Daniel Eran Dilger in San Francisco
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Can HP & Palm take on the iPhone?

Daniel Eran Dilger

Some people seemed offended that I’d present a less than enthusiastically optimistic take on the chances that HP’s acquisition of Palm could be anything other than a successful explosion of synergy that will challenge Apple. But what else do we know about HP & Palm? Let’s ask technology strategist Michael Gartenberg.
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Engadget republished Gartenberg’s take on the merger, originally written up on his Entelligence blog, so you know it’s palatable to the mainstream of tech readers. Sure enough, it’s the same kind of pollyannesque exuberance that’s been emanating from every corner of the globe (except from my corner, that is).

“HP is no stranger to mobility” Gartenberg writes. “The iPaq was once a defining mobile product — but over the years the company has been unable to replicate that success with similar efforts in as the dynamic shifted from PDAs to phones. Buying Palm is a quick way of getting back in the game.”

Is that really the case?

Entelligence: Meet H/Pre — Engadget

HP’s history in mobility

In his introductory paragraph, Gartenberg linked to a “happy birthday Pocket PC” article he wrote back in April, which presented Microsoft’s Pocket PC initiative as beginning in April 2000 (a year and a half before the iPod, for reference). However, Pocket PC was really just a rebranding of Microsoft’s already failing Windows CE plans from 1996, this time aimed directly at the then successful Palm Pilot.

So ironically, HP is buying its former competitor from a decade ago, the very one it set out to best with its partnership with Microsoft. Back then, today’s HP was HP and Compaq, and both companies invested in Microsoft’s ground floor opportunity to beat Palm at the PDA game. HP shipped a Journada line of Pocket PC devices, while Compaq introduced its iPAQ (named after the iMac, get it?). They were joined by licensees Casio and Symbol (the company that made the WinCE EasyPay devices Apple Retail began using back in 2005, and recently discontinued in favor of its own iPhone-based devices).

I managed to win a Compaq Windows Mobile device in 2000 at a promotional event. I also had a Palm V. While the Pocket PC thing had CF slots, a color screen, and most likely a faster CPU and more RAM, it was a terrible device that ate up batteries, was thick and boxy, and was maddening to use. I dropped it back in the box and returned to my Palm V, which was ultrathin, solid, lasted nearly forever on a charge, and was simple and elegant to use. I narrated my first motorcycle accident back in 2004 from the hospital bed using my Palm V’s Graffiti.

Reading Palm

Palm’s history in mobility

In many ways, the Palm V was for 2000 what the iPad is for 2010: a tremendously great product with perceived failings that were wildly overshadowed by its accessible utility and joy of use. Unfortunately, after delivering the Palm V, Palm lost its way and began ineffectually dabbling in impractical Mobitex wireless devices (Palm VII) on the high end and cheap consumer junk to fill out volume. The market for PDAs also imploded when the dotcom bubble bursting, leaving no real market for PDA-only devices to flourish.

While HP and Compaq kept churning out slightly faster hardware running Microsoft’s awful WinCE Pocket PC software to a tiny audience of people interested in buying single purpose handheld curiosity, Palm’s founder Jeff Hawkins independently created the next thing in mobiles (and a new market for Palm) at Handspring: a new smartphone based on the Palm OS, called the Treo.

By 2003, Palm finally realized that it desperately needed to transition from being a PDA vendor to being a smartphone vendor. It snatched up Handspring to obtain the Treo design. Much like Apple’s earlier acquisition of NeXT, the deal brought Palm’s original founder back, along with the executives Hawkins had originally left with after he lost faith in Palm’s leadership back in 1998 (including Donna Dubinsky and Ed Colligan).

The new Palm immediately set the Treo line on fire, launching the Palm OS as one of the first and highest regarded smartphone platforms available. Of course, the only other options were Symbian and Windows Mobile.

At the merger, Todd Bradley, Palm’s “Solutions Group” president and chief executive said, “This is a merger of leaders — the world’s leading maker of handheld computers and a global leader of Palm OS based smartphones.” Bradley took over as Palm’s chief executive, Hawkins became its new chairman and “chief product officer,” Colligan became the leader of its smartphone operations, and Dubinsky served on the board.

Post merger disaster

Palm subsequently tanked, making a series of poor decisions that split the company in half as hardware and software companies; let its Palm OS lead in smartphones rot while investing millions in a successor that went nowhere; churned out a confusing series of Palm devices that weren’t very interesting; and eventually left the company open to licensing Microsoft’s WinCE in 2006.

By that time, the “merger of leaders” had fallen apart. Hawkins and Dubinsky had left to start an unrelated software company, and Palm’s chief of failure Bradley escaped to HP to lead its Personal Systems Group leaving Colligan to take over as Palm’s CEO in 2005.

By then, even Sony had grown tired of trying to license the Palm OS, canceling its five year CLIÉ program. Colligan went on to lead Palm to deliver the failed Lifedrive, a sort of PDA with a hard drive intended to act like an iPod, followed by the aborted 2007 Foleo, intended to be a Linux-based sub-notebook that could connect to a Treo. He then famously derided Apple’s attempts to enter the smartphone market, then slinked away when the iPhone appeared and decimated Palm’s remaining Treo business.

Like Gil Amelio, Colligan’s best decision might have been bringing on Jon Rubinstein, who led the development of webOS and introduced the new Palm Pre before taking over Colligan’s role as chief executive. By 2009, Palm had reverted from a big dumb company out ideas back into a nimble fresh company more like Hawkin’s Handspring, and similarly in need of cash.

The Egregious Incompetence of Palm

Pre merger disaster

Having ventured through that history, it’s now time to take another look at Gartenberg’s additional comments on the viability of HP’s Palm acquisition. “In addition to Todd Bradley, the former CEO of Palm who now leads HP’s Personal Systems Group,” Gartenberg writes, “there are many Palm alumni at HP. This means that there should be a relatively smooth transition and overall good cultural fit. That’s important because time is of the essence — the market won’t wait around for HP to integrate Palm.”

But wait, Bradley has nothing to do with Rubinstein’s Palm, which created the webOS and Pre and turned it around from its previous, disastrous course that had resulted in the death of the original Palm OS and the ridiculous licensing of Windows Mobile. Those tragic decisions occurred under the leadership of Bradley himself.

It was Bradley who presided over Palm’s acquisition of Handspring, and who appeared in retrospect to have done everything wrong, converting the successful Handspring Treo from a great idea with potential into a short-lived Palm product that was suffocated by corporate inaction and safe-decision foolishness, all within a span of just three years.

And so now Gartenberg thinks that Bradley will somehow take the poorly selling Pre and cash-hemorrhaging remains of Rubinstein’s new Palm and integrate them into HP’s dead end Windows Mobile smartphone and PDA business, and somehow deliver a very different kind of result that bears no resemblance to the Handspring merger he previously botched?

What will HP do with Palm’s webOS? Most likely: fail

Mission impossible

“HP’s short term challenge,” Gartenberg writes, “is to survive the mobile market’s velocity. There is precious little time to integrate Palm into HP offerings, decide what to do with existing HP products like the Windows 7-based Slate, Airlife Android smartbook, and iPaq handhelds, and create an effective marketing message while increasing customer and developer evangelism.”

Challenge? How about ‘mission impossible’? At Palm, Bradley had one Palm OS and was simply adding Handspring’s smartphone to its PDA lineup. Now he’s tasked with taking HP’s mess of a mobile device strategy ranging from netbooks to slates to smartbooks to PDA and smartphones, running three completely different operating systems (WIndows 7, Android, Windows Mobile), and integrating a second line of smartphones running a fourth operating system.

Gartenberg asserts that Palm’s problem was that it lacked the resources to compete against richer competitors like Apple, Google and Microsoft, and that its partnership with HP will enable it to reach new channels backed by a rich company. That’s the common thinking, but doesn’t HP already have a lot invested in selling all the stuff its already selling?

Can HP simply cancel its Windows 7 and Windows Mobile product lines and feed all those customers webOS devices instead, including devices that don’t even yet exist such as tablets and netbooks? The “webOS works quite well on phones but it’s going to be interesting to see how it plays on new emerging categories of connected devices,” Gartenberg muses.

Will Palm + HP another Compaq, Be?

My usual critics complain that I never have anything good to say about Apple’s competition. Remember however, that while I was not so impressed by Palm’s new webOS and its ability to take over the market, I did note that it is in Apple’s interests to have as many competitors in the smartphone arena as possible.

Apple doesn’t have a monopoly that demands it crush all potential new competitors. Instead, it’s fighting against monoculture competitors ranging from Symbian to Android to Windows Mobile/WP7. The more manufacturers there are promoting their own platforms, the easier it is for Apple to deliver a premium offering to coax their customers away.

It’s in Apple’s interest to have the webOS remain viable. It prevents HP (or whoever else might have bought it) from becoming another ally to Android or WiMo. But the facts simply don’t support the idea that HP will do anything with the webOS other than incompetently crush it to death, just as HP crushed Compaq and Palm crushed Be and Handspring.

Palm Pre: The Emperor’s New Phone
Why Apple’s Tim Cook Did Not Threaten Palm Pre

31 comments

1 Alastair Sweeny { 05.08.10 at 2:29 pm }

Daniel:

You may be interested to know that before HP stepped in, there was some buzz about RIM buying Palm. But as I detail in my book, BlackBerry Planet,
http://blackberryplanetbook.com/
there was a lot of bad blood between Mike Lazaridis and the Palm people going back a long way.

2 worker201 { 05.08.10 at 3:07 pm }

I find it somewhat disheartening that so much of this article hinges on a device that you used for only a few days ten years ago.

[Well the thing is nobody else has been using it since then either, according to unit sales - Dan ]

3 The Lone Deranger { 05.08.10 at 3:21 pm }

Good overall historical analysis, however I wonder whether HP will repeat their prior mistakes. With the iPad now front and center it’s becoming clear to anyone with half a brain that the PC biz will change radically over the next 3 – 5 years. There are several keys to long-term success:
1) differentiation from commodity OS’s Win, Android, Chrome
2) OS a touch-based design from the ground up
3) idiot-proofing: masking the OS and file system completely

IF (and it is a BIG IF) HP can read the handwriting on the wall and are willing to bet the company on a proprietary OS / Hardware touch computer they could end up head and shoulders above their primary competitors Dell and Lenovo. If they don’t be the company it will be, as you say, just another Epic Fail.

4 stormj { 05.08.10 at 3:30 pm }

Iirc, The Palm Pilot and the Handspring never had Exchange support, something even Flash-killing Apple wasn’t willing to go without. It was even more important 10 years ago. This meant you had to have separate calendars contacts and email. I think MS though their interface was shite and they were simply leveraging their monopoly still had a more usable product at the time. A slick(er) interface (I hated al of them honestly), only gets you so far if it doesn’t do anything.

5 stormj { 05.08.10 at 3:31 pm }

@Alastair: is JB going to try and buy another hockey team?

6 gslusher { 05.08.10 at 3:34 pm }

“Palm’s brainchild Jeff Hawkins..”

That’s an odd use. It implies that Palm created Hawkins, rather than the other way around. Hawkins founded Palm.

7 benlewis { 05.08.10 at 3:35 pm }

Thank you for talking about the Palm V in this article! It was, IMO, the finest mobile device of it’s time, and I can clearly remember wondering what they were thinking with the boxy, cheap-feeling Palm VII. It makes me wonder where Palm would be if they had maintained the trajectory that they established from the original Palm Pilot to the V. Just further proof of how amazing Apple’s run has been since 1998.

8 tundraboy { 05.08.10 at 10:41 pm }

The wife still uses a 5 yr old Palm V. Wouldn’t trade it for an iPod Touch or iPhone. Nope, the thing does what she need it to do she says–why change?

9 Joey { 05.08.10 at 11:54 pm }

Dan, you spend too much effort trying to prove that HP and Palm can’t defeat Apple. No one but Apple groupies care about that. Change the focus and your lenses and look at the transaction objectively. I don’t care how many people praise you in the comments, you’re writing about stuff you just haven’t researched properly and your article shows that lack of understanding. Palm and HP screwed up many times, but your criticisms here are off-based and concerned with them “dethroning” Apple. They don’t need to do that. Only a minority of people care about stuff like that. There’s only one Apple. I care to find out about Palm’s HP deal and to be frank I don’t care about Apple and many people share my view.

The thing is that the more you scream and write about how bad the HP Palm deal is and how they will fail miserably, the more you sound panicked and as if you’re trying to comfort yourself that you’re not living a real nightmare. You sound like a kid who’s been told that Santa doesn’t really exist yet, you continue to believe he does. If HP Palm and whatever they try to do is so irrelevant and bound to fail, why even bother wasting ink and your time on that? Won’t they just go away and never bother you?

Silence is bliss.

10 olambo { 05.09.10 at 2:47 am }

@Joey
Where did Dan say anything about HP and Palm defeating Apple? You are the one that sounds like a kid who’s ranting about your hatred of Apple.
Good luck to HP and Palm, Dan mentions that they have little chance of success, would it help you sleep better if you were told everything is going to be OK.

11 beanie { 05.09.10 at 3:02 am }

Palm is a consumer smartphone so it fits since HP’s iPAQ smartphones are Windows Mobile business smartphones. Does HP quietly sell millions of business smartphones? Microsoft says 18 million WiMo licenses are sold a year. I assume the majority are to businesses.

Palm buyout seems like a steal. Palm has annual sales of around $800 million. Palm go bought out for 1.5 times revenue. Most tech companies go for 4 to 10 times revenue.

12 cy_starkman { 05.09.10 at 5:12 am }

I tell you what I’m really getting sick of..

This bullshit word “culture”, a “good cultural mix” and it’s other whatever phrasings.

Culture, or more usefully Ontology, as in world view is defined by a range of things but significantly by language as it describes what is seeable.

Palm and HP don’t speak different languages, probably most of the workers speak English, most also will be operating in like worlds and similar enough experieces of life (kids, mortage, going to the movies)

if it is that two companies have different policy systems, then why not use that terminology and yet seriously if you can fill out a form or attend a meeting then what’s so hard about filling out a different form or attending on tuesday.

Are companies of people so rigid they can’t accept it takes time for a new worker to learn “their way”. If they are then how does anyone get a job with them and keep it regardless the way they became an employee.

More so it would seem to be inferring that certain key people already know each other and have worked together before. Or that they haven’t. Or that incoming workers will be negative because they feel powerless in the decision or lost their boss who they liked.

Pfft.

13 adamk359 { 05.09.10 at 6:19 am }

I find it interesting that every time Dan posts up some article about how an Apple competitor’s strategy will fail, he has been pretty accurate. It’s also interesting to note that every time a Windows fanatic reads any of this, they instantly bash Dan for writing articles that are “panicked” as if to say that in his articles he hopes these companies will fail miserably in the hopes that Apple will continue to survive. However, the truth is, that these companies do usually fail at beating Apple and Apple doesn’t really need to “survive”.

They’ve proven time and again that they are successful. Even amidst all the whining that Apple’s products lack features that everyone (read: Windows enthusiasts) wants and have been around for years on other products (that not many care about). The point is, those competitors products took market share slowly over time (before the iPhone came out). Apple’s products, on the other hand, sell several hundreds of thousands of units in a week and millions by the end of the month. Before you know it they’re eating market share faster than anyone ever did. Everyone wants to either replicate that success or sue Apple to get a piece of the pie. How is it then, that Apple needs to survive? How is it then that anyone who writes negatively about Apple’s competition is “panicked”?

Every Windows fanatic these days acts like Apple has to fail. So when they see something bad happen to Apple (Nokia suing, possible anti-trust allegations) they cheer. To them, apparently, Apple is a thorn in their side that needs to be pulled out and tossed away. Apple is a virus! Apple is a cult! As everyone says, if you don’t like it, don’t buy it. Every Windows fanatic claims that Apple is bad cause you get locked into their hardware/software ecosystem. Why is that bad? It works for millions of people. Yes Apple does make some weird decisions (App store rejections for one) and does get some bad press for these decisions, but ultimately the few people that leave that ecosystem don’t affect Apple’s chances for survival. When Apple does something so catastrophically bad that everyone just ups and leaves…then come back and say that these articles are “panicked”. Otherwise it’s just the Windows fanatics who are panicking.

Why are they panicking? What do they really have to worry about? Lets think about this for a moment. Everyone who hates Apple fails to realize that it’s Apple these days who is setting the trends. There were ultra-light notebooks before the MacBook Air, but even they were still probably about as hefty as a first-gen Macbook (which isn’t touted as an ultra-light by any means). The Air was the one that really drove the Win OEMs to start making really thin ultra-lights that were actually light. Ultra-light notebooks at the time probably weighed about 5-6 pounds at their lightest. For a Windows notebook, thats ridiculously light. I have a 2002 HP Pavilion notebook and its huge and clunky. It has to weigh at least 7-8 pounds. Have you seen any HP laptops these days? Huge and clunky and probably weigh about the same…especially those behemoth 17″ desktop replacement notebooks.

Another thing to note, whenever I see Dell/HP/Asus et al release a new notebook, it looks like every other Win OEM notebook on the market. Recently, though, a lot of them have been taking pages out of the MacBook’s book in terms of design: The chicklet keyboard, the case that is shockingly white or even off-white instead of black with the black keyboard to name a couple design cues. Those are just a few examples of where Apple leads in terms of design. Are these important things? Ultimately, no. However, the Win OEMs see Apple selling MacBooks left and right and now they have to replicate that sales magic but they’re so narrow-minded that they think its just the hardware design that sells. The reality is, that not only is it the sleek hardware, but also the sleek software that sells Macs and iDevices. Thus that terrible ecosystem that can only fail…at failing.

When Apple releases a product, it may not be fastest, or the most feature-laden, but what features it does have are usually implemented so well and so differently than everyone else’s that usually those implementations are what get the competition moving to come out with their “me-too” products with similarly implemented features.
Then the Windows fanatics come out of the woodwork and call these products “iDevice killers”…which only fail miserably to really do much more than be snatched up by these people. These people are so desperate for Apple to fail that they grasp at any new product that might compete with Apple’s offering and throw their support behind it while bad-mouthing Apple’s product endlessly only to end up slinking back to their He-Man-Apple-Hater’s clubhouse and go back to quietly hating Apple when the competition’s product doesn’t gain much traction…until that next killer comes out next year or whenever.

These are the people who are panicking…and for what? Apple is good for them…whether they like it or not.

14 HCE { 05.09.10 at 9:27 am }

> My usual critics complain that I never have anything good to say
> about Apple’s competition. Remember however, that while I was
> not so impressed by Palm’s new webOS and its ability to take over
> the market, I did note that it is in Apple’s interests to have as many
> competitors in the smartphone arena as possible.

Er Daniel …. That isn’t exactly a compliment :-)

Here’s a real compliment. Palm’s “card” interface for multitasking is by far the best interface for task switching that anyone has come up with – certainly far better than the interface that Jobs demonstrated for iPhone OS 4.0. Unfortunately, without Apple’s resource saving optimizations, it is going to remain a resource hog and drain the battery in no time. The ideal in this case would be the cards interface plus Apple’s power-saving features.

In general, from an ease of use point of view, WebOS is the only mobile OS that is on a par with the iPhone OS. Rubenstein has been an excellent leader of an software team. Unfortunately he seems to have been a poor leader in other ways. Their hardware was uninspiring to say the least (though those decisions may have been made in Colligan’s time). The marketing was terrible and no one at Palm seemed to have enough clout with carriers – even in the US – to get them to feature their phones prominently.

Now, with so many strong contenders, I’m not sure that even with HP’s size and clout, they could make a comeback.

– HCE

15 duckie { 05.09.10 at 9:39 am }

I don’t think whether webOS is any good or
not really matters. Both HP and Palm used to make great hardware (Palm V and earlier, and thousands of people talk about their Laserjet 4 that kept running for decades) but have been turning out junk for years (Palm’s Tungsten T couldn’t even hold onto its data when the battery ran down, a shocking regressive move from earlier designs, Pre is shoddy, and HP’s reliability in printers and PCs has flown out the window since Fiorina – I have extensive work-related experience of all these products). Nice as it would be for a “cool” new mobile platform to emerge, I can’t see how two inept manufacturers will be better than one.

16 Berend Schotanus { 05.09.10 at 10:04 am }

“My usual critics complain that I never have anything good to say about Apple’s competition.”

Yes, I do. Even while I admire your analytics and agree with most of what you say, I think the negative tone doesn’t always make your article more readable or effective.
I think you are doing a good job uncovering the straight-out lies that the Apple competition produces. But people hoping for a bright future of a magical HP-Palm device, that’s not a lie, or an evil thing to do, everybody has a right to hope. Nobody knows the future. You have reason for a different prognosis, not really to get angry.

“Remember however, that [...] I did note that it is in Apple’s interests to have as many competitors in the smartphone arena as possible.”

I’m glad you did. :-)

17 Mike { 05.09.10 at 1:34 pm }

great article dan. and for once, mike elgan of computerworld is right… ;)

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9176435/Netbooks_Ha_iPads_will_replace_desktop_PCs

But really, you shouldn’t be trying to be as lenient as saying HP and Palm are taking on the iPhone, because people are saying they want to take on the iPad (as if that was an easier target). What’s ironic about this is that most likely some other manufacturer will come out with an Android version before they get a heavily modified WebOS tablet out the gate. So it’s true that it’s doubtful that they will be able to compete, let alone “kill” the iPad.

Of course, no one can credibly say iPad killer yet, because no such tablet has done anything remotely close in sales as the iPad ;) But don’t worry, in 2 years, they’ll be saying iPad killers left and right, just like they said iPhone killers, and iPod killers. Only problem is, they didn’t know that the real “killers” of iPods were Apple’s own products… ah the irony.

18 gctwnl { 05.09.10 at 1:52 pm }

Looking back, it seems indeed unrealistic to expect these people not to make the same mess as they did before. Still, HP’s money solves one problem Palm has (a lack of money). It could still work, but I guess it is more than likely Dan will be right again.

I was wondering: how is XBox doing? Is that in the end not an exception to the rule that Dan’s analysis is generally spot-on?

19 lrlee { 05.09.10 at 2:50 pm }

The most important part of this blog is: ” my first motorcycle accident “…
First? Most people quit at one, Dan. Great article.

20 Neil Anderson { 05.09.10 at 7:26 pm }

Dan’s no quitter.

21 gus2000 { 05.09.10 at 11:05 pm }

cul·ture   [kuhl-cher] noun, verb
– the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc.
– the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group
– the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another.

Any large collection of people, even a large business, will have a culture. It is the social order, the unspoken rules, the day-to-day attitudes of doing business. It absolutely exists and is a documented phenomenon. It is not “bullshit”.

In fact, is is a quite common problem when integrating a small and intimate group into a large and diverse group. Small groups are agile, while large corporate teams can move boulders…like a glacier. Most people from small groups get very frustrated over the need to deal with the bureaucracy needed to manage big groups.

22 gslusher { 05.10.10 at 2:13 am }

@cy_starkman

You know what really irks me? People who think that they are the ultimate authority on the meaning of words and concepts. They’re like self-appointed Popes.

Organizational culture and corporate culture are commonly-used terms that have particular meanings. (I’ll leave it as an exercise for you to look those up; it will register better if you do it yourself.)

Organizations’ and companies’ cultures are a lot more than “policies.” Indeed, “policies” may be the smallest part of their culture. They can have their own sub-language (jargon, acronyms, special terms), traditions, art, music, and rituals. Most colleges & universities have definite “cultures”–it’s what makes them different. (The college I got all my degrees from–MIT, has its own culture–hacks, tooling, the Infinite Corridor, but, more important, an attitude that pervades the community and unites the student body, faculty, and staff.)

Given your ignorance of organizational culture (and your arrogance), I would guess that you have never served in the military. * Each service has its own culture, as do some subsets of the services (e.g., the former Strategic Air Command; Special Forces; the submarine service; and many more). If you want to experience organizational culture up close and personal (i.e., in your face), join the US Marines.

* I have.

23 TheMacAdvocate { 05.10.10 at 5:56 am }

The most interesting part of this deal is what it says about HP’s relationship with Microsoft, who must see it as betrayal. By extension, it also speaks volumes for how much respect a player like HP has for Redmond. First, they can their Windows slate computer, which makes Ballmer prodding it at CES like some courtroom molestation doll just 4 months prior look even more ridiculous. Now, with the Palm purchase, HP is saying “no thanks” to their mobile OS, even with the full knowledge that its much-hyped successor is in the pipeline. They’ve said GFY to 2 of Window’s major platforms.

Back in the day, M$ would have conferred “dead to me” status on a transgressor and locked them out of the Windows ecosystem. These days, I don’t think they can afford to lose a licensee. I see this as the first of many moves by hardware makers looking to free themselves of the Albasoft.

24 ChuckO { 05.10.10 at 6:16 am }

@Berend Schotanus 16, Agreed. Lot’s of great history and thinking but the tone of some articles has an overly vicious feel that can seem a bit unhinged and that can work against the terrific work. And I say this as someone with no feeling for HP or Palm good or bad.

The ancient Celts had a name for the bezerker’s frenzy they went through in the lead up to battle called the “warp spasm”. It was said to be so intense that the soldiers appearance was altered and they appeared to be monsters. Dan’s articles are the literary equivalent. ;)

25 JohnWatkins { 05.10.10 at 10:01 am }

I’m guessing Cy has not been a part of a an organization that has been in a merger or has had to suffer through an imposed organizational shift. For those of us who have experienced it, corporate culture is a reality. Its nearly as hard for us to remember how little we were aware of it previously, as it is for those who have not experienced it to believe it exists. Policy is the least of it, and is easily anticipated as it is written and explicit. Corporate culture is often a surprise as it is generally unwritten and implicit.

26 Per { 05.10.10 at 10:16 am }

@Chuck

Bezerk, or rather berserk, comes from Old Norse and means “dressed as a bear.” They thought they gained the bear’s strenght by wearing its pelt. I think the Celts were mostly at the recieving end, as the Norsemen plundered the British Isles and northern France :-)

But I agree with what you’re saying about the article’s tone. The little stabs at the Apple’s competition and other bloggers make me enjoy the article a bit less.

27 warlock7 { 05.10.10 at 12:12 pm }

I must say that I am intrigued by the implied anger being read into Daniel’s articles. Perhaps the perspective he comes from is why some of you feel that way. Clearly, those “feelings” aren’t being interpreted by everybody. Viscous, unhinged, REALLY!?!? So, Berend and ChuckO, would you please show me where you’ve garnered your interpretations from. I just don’t see it. Perhaps it is yourself that is responsible for creating those feelings, as they don’t seem to come from the article as you seem to imply.

28 gslusher { 05.10.10 at 12:53 pm }

@warlock7

“Viscous …” Vicious, unless you mean that Daniel’s prose flows slowly.

29 ChuckO { 05.10.10 at 5:22 pm }

@Per 26, I didn’t know the literal translation was “dressed as a bear” that’s hilarious. I was using the more common (which isn’t to say common) form of “bezerker” as in one who goes berserk. I used the word merely to give additional context for the definition of “warp spasm”. Have you ever heard of the “Galloglass”? They were a mixture of Nordic/Celts from the western Islands of Scotland that worked as mercenaries.

@warlock7 27, A bit of poetic license on my part to be sure. I lack the tendency toward literal-ness in speech and thought so common to nerds and engineers.

I agree with Dan that this is most likely to end in tears. I would try it though if I were HP. All the other options seem worse as HP would be starting completely from scratch presumably with internal resources with no experience developing an OS.

A quote from Hippocrates: “Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience treacherous, judgment difficult”

30 airmanchairman { 05.11.10 at 10:47 am }

We are all familiar with the “race to the bottom” that has characterised the OEM PC vendors’ ever-slimming profit margins in the desktop market, saddled as they are with the never-diminishing “Windows tax” that insulates their sole software provider of note (Microsoft) from the pain they are feeling, and keeps its balance sheet healthy.

We also know that the mobile market is proving to be a different kettle of fish, where Apple’s bold foray has blown its cosy world wide open with disruptive technologies that have proved to be game changers.

HP’s acquisition of Palm is clearly an attempt by a big hardware player to change its fortunes by harnessing its hardware to a “big-player OS”, having noticed that today’s big gains are being made by those vendors with the software expertise to control and influence the user experience (Apple, Google, Microsoft etc). It is also a way to break free of the Windows tax once and for all, a gamble worth taking, at least for the price that Palm was acquired. They also appear to be “burning their bridges” with Microsoft, an act they cannot afford to take lightly.

The aim is clearly to bring the OS in-house to exert more control over both cost and quality, aided by some captains who have worked together in the past. This is no ordinary or easy undertaking as we well know, and aiming is no guarantee of accomplishing.

I suppose this is all that Dan is saying in a nutshell.

I for one welcome our new HPalm overlords and wish them well…

31 ChuckO { 05.11.10 at 1:26 pm }

I said this a few comments back but someone show me where I’m wrong. This is where someone (HP) copying Apple makes a lot of sense.

1. Keep producing Windows laptops/ desktops. Just like Apple keeps making computers although clearly the future is in mobile.

2. Go all in on WebOS on Mobile devices (tablets,Phones, etc.) even if what turns out to be WebOS is a complete re-write. No confusing mishmash of similar products where some have WebOS others Windows others Android. WIndows is only on laptops and desktops. Android/ChromeOS can punt.

3. Make sure the UI is so intuitive you can learn it as you go using the devices.

4. The toughest thing start a media\app store. My bowels start feeling weak thinking about this one.

5. Get the hardware a lot closer than Palm managed.

6. Get the devices out ASAP but not before you have something decent. I don’t think they can wait to get near Apple but they have to be close so they don’t end up having to give the stuff away like the Windows crap.

What else can they do? This is unlikely to work but again what else can they do?

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