HP’s Second Attempt at Mobile Headed by Alberto Torres

With every major IT giant out there going into the mobile business, HP could not stand back and enjoy the show. Although, HP has had a horrid experience with the mobile over the last few years, perhaps it has learnt from its mistakes and wants to get back into the mobile sector with a fresh start. It has already re-branded the Palm business (or whatever was remaining of it) to Gram attempting to give it a new focus. Palm could boast of software that was ahead of its time and some groundbreaking products (the Treo) too, but it never had strong foundation stones. With Gram, HP is starting over with Palm.


That sounds good, isn’t it? But wait. Confusion started a few days ago, when HP circulated an internal memo talking about another mobile division inside its company, the only difference being that this one will deal with hardware instead. The group is being called the “Mobility Global Business Unit” and it will be headed by Alberto Torres, who was the head of MeeGo at Nokia. At this new unit, Torres will be the Senior Vice-President. According to HP, this group will focus on:

Additional segments and categories where we believe we can offer differentiated value to our customers.

Was it a wise decision to kill the existing Palm business and instead, bring out separate hardware and software product lines and teams? It is too early to speculate on the future prospects of this strategy. Surely, HP has something in mind when it is going through such a massive change, or is it just a shot in the dark?

(Via: The Verge)

HP’s WebOS Enyo Team is Joining Google

Earlier this year, HP released the Enyo framework source code as open source software under the Apache 2.0 license. This was done as part of HP’s bigger plan of open sourcing the entire WebOS platform. The WebOS open sourcing effort will reach a closure in August. WebOS was an excellent mobile platform and its UX has been appreciated widely. Popular mobile platforms like Android and Blackberry borrow heavily from it and this open sourcing would have helped HP create a competitive mobile platform. However, HPs plans have been disrupted with some latest development.

hp-webosThe Verge writes in an exclusive report saying that the entire WebOS Enyo team will leave HP to start working at Google shortly. This strikes a serious blow to the future of WebOS. It is not known what the awesome people in the Enyo team will do at Google. One of the best comments on the post was perhaps:

Google buys Palm for zero billion dollars.

Android took a major UX leap with design ideas from Matias Duarte and it showed in Honeycomb. Now, with the entire Enyo team and Matias Duarte under its belt, Android might just rock the mobile segment.

Google can either borrow their mobile expertise for improving the Android user experience, or leverage their HTML5 expertise to create a better ecosystem for Google Chrome and Chrome OS. Looking at the technology stack that the Enyo team worked on, the latter seems more probable. Either way, Google has gotten hold of a golden goose, which will lay golden eggs. What remains to be seen, is which way the eggs roll.

HP Still Pushing Pre 2 Updates

Despite being relegated to certain death, HP is actually still providing software updates to webOS.

Although HP has squandered millions (actually, billions)  with their acquisition of Palm for webOS, developed and then torched their TouchPad in an attempt to hit billboard status, beyond all expectations, they are still working on webOS behind the scenes. The webOS-Internals team is reporting that the Pre 2, now almost a year old, is set to receive an update to OS 2.2.4 which almost brings it to parity with features of the rare Pre 3.

If you’re unfortunate enough to have both a Pre 2 and a TouchPad, this update will allow the devices to talk over bluetooth in order to share text messages, as well as phone calls. While using bluetooth is a good way to keep the data local, iPhone and iPad users have iMessage which syncs over iCloud in order to keep your messages up-to-date on all devices, which means you don’t need to be in close proximity of your phone. A much better implementation.

Amongst all the hullabaloo concerning mobile security, webOS 2.2.4 also implements encryption for the local filesystem. This likely means system databases and essential files are either stored within a real cryptfs or are encrypted separately. Not quite as handy as having the ability to remote wipe without running your own Exchange server, but it’s a step in the right direction for data integrity.

Hopefully some bugs were squashed and there’s more to the changelog than 5 features, but judging by the package size (46MB), it’s not likely. It’s still unfortunate that webOS is floating in limbo with HP, but it’s great to see that the webOS team is still looking at the future for current users.

HP’s TouchPad Go Comes Back For More Pictures

The HP TouchPad, the tablet that never made it far out of the front gate before getting axed, has spawned life to a little brother.

The rarely seen TouchPad Go, was given a solid time in front of the camera recently. Of course, it looks exactly like a TouchPad at first glance. It’s a 7″ webOS tablet, sporting the same 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM and Beats Audio as the original TouchPad. Absolutely everything is known about this tablet, thanks to marketing slides that were leaked a few months ago.  What was never covered, is how the Go actually looks compared to the rest of the HP/Palm device line-up. For nostalgia sake, here’s a shot that will make any webOS fan cry.

A smaller form factor and some flash accessories won’t put HP back on the mobile map, unfortunately. It’s a shame that the TouchPad Go will likely have the same fate as the unreleased Pre 3 – stockpiled in a warehouse or selling like hotcakes on eBay and CraigsList. While many users are perfectly happy with their $99 TouchPad tablets, especially ones who have them running Android, the TouchPad Go will probably never be blessed with such satisfaction.

It’s truly unfortunate that HP may not even sell these devices to employees, developers or even let them go with the clear understanding of no support, no warranty and no care comes with a purchase. Looks like the 7″ tablet wars have dwindled to just a few competitors battling it out amongst themselves.

Source: Palmjoy

HP Updates TouchPad To webOS

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 Kills webOS; Plans to Spin Off Hardware Business

HP announced its Q3 results today, which were slightly below expectations. It also announced that it is in talks to buy Autonomy Corp., and is exploring alternatives to spin off its PC business, because its CEO wants to get out of the low-margin hardware business and get into the high margin software business.

However, that wasn’t the most shocking news today. This is what was: HP also announced that “it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones.”

HP TouchPad

If you remember, HP bought Palm last year primarily because it wanted to enter the tablet and smartphone markets. Palm’s webOS was one of the few good options except Android and iOS. It even launched a few new phones like the HP Pre 3, and the HP TouchPad, but they failed to make much of an impact, in terms of sales. Reportedly, some retailers were unable to sell almost 90% of their TouchPad stocks even after continued price cuts.

Even so, today’s announcement comes as a surprise. webOS was a really promising OS, which was considered by some to be better than both iOS and Android.

HP has stated that it “will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward.”, but that just seems to be PR speak for “I don’t have a clue about what I plan to do with this.”

R.I.P webOS.

PS: Google is venturing into hardware, HP wants to go all-software; it’s getting a bit crazy out here, in the tech world.

Palm Pre Gets Android 2.3 Gingerbread Port

The Palm Pre was among the first handsets in the market to run the new webOS. The OS may have never gained considerable market share, but webOS is pretty good and in some respect better than iOS or Android.

Original Palm Pre owners must be feeling left out since developers hardly care about webOS, and thus there is a lack of apps for the platform. However, one awesome Palm Pre developer k3dar – has managed to get Android dual-boot on his beloved Pre.


k3dar has managed to get AOSP build of Android 2.3 Gingerbread to dual-boot on his Pre. Sadly, the port is nowhere near usable and people have even managed to brick their Pre, while flashing this ROM. The touch screen only detects single touches for now, and the Wi-Fi and the hardware keyboard are working properly. Otherwise, Camera, Bluetooth and all other important features are not working on this port.

Palm Pre owners should head over to this thread for more information.

Ironically, most people want webOS to be ported over to some latest Android handsets and not the vice versa. Hopefully, some developers will take this challenge and work on it!

HP’s webOS 3.0 Gets Screen Captured

When HP announced the TouchPad at their press event, they also proclaimed it would be shipping with a new release of webOS their operating system based on Linux and web technologies. They’ve recently opened up their webOS 3.0 Developer Beta and are providing exclusive access to the new SDK which comes bundled with an emulator. The PreCentral blog has posted screen captures of some of the features in webOS 3.0 including a change from Google Maps to Bing Maps, a new spacious and glorious looking virtual keyboard and a very plain looking Messaging and Music interface.

Bing Maps has replaced the aging and old Google Maps app on webOS. Many webOS users complain about the slow functionality of Google Maps on their devices, hopefully this allows for the much needed faster interface as well as leveraging their existing partnerships for an overall better experience.

HP has also enabled the previously hidden virtual keyboard (all their currently available devices have physical keyboards) showing off a full 5 rows, complete with size adjustment and what looks like a button that moves the cursor to the next text field for input.

Both the Messaging and Music applications are very sparse looking, granted they are not filled up with any content. The Music player has a very minimalistic feel that provides straight forward and quick access to playback controls as well as playlist and song selection. The Messaging application uses their very popular Synergy service that integrates multiple IM services into one seamless view. Contacts on the left and content on the right, it’s very clean and concise.

The TouchPad is rumored to be available by June 2011 and coming in at a $699 price point puts it head to head with some of the competition including the Blackberry Playbook, iPad 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Hopefully webOS can shine through with the existing multitasking and integration features as well as building up their ecosystem and App Catalog.

HP Pre 2 Takes A Dive In Price While Holding On For Dear Life

The HP Pre 2 has been on select few U.S carriers for a small amount of time now and with the recent announcement of the Pre 3 and Veer, it seems that carriers are looking to clear house to make way for some of the new and upcoming smartphones. Getting new consumers and developers onto the platform is a good way to build a user-base for future devices, including the TouchPad which also runs webOS and pairs quite well with a Pre 3 and it’s Touch-to-Share capabilities

The Pre 2 is now available from Verizon for the low price of $49.99 on a 2-year contract. Unfortunately the original carrier that ushered Palm in, Sprint, is not currently offering subsidy on the Pre 2, nor are they actually carrying it. In Europe, it’s only available off-contract for a hefty price of £399 from HP or from warehouse retailers who will bundle it with a plan and give you an unlocked device. In Canada, Rogers is purported to be offering all current smartphones for their regular 36 month contract prices with an added $100 discount putting the Pre 2 available for the scoffable price of absolutely free…with a 3-year contract, that is.

WebOS is one of the newest platforms to make it bigin the wireless world, with a growing App Catalog, a thriving grassroots following of homebrew and hackers alike. According to comScore reports as of January 2011, their research on the U.S Mobile Subscriber Market Share show that Palm (now rebranded to HP) had the lowest point change in subscribers and is trailing with a 3.2% share in the market. HP is slowly but surely gnawing away at the revival and their future of everybody having a smartphone in the palm of their hand.