In April 2010 HP acquired Palm for $2.1 billion. Since then HP announced three products powered by Palm’s secret sauce known as webOS: the next-gen Pre3, the tiny Veer, and the TouchPad tablet. Due to a number of factors (including but not limited to manufacturing delays, almost no buzz, and as a result of that poor sales figures), HP has decided to discontinue all webOS devices. A press release outed Thursday states:
HP reported that it plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones. HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward.
So what does this mean for ex-WebOS engineer Job Rubinstein’s creation? Well, HP refuses to say that the innovative OS is dead. The majority of industry insiders believe that HP might go on to license the OS to other hardware manufacturers. So in a nutshell, HP will continue shaping the OS for the future but the devices it will run on will be made by other manufacturers. (It’s like what Google and Microsoft do with their cell phone businesses; Android and Windows Phone 7 are developed internally and they are pushed out to consumers on devices made by other manufactures like HTC and Samsung.) For now, however, the manufacture of the Pre line, the Veer, and the TouchPad will be ceased and when the current supply of inventory is gone, that’s the end of it. If you’re in the market for a decent tablet, though, now’s the time to splurge: HP is having a major TouchPad fire sale to get rid of all the remaining inventory. The 16GB ($399) and 32GB ($499) models are seeing a significant price drop today; they are now going for $99 and $149 respectively. Check out Slick Deals to see the retail outlets that have the price reduction in effect.
In the same press release HP also announced that “its board of directors has authorized the exploration of strategic alternatives for its Personal Systems Group (PSG).” In other words, the company is pondering a way to spinoff their consumer-oriented hardware wing so that they can focus all their attention on building software. You see, the company’s PSG includes HP desktops, laptops, printers, webOS devices, etc. HP is in talks with Autonomy Corporation plc about handing over their hardware unit, but according to HP CEO Leo Apotheker it’ll be another 12 to 18 months before any major decisions are made regarding the new focus for the company.
It’s clear that this is a time of transition for HP. They spent billions on a fading hardware company and that went bust. Now they are taking a step back from the consumer industry and considering a big move towards software and services. When all the dust settles, though, there’s one thing that remains to be said and makes a lump form in my throat: with Rubinstein working on other projects and webOS on death row, this time Palm really is dead.
In early October HP spilled the beans on the Palm Pre successor, and this week they’ve made it so you can purchase it. Feel free to order the webOS 2.0-powered Pre 2 at HP’s online store for $449.99. Why so expensive? Because HP’s selling it GSM unlocked; in other words, it’s not tied to a single carrier.
There’s no denying that HP has been a smartphone player for years. The first iPAQ running an ancient version of Windows Mobile was first introduced in 2000. But today marks a new era in the smartphone industry for HP. In April HP aquired smartphone and OS manufacturer Palm for a cool $1.2 billion with the intention of clearing off the dust and starting fresh. Before the aquisition, Palm had already invented the modern webOS interface and hardware to go along with it in the Pre and Pixi. Under HP’s guidance and supervision, Palm is ready to show off a new version of webOS and a new Pre device.
HP webOS 2.0 boasts a load of new features. The big ones include: (1) “True multitasking” & Stacks – You can move back and forth between apps and they’ll remain the exact state you left them in; Stacks keeps related items (or cards) together making it easier to manage open applications. (2) Just Type & Quick Actions – Just Type is Palm’s name for universal search; starting typing and the device will automatically search your phone’s database and the Internet for related content. This is open for developers to experiment with; they can integrate with the search function and add their own user-customizable shortcuts called Quick Actions. (3) HP Synergy – After signing into your Facebook, Google, Microsoft Exchange, LinkedIn and/or Yahoo accounts, the information from these services will automatically populate your phone, allowing you to connect seamlessly to multiple web services. You have the control to choose what gets pulled from the cloud and stored on your phone–contacts, calendars, messaging, etc. This feature will also be open to developers, allowing them to cull data on your phone if you allow it. (4) Exhibition – When you plug your phone into a Palm Touchstone Charging Dock the Exhibition app will launch automatically, and it will display what you want it to while it’s charging (a Facebook photo slideshow, the day’s agenda, etc.). Developers will be granted an API to display aspects of their existing app experience or create specialized apps for use when the phone is charging. (5) Adobe Flash Player 10.1 beta – The web browser will support Flash content. Other notable features include: unified messaging, text assist (spell check, auto correct), HTML5 support in browser, a customizable launcher, integrated Quickoffice suite, and support for Exchange,VPN, Bluetooth keyboards, and SPP peripherals. The Palm App Catelog will be accessable too, with Facebook 2.0 and Skype Mobile featured at launch.
There’s the software. Let’s talk hardware. The Palm Pre 2 looks nearly identical to its older sibling. It boasts a 3.1-inch (480 x 320, HVGA) multitouch display, 1GHz processor, 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, 16GB of internal storage, built-in GPS, ambient light & proximity sensors, an accelerometer, 802.11b/g WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, a 3.5mm headphone, and battery that promises five-and-a-half hours of talk time. The “sleeker, streamlined design” features the same slideout QWERTY keyboard and touch panel along the bottom. All in all, it’s a slimmer, faster Pre running a mildly tweaked version of webOS.
The software definitely looks compelling; what I’m most worried about is the hardware. The specs are simply on par with what’s on the market today, and the design looks very aged. Palm had much time to develop new hardware to release with webOS 2.0 and what they came up with is nothing to call home about. It’s 2009 hardware packed with 2010 software–not the most ideal of situations for a company excited to breakout into the heated smartphone competition. Pre 2 feels like Pre 1.5 (or arguably what the Pre Plus should have been when it released last January).
Palm Pre 2 running webOS 2.0 will be available this Friday in France from the SFR mobile carrier. It will arrive in the States and Canada “in the coming months” on Verizon Wireless (US). Pricing details have yet to be disclosed. Existing webOS users will receive an update to the latest version also “in the coming months.” And if you’re a developer, you can purchase unlocked UMTS versions of Pre 2 in the US to start building apps.
Look below for still images of the Pre 2 and webOS, and hop after the break for an under ten minute video tour of the new platform and official PR.
On Wednesday HP announced its plans to buy out Palm for $1.2 billion, or at a price of $5.70 per share of Palm common stock. This is big news, and it’s quite shocking. Palm’s existance takes the shape of a rollercoaster ride. Since its inception in 1996, Palm introduced the world to some of the first personal device assistants (PDAs) with the Palm Pilot, the Handspring Treo, Treo and Centro smartphones, and the failed experiment that was Folio. After nearly facing its demise, Jon Rubinstein (who helped invent the iPod) left Apple to help ressurect Palm. And so he replaced Ed Colligan as CEO, created a new mobile operating system called WebOS, and pushed out two new smartphones, the Palm Pre and Palm Pixi. Thanks to a downright scary marketing campaign (watch this commercial if you dare) and tough business decisions (making the Pre exclusive to Sprint), Palm’s stock took another nosedive and rumors of a buyout quickly surfaced. Tech companies like HTC and Lenovo sat at the top of analyst’s lists as possible companies to gobble up Palm. And then, all of a sudden, HP literally came out of no where to seal the deal. And look at that, we’ve made it to present day.
HP will officially acquire Palm during HP’s third fiscal quarter, or by July 31. So what does this mean for the two entities? Right now this is what Palm’s got: the Pre, the Pixi, and most important to HP, WebOS. HP’s executive VP Todd Bradley says, “Palm’s innovative operating system provides an ideal platform to expand HP’s mobility strategy and create a unique HP experience spanning multiple mobile connected devices.” Essentially, HP is going to take everything WebOS and run with it across a wide range of devices. Which means you can plan to see it running on smartphones and potentially netbooks and tablets. All this begs the question, what will become of the HP Slate now that WebOS is on the table? Only time will tell.
It’s been confirmed that Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein will stay onboard with the majority of senior team members at the company. Also, the current Palm hardware roadmap has not been affected by the merger. All signs point a happy marrige. Says Rubinstein: “We look forward to working with HP to continue to deliver industry-leading mobile experiences to our customers and business partners.” He added, “I don’t think HP would do this unless they were willing to make the kind of investment necessary to win.” What’s interesting here, though, is that HP signed up to be an initial key partner with Microsoft for Windows Phone 7. Also, HP already has their less-than-successful line of iPaq smartphones. Will Palm become iPaq or stay Palm? All of these questions will likely be answered sometime between now and July. All in all, the acquisition is a big win for consumers (and Palm, really) as it will breath new life into the emerging WebOS platform and introduce new hardware on a whole new scale of innovation.
Look after the break for the official PR and a letter written by Rubenstein to his company.
Goodbye creepy really strange non-sensical really pale you scare me zombie girl. Hello normalcy. Palm has decided to take a more traditional route to advertising with its new Palm Pixi WebOS-enabled smartphone. And I like it. Because it doesn’t disturb me like the Palm Pre ad campaign did many a-time.
The Palm Pixi will be made available on Sprint for $99 on November 15.
Touting multi-tasking support and more, Sprint creates an ad for the Palm Pre that pits Apple in the corner. Apple, your move.
On June 6th, Palm will be releasing its brand new smartphone device called the Palm Pre. It will be available for Sprint for $199.99 after you sign up for a 2-year contract. I got a sneak-peak hands-on with the Pre this afternoon. To sum it up, the Palm Pre is simply the first cell phone that will truly rival the Apple iPhone. Both the exterior and the UI are extremely sleek and modern. Although the physical keyboard is rather small, the keys are bouncy and raised to make typing with them not too much of a hastle. I was able to run a number of apps including Calendar, Email, SMS, Photos, Camera, Music, the browser, SprintTV, AmazonMP3, Google Maps, and YouTube. The App Store was open, but I was unable to download apps from it. Synergy, Palm’s signature way of bringing together everyone’s contact information into one entity, is quite impressive. When you search a contact name, you get more than a picture of them, their phone number, email and address information. Tagged with their name is also their AIM, Facebook, and other social networking services, if they have them, of course. Think of it as a a bundle of ways to contact a person, all found in one place. The “cards” are very fluid in motion. You can easily flick an open app to the side for later use, or up and out of the way to exit it. All in all, I am very excited for the launch of the Palm Pre on Sprint. According to some rumors, the Pre will soon be available on other networks, such as Verizon, in the coming months. Here’s hoping Palm will make a move Apple did not take advantage of–opening their device to a number of networks, to get a Pre in as many hands as possible.
Check after the break for the gallery of pictures. They include the front and back of the device, as well as the official packaging of the phone. (Click here for more…)