running on the HP TouchPad:

Here’s the official announcement by the CyanogenMod team on RootzWiki:

Hey Internet/RootzWiki–

Here is some (older) touchpad progress from Friday. The Cyanogenmod team wanted to share it with the public as a blatant publicity stunt to bring attention to our need for a few more touchpads (for developers currently working without them).

As you can see from this quick demo, we’ve been working hard and have made progress. Since this video was created last week, the build has been more “tabletized” (tablet tweaks added, etc.), lvm support has been added, and 2d hardware acceleration should appear very soon.

The touchscreen driver issue is now the focus of our attention.

Our ultimate vision is to create a *multiboot* solution where the end user will be able to boot into WebOS, Cyanogenmod, and/or other OSes. This appears to be very possible, and we have discussed several potential implementations with our new friends in the WebOS development community to make it easy for an end-user to set up.

For the moment though, we need about 4 tablets, as we have talented and experienced developers who cannot contribute effectively due to a lack of hardware. If you have an extra touchpad and are willing to help the cause, please let us know in the comments below.

A BIG CAVEAT– PLEASE DO NOT ASK FOR ETAS. For the uninitiated, this is the #1 rule for Cyanogenmod. It will certainly be a long while before our goals become reality. Our goals incidentally are not connected with any bounty– we are motivated to do it right, not do it fast.

And now the obligatory shout outs– Thanks to rootzwiki and all the devs and everyone else who are collaborating and contributing to this project. You know who you are, you.

The CM team
www.cyanogenmod.com

PS- Yes, this is gingerbread (Android 2.3.5). Everything you see, except for bootie the bootloader (a great kid’s show btw), was compiled from source.