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HP's webOS Still Coming to PCs, Printers

By - Source: AllThingsD | B 14 comments

HP's webOS isn't completely dead, as HP will continue to sell the Veer and support the TouchPad tablet with updates. The company is also honoring its commitment to bring webOS to PCs and printers.

Believe it or not, webOS chief Stephen DeWitt told AllThingsD on Monday that webOS is going to be a popular platform on a variety of connected devices. The outlook seems somewhat unusual given that HP publicly nuked its plans to continue development of smartphones and tablets based on its just-acquired webOS software. And right now it seems that the platform itself has been put "on hold" although it's expected to appear on PCs and printers possibly next year.

The problem HP currently faces is that it's not sure where the future of webOS resides. There are a number of options on the tablet including licensing out the operating system to other manufacturers, partner with a single company to produce devices, shift its webOS focus from smartphones and tablets entirely and a few other ideas. And despite what's happened since HP acquired (and dismantled) Palm, there are external third parties still interested in the software.

“We’ve had a number of discussions and there’s a lot of interest around webOS,” said DeWit.

One aspect of the webOS future seems certain: it will arrive on HP desktops and printers. "We are continuing with our webOS-on-Windows work,” DeWitt said. The company will honor its previous commitments, but when that will take place he wouldn't say, only indicating that the company will reveal its plans when it's ready.

For those who purchased AT&T's webOS-powered Veer smartphone or picked up a $100 TouchPad tablet over the weekend, here's a bit of good news: HP plans to offer further updates for both devices. HP's Veer smartphone will continue to be sold, supported and updated. TouchPad owners who purchased the device before the fire sale will even be "taken care of," with more details surrounding that group of loyal customers coming soon.

Even more, consumers who were smacking their lips for a Pre3 upgrade may even still get a chance to do so. “Pre3 is being launched in very selective areas,” DeWitt said without providing specifics. “We’re not broadly launching Pre3.”

Ultimately HP knows it has a lot of work to do in the PR department now that the webOS cat is out of the proverbial bag. Offering up its discontinued tablet for $100 (rather than dump them all in a landfill next to Atari's E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial) was a step in the right direction, but there's still quite a bit of confusion as to where HP plans to go. As it stands now, it looks like HP was more focused on building its patent portfolio than producing actual consumer products. After all, the TouchPad was on the market for a month before HP threw in the towel? Seriously HP?

"I think the reaction to the news has been intense," he said. "We have a lot of work to do in terms of communicating more clearly what was shared with the public last week."

Honestly, something smells fishy. Like Nintendo, HP made a drastic move by dropping the pricetag of its first two tablets down to $99 (16 GB) and $149.99 (32 GB), and now it plans to offer something for those who purchased the tablets prior to the price hack. The company's original goal was to become the #2 tablet on the market, seemingly wanting to slide into second place after Apple's iPad 2. What better way to flood the tablet market than by offering a "fire sale" while still supporting the operating system? Now all those new customers – those who previously wouldn't have purchased the pricey tablets – will now be purchasing apps (which HP gets a percentage).

Sound familiar?

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  • 7 Hide
    house70 , August 22, 2011 11:04 PM
    It has crossed my mind this might have been a brilliant marketing ploy, if there was one (or a perfect flop, time will tell), after seeing the success of the fire sale. It will be a little hard for HP to turn on their head a few months from now (assuming the webOS catches on) and offer a better (hardware-wise) tablet, while forgetting about the customers that bought the first wave.
    On the other hand, these customers will not be able to complain too much, given the huge discount they received. Apple has fooled it's customers repeatedly with new and "improved" versions of their phone and tablet and the discount was symbolic in their case (of course, one has to take into account the fact that their customers are extremely loyal and would not agree for one second they got cheated by their gods).
    One final alternative for webOs would be to actually become just an OS, distributed to various hardware makers, like Android is. In this case, their best bet would be to expand support for cross-platform applications, i.e. to enable iOS and Android apps to run on their webOS environment. Imagine the freedom to choose not only the hardware, but also the best of all app worlds. If such an OS existed, I would jump in without looking back.
  • -2 Hide
    slabbo , August 22, 2011 11:49 PM
    they shouldn't have quit on touchpad so soon like i said. It was HP's portal to sell their new WebOS and rebranding themselves to become the new Apple. It would have been an excellent portal to their cloud services if they ever wanted to go that route.
  • -1 Hide
    compton , August 22, 2011 11:53 PM
    I thought for a minute that it might be some kinda marketing ploy -- whether purposly or accidentally -- but the problem is the HP app store. It's terrible. There's really nothing there. So in terms of month to month performance, August is going to be a lot better for TouchPad apps the July, but that's probably not saying a whole hell of a lot. Unless they have something good in the works already, I don't see that being much of an incentive. It's true that they surely take a hit selling them at $99/$150, but there's no way to really make that money back through apps, even if it's not much to make up. There's just not that much to purchase. Maybe it's all a huge gamble.
  • Display all 14 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    slabbo , August 22, 2011 11:56 PM
    but then again, if Google was willing to spend $12 billion on patents, I guess it wouldn't be surprising for HP to dump $1 billion to get actual webOS products/services into consumer hands.
  • 2 Hide
    shqtth , August 23, 2011 12:23 AM
    HP webOS Developer Update

    Dear webOS Developer,

    We have opened the next chapter for webOS, and we understand that you must have many questions. Yesterday we announced that we will focus on the future of webOS as a software platform but we will no longer be producing webOS devices. While this was a difficult decision, it's one that will strengthen our ability to focus on further innovating with webOS as we forge our path forward. Throughout this journey, our developers will continue to be a vital part of the future of webOS.

    We will continue to support, innovate and develop the webOS App Catalog. Our intent is to enhance our merchandising and presentation of your great products and to continue to build our webOS app ecosystem.

    As many of you are aware, we are currently scheduled to hold many developer events around the world. We are planning to continue with these events, however, due to the recent announcements; the nature of them will change. These updates will be posted on our events registration site this coming week. We are eager to present to you the updated strategy for webOS and to hear your feedback.

    Lastly, I wish to express our sincere appreciation for your ongoing support for webOS and the many teams responsible for it here at HP.
    This is a particularly dynamic time in the mobile industry and sometimes tough decisions need to be made about not only what to do, but also what not to do. This has been one of those times. Together with our great webOS developer community, we are confident that we will meet the challenges ahead and build momentum for optimal success.

    We will be communicating with you frequently over the next few weeks and we look forward to hearing from you throughout this process.

    Thanks for your support

    Richard Kerris
    VP webOS Developer Relations
  • -1 Hide
    shqtth , August 23, 2011 12:29 AM
    IF HP come out with a better version of the touchpad thats faster with more memory, I am sure that all those who have the touchpad now, will want to upgrade. But HP will need to wait for developers to come on board, as now there is a lot of touchpads in peoples home, and there is a reason to develop for them.

    But of coarse this is assuming the CEO of HP is not an idiot and he has a smart plan at the works.
  • -1 Hide
    legacy7955 , August 23, 2011 2:31 AM
    Considering the nonsense that he's done with the PSG operations I'd bet on the fact that he is...yup, and idiot.

    For those that don't know HP CEO Leo Apotheker was FIRED from his job at SAP.
  • -1 Hide
    captaincharisma , August 23, 2011 3:21 AM
    but the problem is the HP app store. It's terrible. There's really nothing there.

    and i do not expect it will improve now. how are they going to keep people to make apps for webOS when not many people will have a tablet with webOS on it to begin with?
  • -1 Hide
    randomizer , August 23, 2011 3:30 AM
    The TouchPad was liquidated only a week after launch in Australia. I'd hate to be on of the people who bought it in that tiny window before the fire sale :lol: 
  • -1 Hide
    11796pcs , August 23, 2011 3:53 AM
    HP has no clue what the Hell they're doing.
  • -1 Hide
    eddieroolz , August 23, 2011 5:29 AM
    I call into question the point of continuing webOS if no devices are going to be made other than printers and such.
  • -1 Hide
    SC1_70 , August 23, 2011 8:48 AM
    Because they don't want to foot the bill for app development. Seems they want to free-lance or outsource the development of them. A company that does something like this, and spills it like a rampant event to the public, has purpose behind it. Don't kid yourself. HP would not announce this to the public if there were not a long term growth plan. Releasing this info was either by an uncoordinated response due to a rift in Management OR It was on purpose. They have Shareholders to protect interests, and you don't go-off half-cocked with this sale and announcement unless they are making money down the road... Has anyone ever thought that by getting in bed with Qualcomm, that they shot themselves in the foot early on? Look at the history of Qualcomm. They are VERY tight on royalties, rights, and very very hard to deal with. Maybe this is the way out of bed with Qualcomm? Who knows ... But I assure you, having worked in the SC industry for 16 years, this was either calculated, or a rift in Management and now they are doing damage control. I pick the first one ...
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , August 23, 2011 2:06 PM
    Why would anyone buy a WebOS device now? What's to say they don't give up after a month into it? I wouldn't touch that with a 100' pole!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 29, 2011 3:21 PM
    I was one of the few lucky individuals to actually receive a touchpad. I was also one of the first people to jump on the pre bandwagon when it first came out on the Sprint network. The pre in my opinion was not ready for prime time due to the horrible quality control that was going on at palm at the time and I eventually traded it in for an android within the 30 day window. I always missed the ease of use of Webos and hoped that HP would do the platform justice. When the touchpad was announced I was turned off to the original price due to the fact there were tons of better spec'd android tablets out there. Since I received my touchpad I have optimized ,themed, and even purchased a few apps and coming from a rooted nook color running CM7 with MIUI I have to say that the touchpad provides the best experience I've ever had with a mobile OS period that's not neutered by the limited hardware provided by other manufacturers that will remain nameless. I think (hope) the leaders at HP are aware of the potential that this operating system has and that this "Firesale" was just a way to get the market share needed to entice developers to make apps for the OS which is the only thing it lacks right now aside from a few performance issues which could easily be fixed with software updates. I don't think I will install android unless there is some way I can dual-boot both OS'es as they provide 2 distinctly different experiences. Android is very versatile and be customised to do almost anything you want but even then Webos still blasts it out of the water when it comes to usability and multitasking ability I will always be a fan of Webos and I hope when HP becomes the software "powerhouse" it seems like they're trying to be I hope they remember webos IS software and should remain an integral part of their portfolio but if that's not an option please give it to a company that knows what to do with it.