What I Hope to See from HP on February 9

I was thinking over the weekend about my future gadget plans, and discovered that it’s actually a bit premature to start making any decisions (a “duh” moment if ever there was one). That internal discussion led me to start pondering what I want from technology in general over the next year or so, and how that plays into any plans I might make as to actual monies to be spent.

My conclusion: my needs are actually a lot less intensive than I would have thought, if I’m completely objective—that is, if I set aside my purely geeky desire for new things to play with and focus on the tools I need to be fully productive. I include in that description some level of fun, because as they say, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Starting this process of deliberations necessarily includes taking inventory of what I already own. And so, here’s what I have today in my own personal stable of devices (i.e., not what my company provides and not what my family also uses):

  1. Microsoft Zune 80GB with Zune Pass subscription
  2. Barnes & Noble Nook 3G (original version)
  3. Sprint Palm Pre
  4. Samsung Epic 4G
  5. HP Envy 14 notebook
  6. Dell Latitude XT Tablet PC
  7. Dell XPS 420 desktop

Of those, the Pre is the least used and the one most likely to be retired or passed along to someone else in my family. The remaining devices actually meet the vast majority of my mobility, computing, and entertainment requirements. I can read ebooks from pretty much every available source and sync my progress across devices, listen to a large and dynamic library of music, accomplish any computing task that I could possibly need to accomplish, and take handwritten notes and drawings in meetings. I can do much of this on the go with the Samsung Epic, and my files are kept in sync via solutions like Dropbox, Zumodrive, and Box.net. The Tablet PC functions well as a, well, tablet, in all but the most mobile of situations.

As I evaluate my technology, then, I’m left with the realization that I actually have all of the tools to do almost everything I can imagine doing. I lack some elegance and convenience because I’m not using a webOS smartphone as my primary device, and I can’t take notes while reading ebooks in the sun as I’d like to do because the Nook lacks even passable note-taking and annotation capabilities. And certainly, I’m limited in how certain information and content can be consumed, in particular the fact that I’m tied  to the Zune Pass because of its value and how it allows me to affordably discover new music—meaning that I don’t have a single mobile device that can serve as both my music player and my smartphone.

To bring this whole thing back to the real point, however, what is it exactly that I’d like to see from HP on February 9? More precisely, what do I need to see to induce me to spend even more money on technology in order to remain on the webOS platform over the long term? In summary, I think it’s this:

  1. An announcement of specific plans from certain developers and content providers that they will be officially supporting the webOS platform, and soon. This includes, at a minimum, Netflix, Hulu, Shazam, Rhapsody, Amazon (Kindle), and Barnes & Noble (Nook). Better yet would be shipping versions of clients for each of them.
  2. A smartphone running webOS 2.X with at least a 4” screen, some kind of physical keyboard, and modern specifications that enable it to perform without any hint of lag or slowdown. Oh, and it has to be available on Sprint, because I just can’t see myself switching carriers and losing what little clout I have being a customer of Sprint for over 12 years.
  3. A tablet with an innovative screen technology that is sunlight-readable. An example would be a tablet with an option for a Pixel QI screen.

Of these three, the first item is a deal-breaker. Without these apps, I’d have no compelling reason to switch back to a webOS smartphone or to a webOS tablet, and I would actually lose functionality in some cases. A simple example is how I’ve come to love the ability to read and annotate ebooks using the Nook client on the Epic and my PCs, and to sync everything between them. And unless the tablet can be read in direct sunlight, then it represents too much of a compromise as an ebook reader over my Nook.

Note that I’m being completely practical in this particular consideration. I can see myself throttling my pragmatic side, tying it up in a closet, and buying a webOS tablet just because I want to support the webOS platform and because using webOS on such a form factor would be just downright pleasant. But I wouldn’t be buying one because I need one, or because it would provide me with some amazing functionality that I don’t already have. The fact is, I don’t, and it wouldn’t.

On a more positive note, if February 9 brings a combination of #1 and either (or both) of the others, then I’ll be pulling out my wallet that same day. A tablet with a reflective screen and fully functional Nook client would be a dream for my more complex research projects, and a Rhapsody client on a smartphone would allow me to finally get rid of my Zune Pass. But these things need to be available now, or soon, with firm shipping dates. If I hear “in the coming months” from HP about anything but the most generic plans, I’ll sell all of my technology and move to the forest—or at least finally give up on webOS as a viable alternative.

As far as all of the exciting webOS cloud integrations that have been the topic of a number of recent rumors, I can imagine them convincing me to switch back to webOS at some point in the future. I can’t imagine that they’re all that far along today, however, and if I’ve learned anything from my experience with webOS so far, it’s that I won’t buy into a platform because of its promise. Never again will I buy a product because I hope that someday it will do something cool; if it can’t do it today, then I’m not buying.

How about you? What do you hope to see from HP on February 9?


  1. I have a hard time imagining that Amazon will be unsupported for very much long. w2it hRubenstein on the BOD, I’m thinking the only reason it hasn’t rolled out yet is BECAUSE of the Feb 9 announcement. Hulu…I jsut don’t see it. Not before Android. Netflix would not shock me.

    There will be a new phone – or 2 – announced, and by “will” I mean “has to be”. Sounds like there’ll be at least 2 tablets, but I think the big announcements will be software related. Cloud services, rollouts of 2.0 to current devices, new apps from significant contributors. It’ll be a day to look forward to. Here’s hoping.

  2. Tom Johnston says:

    palm should just give up, I am going to spend the extra money to get a new phone in the middle of my contract cuz the palm pixi is the worst and most frustrating phone i have owned.


  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by DeadTechnology, AboutwebOS. AboutwebOS said: What I hope to see from @HP_PC and @Palm on February 9: http://bit.ly/h35cLC #webOS #thinkbeyond [...]

  2. [...] I continue to evaluate my technology needs in the face of HP’s upcoming event on 2/9 (and to a lesser extent, Sprint’s event 2/7), I’m [...]

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