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1/12/2011
12:12 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
Commentary
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What's Up With WebOS?

The biggest news for Palm and WebOS in 2010 was the acquisition by HP. Many were hoping this would revitalize the platform, but WebOS continues to fly below the buzz radar tech sites. What's going on?

The biggest news for Palm and WebOS in 2010 was the acquisition by HP. Many were hoping this would revitalize the platform, but WebOS continues to fly below the buzz radar tech sites. What's going on?WebOS launched to much fanfare in 2009 and it was supposed to save Palm. Sales of devices were initially brisk, but that lasted just a few weeks. Sales settled to normal levels, then kept going down. By 2010 it was clear WebOS wasn't the savior Palm needed to survive.

We are approaching the one year anniversary of HP's announcement to by Palm and there are signs that the name "Palm" are on the way out. HP sent out invites for a WebOS event happening on February 9. If you'll notice the image of the invite, you won't see the name "Palm" anywhere, and why should you?

Palm is known for their venerable PalmOS PDAs dating back to the late 90's through their Treo smartphones just a few years ago. That isn't HP's focus. It never was. Last year, HP's former CEO said "we didn't buy Palm to be in the smartphone business."

The Palm Pre 2 running WebOS 2 launched a few months ago, but it barely made a ripple. The Pre 2 may already be on the way out, lasting just a few months. Compare that to the original Pre which lasted nearly 18 months on the market if you include the slightly tweaked PrePlus.

We'll have to wait until February 9 to see what the hubbub is about, but I'd wager anything relating to smartphones will be a sideshow compared to the tablet projects that will be announced.

The smartphone business for Palm, I mean HP, seems to be in a downward spiral. Few carriers still carry the line and key apps like ePocrates and Docs To Go are dropping support for an OS less than two years old.

Can HP turn things around, or do they even care? It will take a ton of money and resources to compete with the existing share of Android and iOS. Microsoft is spending half a billion dollars on marketing Windows Phone 7. HP would have to match a significant percentage to get noticed.

That money may be better spent on the tablet market. Despite the iPad's success, that market is just getting going. What do you think they will announce?

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