What Can HP and Palm Do Today to Stem the Tide?

The (inevitable) dearth of news from HP and Palm, coupled with an onslaught of news and actual product releases from Android, RIM, and Apple, has put significant pressure on the webOS community of late. Increasingly, folks are talking about “defecting” to competitive platforms such as the Evo and Epic on Sprint, the Droid X and Droid 2 on Verizon, and… well… something else on AT&T. The core group of original Sprint Pre customers are becoming particularly vocal about their desire for newer hardware that resolves some outstanding issues with that platform, such as the “Too Many Cards” error that was essentially solved with more RAM in the Pre Plus.

As I’ve written before on this blog, however, there’s probably not a great deal that HP and Palm can say about new smartphone hardware at this point. And, HP is in a “quiet period” until August 19 given the recent close of their third quarter, and by some accounts is very loath to pre-announce products in any case (the HP Slate videos earlier in the year were perhaps anomalies). And so, it’s unlikely that we’ll get the kind of hardware information that will stem the (potential and on-going) tide of defections. Update: HP’s “quiet period” is now over (this is written on 8/22/2010), and so could at any time provide more details about the webOS product roadmap.

However, there might be some things that HP and Palm can do, today or very, very soon, to give the webOS community more than just hope that great things are coming. Here’s a list of a few—feel free to add your own in the comments:

  1. webOS 2.0: Announce what the engineers are working on in the next and most significant version of webOS. Much of this information is already out there, having been discussed at the Palm developers meeting from a few months ago, and so even just the publicly available information could be gathered up and repackaged. And HP and Palm have already confirmed that webOS 2.0 will be released in 2010, and so be aggressive, guys—tell us what we can expect and why webOS 2.0 is worth waiting for. That’s particularly true if we can’t expect to see the update anytime before the holidays. Update: Done! Palm released a preview of webOS 2.0 today (8/31/2010) via the release of the beta PDK. Some very exciting things in there, and this has definitely energized the webOS community.
  2. Apps: The SDK and PDK Hot Apps contests have been great, and we appreciated the 50% off promotion. However, go even further.  Follow Microsoft’s lead, if you have to, and announce an in-house studio where first- and third-party apps will be cultivated. Pay key developers (e.g., an MS Office doc editing suite is ludicrously lacking) to develop apps for webOS. Make the program official, and announce it far and wide. Hell, advertise it if you have to, but make sure that the webOS community knows that you’re doing everything you can to drive app development for the platform.
  3. Partnerships: Leverage existing partnerships, and create new ones, around driving the most important content to webOS devices. HP already enjoys some strong partnerships in their PC business, so use them to bridge the gap between webOS and just about every other platform out there. Some examples:
    • Barnes and Noble: Go here, and you can purchase ebooks from an HP-branded site. You can download the B&N reader software to HP desktops and notebooks via a dedicated link. So, HP, announce that you are working closely with B&N to produce an industry-leading mobile reader client for webOS. Pay B&N to develop the app, or have some of your 40,000 engineers write one. And, again, announce it now—notice the theme here? It wouldn’t hurt to offer a promotion, as well—maybe a free or reduced-price ebook upon the registration of a new B&N account from the webOS client.
    • Rhapsody: HP loads links to the Rhapsody music service on every PC they sell. Go to Rhapsody and—you guessed it—offer to pay for the development of a Rhapsody client, or write one yourselves. And, go one further: work with Rhapsody to subsidize—even for a short period of time—the same sort of subscription service that Microsoft offers its Zune customers. That would mean a $14.99/month all-you-can-eat subscription service that includes 10 free MP3 downloads a month. HP is into digital media in a big way, even making industry-leading audio hardware and software available on their Envy line of notebooks. Now, make webOS a competitive platform for music, and of course—announce this partnership now.
    • Audible: To my knowledge, HP doesn’t have a partnership with Audible, but it should. Get an Audible client written for webOS and then work out a special promotion. Audible offers free audiobook promotions to every Tom, Dick, and Jerry, it seems, and so it shouldn’t be too difficult to put together a program for the webOS community. And make sure we know right now that you’re working on that partnership, and then make sure you deliver on it.
    • Update: Amazon: I was just informed on Twitter that Amazon owns Audible (didn’t know that, somehow), and of course Amazon is currently the best (actually, the only) way for webOS users to buy audio on the devices. So, HP, just extend that relationship to include Audible content, and throw video rentals and a Kindle client into the mix as well.
    • XM/Sirius: Just like with Audible, there’s no partnership with HP that I’m aware of. But, that shouldn’t stop anyone. Take what you do for Audible, and do it for XM/Sirius. And announce it, maybe on the service itself—I’d love to be able to listen to my satellite radio subscription on my webOS device just as I do in my Infiniti.

Come on, HP and Palm. Your company is chock full of smart people, and we’re not exactly stupid out here in the webOS community. I’m sure that you can come up with some great ideas on how to show the community that you’re working hard to make the platform successful, and don’t hesitate to ask us for ideas. It’s true that webOS is a great mobile OS, and that hardware isn’t the only important game in town. We understand that. But show us that you’re as committed to the future of the platform as we’ve been over the last number of difficult months. And be specific, because the nebulous, pie in the sky announcements aren’t going to cut it.

We really don’t want to leave the platform. But for many people in the community, you’re not giving much choice. If you’ve concluded that short-term losses are acceptable in the very long-term battle for mobile supremacy, then fine. You’re doing a good job of it. But if not, then give us something that shows us you really do care about us early adopters.


  1. TeckieGirl says:

    They need to hurry the hell up. I am a palm devotee and I love theit stuff, but when I am on the bus and I see iphones, evos and samsungs in my face..i feel not as good even thought my OS is awesome. I am begging you Palm and HP say something!!!

  2. I think they should at least announce a date or an event where more will be revealed. Have demos of new features and perhaps a demo of unfinshed PalmPad.

  3. mondragon says:

    I feel the same way as TeckieGirl

  4. Just a guy says:

    There are a lot of things HP *could* do but there is a huge gap between that and what they *will* do.

    I love Palm and WebOS but I’ll be blunt here. HP moves slowly, in the scheme of things, the cries of the Palm community are a tiny spec on the radar.

    The few employees that actually read these articles and care, aren’t in a position where they can divulge details. The people in the position to authorize giving out the details couldn’t give a damn about doing so.

    I’m getting tired of hearing people threaten to jump ship because HP isn’t telling them what color juice boxes they’re planning on making. It’s a damn phone, use it or don’t use it.

  5. You know, I would be happy to stay with Palm/HP if they would just release a statement semi-detailing what they were working on, and release some pics of new devices forthcoming. (at this time I would accept drawings on the back of napkins)
    Every company has leaks (even the mighty Apple). This leads me to believe that none of these devices or software updates really exist. Palm/HP has severely neglected this brand.

    • Kyle – The small number of leaks so far (and, there are some) doesn’t mean much. Consider that we saw and heard absolutely _nothing_ about webOS or the Pre prior to CES 2009. There was only the vaguest speculation around the next version of “Palm OS,” which of course never materialized. So, Palm has shown that they’re capable of keeping secrets.

  6. If HP/Palm did what whiners are asking for they’d be out of business.

    When Apple had the police break down some blogger’s door, because of potential secrets becoming public too soon, you may want to rethink how they became so successful.

    It wasn’t by showing all their competitors what they were up to.

    To those who “can’t” wait. Don’t.
    Better yet:
    Find a lover, then trying to rush to buy new gadgets won’t seem as important.

    • Mannyman – Note that in my post, I’m arguing specifically that information on hardware isn’t going to be forthcoming until it makes sense. However, as we saw with the webOS 2.0 preview today, there are other things that HP and Palm can do to create some momentum heading into new product launches. After all, the core webOS community has been extremely supportive of Palm, and now HP, throughout the rather rough times of the last year. There’s nothing wrong with the companies showing some of the things we have to look forward to, without their needing to give away the farm while doing so.

  7. Great post. I second the need for an Audible client. Using Audible through Classic is cumbersome.

    I would also add the need for:

    1. First-rate email client, since that’s a big part of a business user’s day.

    2. Office client comparable to the one on Windows Phone 7, including OneNote (sorry, but EverNote doesn’t cut it) and SharePoint Workspace.

    3. Better battery life. I need a phone that will go all day of moderate to heavy use. all day means 16-20 hours, not 8 hours.


  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AboutwebOS, AboutwebOS. AboutwebOS said: What can @HP_PC and @Palm do TODAY to stem the tide? Give your thoughts in the comments: http://bit.ly/9UZhiz #webOS [...]

  2. [...] Precentral.net is reporting that Palm has released some details on webOS 2.0. Looks like they liked at least one of the ideas I posted about here. [...]

  3. [...] last thought: I’d hoped that HP might leverage some of its relationships to get things like B&N Nook and Audible.com clients out the door, but so far that hasn’t [...]

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