Tag Archives: palm

HP kills all WebOS hardware, software’s future is undetermined

In addition, HP reported that it plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones. HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward.

via hp.com

The worst part of this news is that some will read it as proof that trying to compete with Apple with an integrated hardware/software solution is the wrong approach.

It’s not the wrong approach. It’s just an approach that needs time and lots of losing quarters to work. The product needs to evolve, the platform needs to grow slowly over time. And a company like HP doesn’t have the patience for that.

I would feel bad about this, as I was a Palm customer for years, and I still feel some sort of strange kinship with the old company and with Jon Rubenstein, who I met once. I was rooting for WebOS, as a lot of other Apple fans were. But it wasn’t to be.

At the end of the day, I had never spent a dime of my own money on any WebOS product. So what right do I have to feel bad when the platform doesn’t survive?

And don’t think this is a failure of the integrated solution. The old Microsoft model of licensing doesn’t work, either. Android and Windows Phone are proving that. (Yes, Android is falling apart. Keep watching Google’s behavior over the next few months. They had one good year in 2010, and this year has all been downhill. And they know they need a change to salvage the thing.)

The bottom line is that no one has figured out how to beat Apple at this. And it doesn’t look like anyone will anytime soon.

You hear people say all the time that they want Apple to have strong competitors, because it’s good for Apple to have competitors to keep it on its toes. But that’s never really been true, has it? Apple generally just doesn’t pay attention to its competitors. Sure, they steal an idea or two from time to time, but does anyone think that notification center NEVER would have happened without Android?

And competition just for its own sake is useless. What Apple needs is WORTHY opponents, and it doesn’t have any.

Palm: ‘we don’t know what the hold-up is’ on mobile Flash | Electronista

Adobe hasn’t given any signs that it’s close to porting Flash to webOS, Palm said in an AT&T online app development seminar on Thursday. When asked about the multiple delays, a representative said that Palm didn’t ‘know what the hold-up is’ with getting it ready. Adobe itself hasn’t commented on the state of the webOS version or of other platforms.

The absence of updates on the status of Flash for webOS casts some doubt on Adobe’s plans. Officially, devices from all platforms should have mobile Flash 10.1 in the second half of the year, but so far the strongest sign of development has been a beta for Android 2.2 that, due to its nature, can only run on the Nexus One. Adobe is slated to speak at Verizon’s Droid X introduction and may have a finished version of Flash 10.1 ready for the event, but it’s unlikely other platforms will get attention.

via electronista.com

And people still wonder why Apple doesn’t trust its future in Adobe’s hands. Here we witness Adobe clearly giving WebOS the shaft in favor of Android. What would stop them from doing the same to Apple?

AppleInsider | Designer of notification system for Palm’s WebOS hired by Apple

One of the key players in creating Palm’s WebOS mobile operating system, a man who designed its non-intrusive notification system, is now Apple’s Senior User Interface Designer.

Rich Dellinger worked as the User Interface Design Architect at Palm for nearly 4 years. During his time there, he invented the WebOS notification system and co-developed the application framework used by the operating system found on Palm’s Pre.

Dellinger was also the visual designer, interaction designer and engineer of WebOS, and he created the icon suite for Palm, Sprint and other partner applications.

This is bad for HP and Palm, obviously, but great for Apple. The notification system in WebOS is one of the few things that is undeniably better than Apple’s. No argument. Flat out, 100% better.

I seriously hope a notifications UI overhaul will be a major “Tentpole” of iOS 5 next year. I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t make the cut for iOS 4.

Meanwhile, HP had better start thinking about how to retain its talent from the Palm acquisition. Makes no sense to buy the company for its IP and then let all the top minds go elsewhere.

Rubenstein on why the Pre has not been as successful as Palm would like

If we could have launched at Verizon prior to the Droid, I think we would have gotten the attention the Droid got. And since I believe we have a better product, I think we could have even done better,” said Jon Rubinstein, Palm’s CEO.

I agree with half of this statement. Palm definitely has the better product. But I don’t think an earlier release would have given Palm the “success” the Droid received, necessarily.

How successful the Droid actually was, few people know. We still don’t have complete sales figures. But it appears that at least the opening couple of months were pretty good. I still think the Droid’s audience was limited to über-geek males by the silly marketing campaign Verizon put out. But maybe they knew that audience was their best shot at any sort of success.

The Pre, on the other hand, has much more potential for wider market appeal. Women, in particular, would be much more likely to want a Pre or Pixi over a Droid, I’d guess. So if the Pre had been released on Verizon sooner, AND Verizon had developed a wide-reaching marketing campaign and put as much money behind it as it did the Droid, then yeah. I’d say Rubenstein would be right. But that’s a big IF.

I almost want to pick up a Pre, just to play around with WebOS more. If I could get one unlocked and not bother paying for monthly service, just use it via WiFi, that might be interesting.

I just hate to see Palm in this position. It has the best product to compete against Apple, but no one is buying it. It’s sort of the same position Apple was in throughout the ’90s. If Android stopped getting so much undeserved positive press, Palm would have a much better shot at making a go of it. They wouldn’t overtake the iPhone any time soon, but they don’t have to.

Palm still needs PR advice

I recently wrote a rather glowing article about Palm’s announcements at CES this week. I still agree with everything I said, including my final comment, that it was a marketing mistake to make those announcements when it did.   

Remember that quote that Apple fans love to repeat over and over again, back when Ed Colligan was running Palm? “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.” Ed was out of a job not long after that blunder.

Well, it seems like Palm still needs PR advice in general, which is probably the downside of hiring a CEO who worked for Apple Engineering.

Jon Rubinstein, according to several accounts, said in an interview this week that not only does he not own an iPhone; he’s never even used one.

This kind of statement is dumb on so many levels.

FIrst, the likelihood that Rubinstein has NEVER used an iPhone at all is about 2%. So, most likely he’s full of crap. Not that that’s a bad thing to be during an interview. You just need to be full of crap for the right reasons.

Second, statements like this always come off as arrogant, and the last thing Palm wants to be in its current weakened position is arrogant. This reminded me so much of all those guitar players in the eighties who claimed they never listened to Eddie Van Halen. Give me a break.

Third, if your goal is to design the best phones possible, wouldn’t you at least want to know what your competition was up to? Wouldn’t you want, as a CEO, to know exactly why the experience of your phone is so much better than the competition’s, so you could talk about it eloquently during an interview? Steve Jobs didn’t just use Treos, Blackberrys, etc. before his company released the iPhone. He put up a slide during his keynote and explained exactly why they sucked compared to his phone.

Fourth, and most importantly, you handed every tech journalist the wrong headline: “Rubinstein claims to have never used an iPhone.” Instead of “John Rubinstein shows off new Pre phone, Verizon partnership at CES.” Rubinstein actually put the competition’s name into the headline, instead of his own.

Most of what Palm is doing right at the moment is a very methodical mimicking of its biggest competitor. Denying this is silly. The only thing stopping Palm from being more successful right now are the kinds of bungled PR moves demonstrated during this interview. They should pilfer a high-level exec from Apple’s PR/Marketing department as soon as possible.

So what’s the appropriate response to that question? “I played around with an iPhone for a little, though I’ve never owned one. At Palm we approach our design…” Just admit the obvious, change the subject, and move on. Doesn’t this guy ever watch politicians?

Meanwhile Palm is up to Something Interesting

 

Android might be getting all the press lately, even from me, but it turns out that Palm, who most of us have just about written off, has been up to a lot of interesting stuff lately. 

Take today’s announcements at CES:

  • Two phones (Pre Plus and Pixi Plus) coming to Verizon. 
  • Pre and Pixi also to be available on AT&T very soon
  • Verizon phones are capable of being used as MiFi-style WiFi stations. So you can tether a number of computers to your Pre or Pixi at the coffee shop.
  • A new version of the WebOS operating system, with significant upgrades, which will be available to all existing WebOS phones as well as these new phones
  • Third-party development open to everyone, as opposed to the small test group it was released to previously. Anyone with a web browser can sign up and write apps
  • New SDK for development, which allows the use of some C+ code. (Previously all WebOS apps were HTML/Javascript only)
  • Flash 10 availability on WebOS

Let’s take some of those one by one. 

Verizon and AT&T: Palm now has phones running WebOS on 3 of the 4 major carriers in the US. Apple can’t say that. Google can’t, either. They’d like you to think that you can buy an “unlocked” Nexus One and use it anywhere, but the fact is that the only carrier you can use a Nexus One on is T-Mobile, the smallest carrier in the US.  The Droid is on Verizon. No Android phone runs on AT&T or Sprint, yet. So you have more choices with WebOS, which will allow you to choose a carrier that is more likely to have better coverage where you need it most. And, if you buy a WebOS phone today, you will still have to buy another one to switch carriers later on, but all your apps will be able to be ported over, and the UI on that phone will be consistent with what you’re used to, at least. That’s about as good as it gets in the screwed up US telco system. 

MiFi: Palm will soon have phones that you can tether on Verizon. Neither the iPhone nor the new Nexus One can be tethered in the US yet. And MiFi-type tethering is even better, because more than one laptop can use the connection at a time. So I could whip out my Pre Plus, and both me and a few of my friends can surf the web on our own laptops. Very cool. 

Updates to the WebOS being available to all WebOS phones: This is something Palm was smart to copy from Apple. Keep the number of models limited, and keep the feature sets between those models at least somewhat consistent. The Pixi and Pre both have hardware keyboards. They both have touch screens (with multi-touch, by the way, something that Google has yet to implement in the OS). They have similar specs in most regards. So you can be reasonably certain when you buy a WebOS app that it will work on your Palm WebOS phone, whichever phone that is. A developer for WebOS can also be reasonably certain that his or her app will work on the entire installed base of WebOS phones. Google’s Android OS is on many different phones now, and even some tablet devices. Each Android phone maker creates its own version of the user interface, and includes whatever features it likes. So some Android phones have keyboards. Some do not. Some have accelerometers. Some do not. Some can upgrade to the latest version of the OS. Many can not. Etc. There’s no easy way for a developer to test his or her apps on every Android device, and there’s no guarantee that the Android device I buy tomorrow will run all the apps I bought for my current Android phone today. It’s all one big crap shoot. 

The C+ code for developers and opening up the development to all: Palm made it a point to show off some A-list games running on the new WebOS update today. Very smart move. The fact that Android cannot run software anywhere near this sophisticated, thanks to its ridiculous 190MB storage limit, never seems to come up in articles about Android. If you don’t think games are important, watch an iPod Touch ad sometime. Why do you think that Apple, a company that has scorned games since its inception, suddenly features games in all its ads? And it’s not really just about games; it’s about the level of sophistication that games demonstrate on your device. WebOS just graduated from “baby software” status. And it removed the biggest weapon iPhone lovers like myself use to put down WebOS. Palm is likely to have at least a few developers consider dabbling in WebOS that wouldn’t have before. Well done. 

Flash: I couldn’t care less about Flash on a mobile device, personally. Actually, that’s not true. I care very much that Flash isn’t on my mobile device. I wish we could eradicate it from the desktop as well. It’s a memory hog. It inspires laziness in designers. It’s non-standard. It has the potential to give Adobe the same kind of control over the Internet once enjoyed by Microsoft with Internet Explorer. It’s the ultimate lazy man’s way of doing video on the web. Put simply, it’s a poison that needs to be eradicated from society. Which is why Apple and Google are trying to crush it. But Palm, who has little else it can use to differentiate itself from Apple’s offerings, is very wise to embrace Flash on WebOS. I predict that the implementation will be thoroughly disappointing. (Most Flash web sites will not work on a touch screen with your fingers, despite what everyone else seems to think. Designers, who are already too lazy to make alternate mobile versions of sites without Flash won’t suddenly try to design Flash sites that leave out all the extra features of Flash that won’t work in the mobile version, either. So what you’ll get is a phone that can “run Flash” but will actually function on one out of every ten or so Flash sites. The inconsistency will drive people totally nuts.) But that doesn’t matter. It’s a bullet point on a press release. It’s a sales tool that will probably prove at least minimally successful, until the public learns the hard way that Flash is better off dead. 

So where does that leave Palm? Six months ago, the whole world was convinced Palm would be closing its doors by now. But it turns out that the WebOS might just have some staying power. I keep hearing fans of the iPhone talk about how “Android is good, because at least someone has to give Apple some competition and keep them on their toes.” I have yet to see any Android phone that is a threat to Apple, and I see the entire Android strategy as a bad copy of everything that failed for Microsoft’s Windows Mobile over the last decade. But Palm is doing some things that Apple should be watching. At the very least, I’d be sure to sign up the iPhone with a few other US carriers in the next six months, if I were Apple. And I’d get that tethering MiFi thing happening, too. 

Maybe Palm doesn’t stand a chance against Apple, either. But if I were mounting a strategy to at least grab up enough market share to keep myself in business in what has become a very tough battle for customers, I’d probably do what Palm is doing right now. Rubinstein seems to be copying Apple’s strategy where it makes sense, while also setting up some differentiators wherever possible. Certainly, if the iPhone were no longer an option for me, for whatever reason, I’d consider WebOS long before I’d consider Android. And if I were Google, I’d take a few notes from Palm and stop trying to follow in Microsoft’s poorly-implemented footsteps. 

The biggest mistake Palm made today was the fact that it made these announcements today, at CES, in the midst of ten thousand other announcements. Here’s one area where Google was better at copying Apple. Perhaps, though, Palm doesn’t have enough pull anymore to call a special event before the big trade show and expect people to show up and pay attention. Hopefully by the next time they have something to announce, more people will be ready to lend an ear.