webos

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HP announced today that they have sold most of the webOS business to LG, who wants to use the operating system in their smart TV’s.  Read on for details.

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HP announced today that they have sold most of the webOS business to LG, who wants to use the operating system in their smart TV’s.  LG will acquire the webOS source code, most of the development staff and two physical locations in the Silicon Valley, and this will augment their Silicon Valley development activity going forward.  HP retains the patent portfolio acquired with Palm, licensing out the required patents for LG’s use, and will also retain the cloud aspects of the webOS team (such as the backup functionality for TouchPads and the application store), and plans to use that technology in future enterprise-facing cloud solutions going forward.  HP will also continue to support legacy Palm and webOS users.  Open webOS and Enyo will continue to be supported by LG.  LG expects the first TV’s with webOS technology to be shown at CES in January 2014.  Here is the press release:

LG Electronics Acquires webOS from HP to Enhance Smart TV

LG to License HP IP, Integrate webOS Technology into Next-Generation Devices

SEOUL, Korea, and PALO ALTO, Calif. — LG Electronics Inc. has acquired the webOS operating system technology from HP, the companies announced today.

To support its next-generation Smart TV technology, LG has entered into a definitive agreement with HP to acquire the source code, associated documentation, engineering talent and related websites associated with webOS. As part of the transaction, LG also will receive licenses under HP’s intellectual property (IP) for use with its webOS products, including patents acquired from Palm covering fundamental operating system and user interface technologies now in broad use across the industry.

Today’s announcement paves the way for continued innovation on the webOS platform and on LG’s roadmap of innovative solutions for many years to come, while allowing HP to focus its resources on strategic business opportunities such as cloud computing.

“This groundbreaking development demonstrates LG’s commitment to investing in talent and research in Silicon Valley, one of the world’s innovation hotbeds. It creates a new path for LG to offer an intuitive user experience and Internet services across a range of consumer electronics devices,” said Skott Ahn, president and chief technology officer, LG Electronics Inc. “The open and transparent webOS technology offers a compelling user experience that, when combined with our own technology, will pave the way for future innovations using the latest Web technologies.”

Ahn explained that LG Electronics’ investment in webOS technology and its acquisition of the innovation team’s R&D capabilities are expected to extend LG’s leadership in bringing Internet services directly to consumer electronics devices. “Integrated with LG, this team will be the heart and soul of the new LG Silicon Valley Lab, focused on bringing innovative technology solutions to market through the most popular platforms for sharing and consuming content and experiences,” he said. With the transaction, LG will add the Sunnyvale and San Francisco sites to its global R&D locations, in addition to its existing U.S. sites in San Jose and Chicago.

Also under the agreement:

  • LG will assume stewardship of the open source projects of Open WebOS and Enyo.
  • HP will retain ownership of all of Palm’s cloud computing assets, including source code, talent, infrastructure and contracts.
  • HP will continue to support Palm users.

“WebOS and its associated community deliver market leading platforms for the next generation of connected devices. We are constantly looking for opportunities to accelerate the delivery of this platform from the community,” said Bill Veghte, HP’s chief operating officer. “LG’s track record of innovation and broad distribution provides this opportunity, while enabling HP to accelerate our Cloud efforts. In particular, with the cloud assets that will remain with HP, we will focus on delivering innovative solutions that will enable our enterprise customers to mobilize their workforce.”

HP and LG do not expect this transaction to have a material impact on either company’s financial statements. Terms were not disclosed.

No terms were disclosed, but the deal was not expected to be material to either firm.

And so ends the HP-Palm debacle with HP now shipping Android and Windows 8 tablets, and webOS relegated to smart TV’s.  From LG’s standpoint, it gives them a team of talent based in the Silicon Valley that should be able to add value to their smart TV line.  HP is probably pretty happy to have sold off this underperforming business and I expect gave LG a very good deal.  Let’s hope that the people involved in this deal end up in a more stable situation going forward.

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dots & lines announced the discontinuation of Carbon and Graphite, Twitter apps for webOS.  Read on for details.

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dots & lines, the developers behind Carbon and Graphite, the best Twitter apps for webOS, announced on Saturday the discontinuation of the products.  Not surprising, but since I am a user of Graphite, bad news.  Here is what they had to say:

End of the line for Carbon & Graphite on webOS

It’s been 364 days since Carbon launched in Palm App Catalog. A day and it would complete a full year. A couple of weeks from our launch a very popular Twitter client “Tweed” from Pivotal Labs was ending its era and with a tiny cooperation with us they recommended their users to move to Carbon while we offered discounts for a month for users to move. While that was an exciting moment for us, it was a sad time for Tweed users as we went through their tweets, they used that app for more than a year. Right at that moment I thought to myself & hoped this day would never come for Carbon, it was sad. And now, I’m at that position.

What is sad about this is the fact that Carbon started as a personal project, before even having a Tablet version, a Windows Phone, or an Android version. It was an app that I was writing for my own use as I wasn’t happy with the free Twitter apps that were available at the time on App Catalog. As you know due to Geo-Restrictions of the App Catalog I couldn’t buy the quality apps, so I wrote mine. Posted a few screenshots with #webOS hashtag on Twitter, and what do you know! An awesome tweep @JohnnyPre(he’s an Android user now) picks it up and retweets it, at the time I wasn’t aware of the webOS community, I just loved my Pre phones. And it just started from there. It became a serious project after launching it.

Maintaining a Twitter app is real commitment that needs to be financially feasible unless it’s a free app done for fun of it. When I took Carbon seriously I put targets, and read the webOS scene deeper, there was a great potential, big promises from webOS folks on the growth of user base and handhelds out in the Market. And we waited for a long time. Nada! And then was our Tablet version “Graphite”. And then was Leo. Oh Leo!

The reason we’re discontinuing “Carbon” on webOS is because we don’t want to have it become an app that is not updated, broken as it has been in the last couple of months. Twitter API changes regularly and that at times could break apps and call for regular updates to keep up with the API, that from a side, and keeping an app that we ourselves don’t personally use anymore? That is tough.

As we discussed this with our friends we’ve been getting calls for open-sourcing Carbon. While that is a great idea, we’ll have to plan that as maintaining an open-source project is something that we haven’t done before and our code has to get polished for developers to make good use of. Our code is a year old, written on a discontinued Framework that is “Mojo” by Palm. While it’s a very skeptical and doubtful about the whole open-sourcing we’re open for talks, you’re a kick ass developer on webOS? Want in? Have ideas and want to guide us go open-source? Hit me at saleh[at]dotsandlines[dot]com.

It’s hard to say this, but this should be it for Carbon on webOS. Carbon could not be anything of what it is on other platforms if it wasn’t for the great webOS community that carried it for the past year and specially every one of our friends who alpha & beta tested Carbon and made the app what it was at the time of launch. Thanking each of you. Thanking every awesome webOS user who bought our app, kept it patient with our bugs and put up with our shortcomings, thank you all!

The app and its tablet version Graphite is now taken off of the App Catalog. Time to turn the page.

They have offered to issue refunds to anyone who purchased either app in the last two weeks via a Twitter post;  if you just bought it and wish to get a refund, Tweet them on @GraphitewebOS and they’ll help you with a refund.

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HP today announced the roadmap to full open source status for webOS and the related Enyo platform.  Read on for details.

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HP announced a few weeks ago that they intended to contribute webOS, the operating system acquired when they purchased Palm, to the open source community following the failure of the TouchPad.  Today, they announced the plan to release the code.  Here are the important parts of the press release:

HP to Commit webOS to Open Source by Fall 2012

New version of acclaimed Enyo developer tool and source code available now

PALO ALTO, Calif., Jan. 25, 2012

HP today began executing its plan to deliver an open webOS by committing to a schedule for making the platform’s source code available under an open source license.

The company aims to complete this milestone in its entirety by September.

HP also announced it is releasing version 2.0 of webOS’s innovative developer tool, Enyo. Enyo 2.0 enables developers to write a single application that works across mobile devices and desktop web browsers, from the webOS, iOS and Android platforms to the Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers – and more. The source code for Enyo is available today, giving the open source community immediate access to the acclaimed application framework for webOS.

By contributing webOS to the open source community, HP unleashes the creativity of hardware and software developers to build a new generation of applications and devices.

“HP is bringing the innovation of the webOS platform to the open source community,” said Bill Veghte, executive vice president and chief strategy officer, HP. “This is a decisive step toward meeting our goal of accelerating the platform’s development and ensuring that its benefits will be delivered to the entire ecosystem of web applications.”

The webOS code will be made available under the Apache License, Version 2.0, beginning with the source code for Enyo.

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HP released a nice update to webOS for TouchPad users.  Read on for details!

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HP continues to update webOS for TouchPad users.  Here is the blog post from HP explaining what they changed:

webOS 3.0.5

The HP webOS 3.0.5 update enhances core apps like Email and Calendar, improves the video calling experience, and fixes additional bugs.

  • Faster switching between Day, Week, and Month views, and faster event display in Calendar.
  • Faster scrolling when reading an email message.
  • Email attachments are now saved with draft messages.
  • Added sender photos and IM presence indicators in Email.
  • Improved stability when watching video in the Web app.
  • Improved handling of MP3s that are transferred from a computer using USB Drive mode.
  • Added a dedicated view of contacts available for a video call, for quicker setup of a video call.
  • New alert when video quality might be lower because of network issues.
  • When typing, pressing the space bar twice inserts a period. This can be toggled on and off.
  • Auto-correction can be turned off directly from the onscreen keyboard.
  • Added support for HTTP Live Streaming.

I updated my TouchPad tonight and noticed some improvements, particularly in the calendar and email applications.  If you are also sporting a TouchPad, go ahead and do the over the air update!

[button link="http://blog.palm.com/palm/2012/01/an-update-on-updates.html" style="info" window="yes"]HP Updates webOS For TouchPad[/button]

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HP finally announced the future of webOS today, and it’s going Open Source.

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This is the press release:

HP to enable creativity of the community to accelerate the next-generation web-centric platform

PALO ALTO, Calif., Dec. 9, 2011


HP today announced it will contribute the webOS software to the open source community.

HP plans to continue to be active in the development and support of webOS. By combining the innovative webOS platform with the development power of the open source community, there is the opportunity to significantly improve applications and web services for the next generation of devices.

webOS offers a number of benefits to the entire ecosystem of web applications. For developers, applications can be easily built using standard web technologies. In addition, its single integrated stack offers multiplatform portability. For device manufacturers, it provides a single web-centric platform to run across multiple devices. As a result, the end user benefits from a fast, immersive user experience.

“webOS is the only platform designed from the ground up to be mobile, cloud-connected and scalable,” said Meg Whitman, HP president and chief executive officer. “By contributing this innovation, HP unleashes the creativity of the open source community to advance a new generation of applications and devices.”

HP will make the underlying code of webOS available under an open source license. Developers, partners, HP engineers and other hardware manufacturers can deliver ongoing enhancements and new versions into the marketplace.

HP will engage the open source community to help define the charter of the open source project under a set of operating principles:

  • The goal of the project is to accelerate the open development of the webOS platform
  • HP will be an active participant and investor in the project
  • Good, transparent and inclusive governance to avoid fragmentation
  • Software will be provided as a pure open source project

HP also will contribute ENYO, the application framework for webOS, to the community in the near future along with a plan for the remaining components of the user space.

Beginning today, developers and customers are invited to provide input and suggestions at http://developer.palm.com/blog/.

Today, I bring you my impressions of the HP TouchPad tablet running webOS. Read on for details.

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As you probably already know, HP introduced and cancelled their webOS tablet called the TouchPad. I managed to buy two, one for my father as his welcome to the internet, and one for me. I have to say that at the pricing of $149 each, these were steals. I’ll give you my impressions, pros and cons, and then some concluding commentary at the end of the review.

First, let’s document what I want to use a tablet for in my house. Here is a list of the tasks that I like to perform with tablets:

  • Stream video from my home server. I use MP4 files, encoded in h.264 video and AAC audio, as well as WMV files. I like to stream these to tablets in the house.
  • Load video and audio files locally for playback. It’s nice to watch the latest Hawaii 5-0 and Two and a Half Men episodes while I am travelling, so I want to be able to play back content locally.
  • Email. I manage five or six personal email clients, including a Live IMAP account, a GMAIL account, an IMAP account for a website that I webmaster, and an Exchange Active Synch. In addition, my employer uses Lotus Notes and I’d like to be able to use the Traveller app to get my email and calendar.
  • WordPress comment moderation and light post editing. I webmaster a website for my daughter’s school’s PTA organization. I like to be able to moderate comments in WordPress and be able to make light edits to items already posted, like adding tags and categories to content posted by the other volunteers.
  • Twitter. I love keeping up with Twitter and like to use the tablets to do that.
  • Facebook management. Keeping up with my family’s Facebook content is another task that I like to perform on a tablet.
  • Web surfing. I like to be able to go anywhere on the internet, flash or no flash. I expect full and broad website support in the browser on a tablet.
  • Skype. I use Skype to keep in touch with family back in Ohio and would like a tablet to do that.
  • Amazon Kindle support. Reading Kindle books on a tablet is really nice, particularly when travelling as it lightens the load in my briefcase.
  • Light games. Think Need for Speed and Angry Birds here. I usually game on a full PS3 at home, but it is nice to have the ability to play a game here and there, particularly with a nine-year-old in the house.
  • Content creation. I like to be able to create Word documents and to be able to read and lightly edit Excel and PowerPoint files.
  • Remote access to content.  Being able to access content while on the move is a nice feature to have.

These are the main tasks that I like to perform with tablets, and will go down each one to tell you how the TouchPad fares. Keep in mind that we have an iPad, iPad 2 and a Windows 7 tablet in the house in addition to a TouchPad, so I’ll give you some comparisons to these tablets as we go.

Streaming Media in the Home

I have a HP EX475 Media Smart Server in the home running both Twonky and Microsoft’s Media Connect DLNA servers. As mentioned above, I like to stream video in MP4 (H.264/AAC encoding) and WMV formats. The TouchPad media player supports the MP4 format with no issue, but not the WMV format. This is not that big of a deal since everything that I have in WMV is also in MP4, so as long as the media player for the device supports MP4, we are good. I have loaded the app BHomePro from the webOS app store and it works very well with the Twonky server. I’ve streamed MP4 videos, JPG photos and music files inside the home with no issues and very good performance. In order to stream locally to an iPad, I needed to install Air Video onto the Windows Home Server and load that client onto the iPad. That works very well, but I prefer to leverage plain old DLNA rather than having to load another piece of server-side software to make it work.

Loading Video and Music Content Locally

The TouchPad allows you to load content directly to the device without having to use an intervening software. Simply connect the device to the source computer with the USB cable, put it into USB mode, and drag and drop your files onto the device. I hate having to import media into iTunes before loading content onto an iPad and this workflow is not required on the TouchPad. Of course, if you like that workflow, use the HP Play application (still in beta, BTW) to manage the synching operation. With 32GB of space, I have more than enough room to carry music, videos and photos with me while travelling.

Email Support

The TouchPad was very easy to configure my personal email accounts. In fact, the set up for Exchange Active Synch worked automatically while I had to manually specify servers for the iPad’s email client. In addition, the HP Synergy feature that allows me to link contact information from different applications makes emailing and Skyping and SMS texting much easier than before. Contact information from Facebook, GMAIL, Live, EAS, and other IMAP accounts comes into the Contacts application. As I send emails to people not in my contact list, Synergy adds them and allows me to link their email account information to pre-existing contact information stored in my other online accounts.

As far as sending emails, the composing app is very easy to use. I also picked up a Bluetooth keyboard to connect to the TouchPad, and find it simple to compose long messages with either the on-screen or Bluetooth keyboard.

My employer uses Lotus Notes and mandates use of Lotus Traveller software to get access to email and calendar functions on mobile devices.  Since webOS is not supported by Lotus any longer, I am out of luck getting corporate email.  I can use the web access client, but meeting notices don’t work as they require a browser plug-in that has not been developed by Lotus.  I am pretty much out of luck getting my corporate email on the TouchPad, where I can use either Traveller or the browser on the iPad.  If your employer uses Exchange Active Synch, the TouchPad will work well for you.

WordPress Moderation and Post Editing

My experience here has been mixed. There is a WordPress app in beta form that allows the normal mobile device access, and I’ve used it on the iPad to fix typos, add categories, moderate comments and the like with no real issues. It is not a replacement for Windows Live Writer, but it works for on-the-go maintenance duties. The issue is with the webOS client, any time I edit a post, the posting date is changed to November 1999 and so the post falls off of the website. You need to log into WordPress and revise the posting date. This bug renders the client useless for post editing and I hope that the webOS version is fixed at some point. However, the WordPress dashboard renders perfectly in the web browser, so I can make those edits that way, but score this one Advantage iPad until and unless the webOS client is fixed.

Twitter

I use the Twitter app called Graphite on the TouchPad. Graphite is the best Twitter app that I have ever used, hands down. It is much easier to read forwards, looks better, and is easier to get around in than any of the iOS Twitter applications. In addition, the Twitter web page works fine in the TouchPad browser. Graphite gives the advantage to the TouchPad over the iPad for Twitter use.

Facebook

HP developed the first tablet-specific Facebook app for the TouchPad and it has become my preferred way of using Facebook. In addition, any photos that you post to Facebook automatically synch to your Photos app on the TouchPad and are available for viewing on the TouchPad offline.  The iOS tablet Facebook app is also very nice, but the ease of use advantage goes to the TouchPad here.

Web Surfing

The browser on the TouchPad supports flash and so my EX475 media streaming application works fine over the internet. This is a huge advantage over the iPad, which requires Air Video and some port forwarding on the router to accomplish the same thing. While browsing is not tabbed, you can open up additional card views and have multiple websites open at the same time. One drawback, though, is the browser can be a bit slow in rendering complex pages. The ability to run flash offsets the speed issues for me, so advantage TouchPad.

Skype

We use Skype to video chat with family back in Ohio and the ability to do that on a tablet is a distinct advantage. Of course, since the iPad does not have a camera, you can’t Skype video chat with that tablet. My wife’s iPad 2 has the capability to Skype and it works rather well, but most of the time we use my Windows 7 tablet or my Windows 7 desktop for video chatting.

The TouchPad integrates Skype into the phone and messaging application, so it handles Skype out of the box. Just configure your Skype account when setting up your online accounts. Before the recent webOS update, Skype video chatting was choppy. Since then, I’ve noticed a much-improved Skype experience. In addition, it is simple enough to use that my father can now Skype with us over his TouchPad. This works well for us.

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UK-based Picsel has released their document creation and editing suite SmartOffice for the webOS-based HP Touchpad.  Read on for details!

UK-based Picsel recently announced that they have released SmartOffice for webOS-based HP TouchPads.  This brings another choice to the platform, which shipped from HP with Quickoffice installed.

About the Company and the Product

Here is how Picsel describes themselves:

About Picsel

Turning exciting ideas into compelling reality.

Picsel is a dynamic mobile solutions provider, whose pioneering software enables true office mobility. Key stakeholders such as handset OEMs and Operators – use Picsel’s solutions to deliver a vibrant and visually stunning mobile experience that rivals, and often supersedes, the desktop PC experience. Established in 1998, the company employs over 60 staff at its headquarters in Glasgow, Scotland and Korea. The company’s technology has shipped more than 500 million units worldwide, with a customer list that includes LG, NTT DoCoMo, Samsung and Sharp.

Picsel’s aim is to empower Operators and OEMs by allowing the creation of visually stunning and interactive applications that drives the uptake of handsets and services, and build relationships with end user communities. As the mobile market continues to incorporate more advanced media for mobile workers, such as video, enterprise services and user-generated content, Picsel’s proven technology and highly skilled team will become increasingly pivotal in the development of the broader mobile industry.

Here is how Picsel describes SmartOffice and why they released it for webOS:

Picsel UK, a dynamic mobile solutions provider, is pleased to announce the release of Picsel SmartOffice™ for HP WebOS.

In August Picsel UK received an overwhelming response from the WebOS community to a viral video showing a test port of SmartOffice™ on an HP Touchpad. Picsel UK committed to releasing a version of SmartOffice™ on the HP App Catalog. The company has worked closely with HP in delivering a flagship premium application. The Picsel SmartOffice™ for WebOS release gives HP WebOS users a choice and ability to download the first independent mobile office productivity suite available on the App Catalog.

From the 24th October users can purchase Picsel SmartOffice™ for the HP Touchpad from the App Catalog. SmartOffice™ provides superior document viewing and editing capabilities for Microsoft® Word and Excel, and is currently the only application for WebOS that enables you to create and edit Microsoft® PowerPoint documents.

SmartOffice™ makes creating, editing and sharing Microsoft® Office and other documents on the move even easier through contextual menus, a drag and drop interface and sharing to email, Dropbox and Google Docs™. SmartOffice™ for WebOS is a true mobile office experience. Here are just some of the great features:

  • Create and edit Microsoft® Word, Excel and PowerPoint Documents
  • View Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, Txt and many image file types
  • Send files as email attachments
  • Cloud integration with Dropbox and Google Docs™
  • Delete, copy and rename files in the SmartOffice™ file explorer
  • Slide show mode in PowerPoint
  • Full screen view – use the whole screen to view your document. Tap at the top of the screen to show the menu.
  • Pages view – navigate document easily and quickly with 3D pages view
  • N-Up: zoom out to show multiple pages, dynamically arranged on screen
  • 3D Stereo View – convert any document or image to 3D instantly to view using anaglyph glasses

Picsel UK will continue to develop SmartOffice™ for WebOS. Future releases will include feature enhancements such as Autoshapes for PowerPoint and UI enhancements.

This software allows you to view Microsoft Office documents and perform some light editing on the TouchPad, and can even support creation of simple documents.  The real differentiation here from Quickoffice is the ability to edit PowerPoint documents with better fidelity.

Features

Here is what Picsel had to say about product features:

General
  • Alternative user interface for tablet devices
  • Support for native device buttons (e.g. Android Back button)
Visual Explorer
  • Recent documents option – this lists the documents users have accessed before, regardless of where they have been saved
  • Thumbnail view for recent documents and templates
  • Save As – allows users to rename their documents and resave them into new locations
  • Cloud file hosting capabilities – Dropbox has been integrated into Picsel Smart Office to allow users to save files automatically onto the online cloud service, and then these files can be shared by multiple computers. Simply add in a Dropbox username and password, and then when documents are saved into the Dropbox folder on Picsel Smart Office, they will be uploaded to the main Dropbox folder online and visible practically immediately (time taken depends on speed of internet connection to upload the file)
Editing
  • Inline editing of text in Word and PowerPoint
  • Multi-level Undo and Redo
  • Excel Function picker – when you are editing a cell’s formula, Picsel Smart Office will allow you to insert a function from more than 100 options. Other formulae can be entered in manually and the function will be processed the next time the spreadsheet is loaded into Microsoft Office Excel
  • Excel Number formatting – this specifies how the value of the cell should be rendered such as a date or very large number
  • Manage PowerPoint slides – Click on the Slide Sorter within PowerPoint, and users can now reorder or delete slides. To delete, simply hold down on the slide you want to delete, and select delete from the callout box. To reorder, simply hold down on the slide you want to move, and drag to its new position
Supported Document formats
  • Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2003, XP, 2007: .doc .docx
  • Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2003, XP, 2007: .xls .xlsx
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 97, 2000, 2003, XP, 2007: .ppt .pptx
  • Adobe Acrobat PDF 1.0 to 1.7: .pdf *
  • Images: .jpg (.jpeg) .png .bmp .wmf .emf .gif
  • Plain text: .txt
  • selected features of pdf v1.0 to 1.7 supported

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I’ve read some impassioned pleas from webOS and TouchPad fans asking HP to bring back the webOS device business.  Here’s my thoughts on why that will never happen.

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Before I begin, I wanted to say upfront that I really like the TouchPad.  The accessories are first-rate and I love the interface that webOS brings to the table.  I have two on order from HP and expect to use them, and I respect the HP/Palm team that brought this product to market.  They did good work.  This is purely a function of math and the implications of first-mover advantage for Apple.  Here’s what I mean.

The Numbers

There is a great group called iSuppli that does teardown estimation for products to get a handle on costs.  The HP TouchPad was given the teardown treatment here, and we get a good handle on what HP had invested in each unit sold.  For this analysis, I assume that iSuppli is in the ballpark when estimating the TouchPad’s costs.  The following shows a summary of the iSuppli teardown study:

16GB

32GB

Bill of Material Costs

$296.15

$318.15

Assembly Costs

$10.00

$10.00

Total Costs

$306.15

$328.15

When you assume that HP would sell these units at full list price, here is what the potential profit assumptions are:

16GB

32GB

Total

Retail Price

$499

$599

Expected Profit/Unit

$192.85

$270.85

$231.85

Expected Volumes

250,000

250,000

500,000

Profit Potential

$48,212,500

$67,712,500

$115,925,000

I had to make a few assumptions.  I don’t have their unit sales projections, but surfing the web lately, there are estimates of about 500,000 of these products were made and stocked for the product launch.  I assumed a 50% weighting of the 16GB and 32GB versions, and there are no transportation charges from Asia to North America built into these costs.

So HP clearly expected this first run of about 500,000 tablets to earn a profit before taxes and distribution costs of over $100 million USD.  Hey, sounds like a winner, right?  Who wouldn’t launch this run of product if there is a chance to make $100 million in the quarter?

Now for reality:

16GB

32GB

Total

Firesale Price

$99

$149

Firesale Unit Loss

$(207.15)

$(179.15)

$(193.15)

Expected Volumes

250,000

250,000

500,000

Loss

$(51,787,500)

$(44,787,500)

$(96,575,000)

Ouch!  No wonder Leo got whacked!  HP may have lost almost $100 million selling the first batch, and if the second batch of 200,000 is added in, the loss before taxes approaches $135 million. Note that this estimate excludes any penalties for breaking assembly contracts, letting people go, other shutdown costs and any payments that might have to be made to dispose of Pre3 and Veer phones that can’t be sold.  I think you can see why the board would immediately question any CEO would proposed restarting the product line.

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HP held a conference call for analysts tonight to talk about the leadership change that we told you about here.  Read on for details.

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HP held a conference call to introduce Meg Whitman as CEO and Ray Lane as Executive Chairman.  Here are some of the highlights.

Strategy

PSG

Both Lane and Whitman confirmed that the initiatives previously announced remain on track.  The PC hardware division Personal Systems Group (PSG) may be spun off depending on the results of the strategic analysis currently underway.  If HP believes that the business would create more value for customers and investors as a separate entity, then it will be spun off.  If not, then it will remain inside HP.  Ray Lane mentioned that an outside entity still might be selling HP branded product; Whitman promised an answer by the end of the year.

Autonomy

HP announced its intent to buy the UK firm Autonomy in August.  They intend to close that deal by year end.

webOS

Whitman confirmed that HP is looking to extract value from webOS software.  It is clear that no change with respect to webOS devices is being contemplated.  No more Pres, Veers or Touchpads.  No announcement was made concerning potential licencees.

Search Process

Analysts on the call asked how the search process was managed.  Since Apotheker was hired 11 months ago, Lane pointed out that they knew the outside candidates well.  Lane mentioned that there are people inside HP that will be ready to be CEO but are not ready today, and said that the board wants the next CEO to be an internal hire.

Lane was asked about the timeline of the search process and his answer was revealing.  Apotheker missed quarterly results two quarters in a row, and then the announcements on August 18th were very badly handled.  The board, over half of whom came on board after Apotheker was hired, gradually lost confidence in his leadership and execution abilities.

Whitman has been an active board member and the board felt comfortable that there was not a better person available for the job.

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As we’ve been hearing for days, Leo Apotheker is out and Meg Whitman is in at the top of HP.  Read on for details.

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HP made the changes at the top that have been rumored for days.  Here is what HP had to say:

HP today announced that its board of directors has appointed Meg Whitman as president and chief executive officer.

In addition, Ray Lane has moved from non-executive chairman to executive chairman of the board of directors, and the board intends to appoint a lead independent director promptly. These leadership appointments are effective immediately and follow the decision that Léo Apotheker step down as president and chief executive officer and resign as a director of the company.

“We are fortunate to have someone of Meg Whitman’s caliber and experience step up to lead HP,” said Lane. “We are at a critical moment and we need renewed leadership to successfully implement our strategy and take advantage of the market opportunities ahead. Meg is a technology visionary with a proven track record of execution. She is a strong communicator who is customer focused with deep leadership capabilities. Furthermore, as a member of HP’s board of directors for the past eight months, Meg has a solid understanding of our products and markets.”

Whitman said, “I am honored and excited to lead HP. I believe HP matters – it matters to Silicon Valley, California, the country and the world.”

Speaking on behalf of the board, Lane said, “We very much appreciate Léo’s efforts and his service to HP since his appointment last year. The board believes that the job of the HP CEO now requires additional attributes to successfully execute on the company’s strategy. Meg Whitman has the right operational and communication skills and leadership abilities to deliver improved execution and financial performance.”

As of 1600 Eastern, HP (NYSE: HPQ) was trading at $22.80, down $1.18 on a day that saw equities overall selling off in the face of worries about European banks and slowdowns in China’s manufacturing sector.

This is really an odd development.  Apotheker was hired 11 months ago, and the board is essentially saying that he lacked the communication and leadership abilities to handle the job.  Here’s hoping that Whitman can right the ship and establish some stability in the company’s leadership.

Many people will wonder if Whitman will bring back webOS devices and reverse the spinoff of the PC group that Apotheker announced just last month.  My bet is that webOS is still very dead, but really I doubt that anyone can answer either question today.

In addition, HP has scheduled a conference call to explain all of this at 1700 Eastern:

Financial analyst conference call details

HP will host an audio webcast for financial analysts and stockholders to discuss today’s announcement. Details are below:

When: Sept. 22, 2 p.m. PT / 5 p.m. ET

URL: http://h30261.www3.hp.com/phoenix.zhtml?p=irol-eventDetails&c=71087&eventID=4204723

It is recommended that attendees dial in 15 minutes early to avoid registration delays.

Tune in if you have time and hear the company spin.  At any rate, I’ll bring you updates as more information becomes available.

[button link="http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/newsroom/press/2011/110922xb.html?mtxs=rss-corp-news" style="info" window="yes"]HP Press Release[/button]

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HP published an update on TouchPad availability today.  Read on for details!

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The HP blog site The Next Bench published an update, announcing that HP was making more TouchPads to cover demand.  Here is what they said:

I finally have some solid news to share about TouchPad availability.

Before I share, let me first say thank you for enthusiasm for this product. Since we announced the price drop, the number of inquiries about the product and the speed at which it disappeared from inventory has been stunning. I think it’s safe to say we were pleasantly surprised by the response.

Despite announcing an end to manufacturing webOS hardware, we have decided to produce one last run of TouchPads to meet unfulfilled demand. We don’t know exactly when these units will be available or how many we’ll get, and we can’t promise we’ll have enough for everyone. We do know that it will be at least a few weeks before you can purchase. See more information in the updated FAQs below.

Bryna (@BrynaatHP) and I (@MarkatHP) will update you here and on Twitter on the status of the new batch of systems. Please continue to share your thoughts and questions with us. Although we can’t respond to every one directly, we are sharing your feedback with teams inside HP.

Q: When is HP getting more HP TouchPads? One week, two weeks, a month?

A limited supply are coming and it will be a few weeks before they are available. As we know more about how, when, and where TouchPads will be available, we will communicate that here and through email to those who requested notification. We can tell you that HP’s Small and Medium Business team has sold out of HP TouchPads and will not have more inventory.

Q: Can you comment on whether HP had to manufacture more to meet the recent demand?

HP will be manufacturing a limited quantity of TouchPads with webOS during our fourth fiscal quarter 2011, which ends October 31.

Q: Will HP continue to make more TouchPads with webOS to meet the demand?

HP is discontinuing the development of webOS devices and is winding down device operations within our fourth fiscal quarter 2011.

Q: Will the notification/alert emails go out all at once so everyone has a fair shot?

All those who requested notification have been notified today that more are coming in the future, and will be notified again when more specifics are known.

Q: How does HP plan to address disappointed customers?

All those who requested notification have received a one-time exclusive offer along with their email as our thanks for their patience and loyalty throughout this situation.

Q: What about retailers? Some retailers won’t price match or drop their price to $99.

Each retailer will manage their own policy and process regarding pricing and price matching. Please contact the local retailer of your choice to see what their current position is.

Q: Please limit stock to 1 per person: some people are getting 20 and then selling them on craigslist and eBay for a major profit.

If more inventory is available in the future, there will be an order limit.

Q: What if you already own a TouchPad but want to get $99 pricing?

Please contact the retailer or the specific HP store where you originally purchased for their policy on this question.

Q: What about other regions, such as hp.ca, etc.?

At this time, other regions have limited to no inventory available. Please check with your chosen retailer or your local hp.com web site for more information.

Q: Any news on discounted TouchPad accessories or Pre2 or Veer phones or accessories?

Limited inventory remains on TouchPad and smartphone accessories. Please visit HP Home & Home Office or your chosen retailer for current availability as this situation is changing rapidly.

HP probably had some minimum quantity contracts and so I assume that they will make as many as they can to cover orders received and to satisfy these contracts.  Keep in mind that tear-down sites have estimated HP costs at over $200 per unit, so they are losing money on every unit that they make and sell at these fire sale prices.  I would not expect many more to come available.  I’ll update you as I learn more.

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According to CNET, there is a new OTA coming to the HP TouchPad soon.

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Here is what CNET were told:

We expect that HP TouchPad owners can look forward to an over-the-air update that will enhance the platform and add functionality and a growing applications catalog,” an HP spokesperson told CNET today in response to an e-mail query. HP would not elaborate on what those enhancements would be.

HP also said that it is seeing “huge spikes in activations and between 3-5X downloads of apps” as a result of the fire sale launched on August 19.

The most interesting comment was this:

“HP is fully committed to the ongoing support and service of customers who purchased webOS devices…We plan to continue to investigate the best ways to leverage WebOS software and grow the applications,” the spokesperson said.

Ok, so HP are fully committed to an OS that only runs on two devices, both of which they discontinued within weeks of being launched and have no plans to launch any more? I’m sorry, but that sounds a little silly to me!

So let’s see what happens then!

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