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HP dumping WebOS devices will cripple its future

Opinion Cuts off its legs to save face
Fri Aug 19 2011, 14:10

FLOGGER OF EXPENSIVE PRINTER INK HP managed to do a number on WebOS fans everywhere when it unceremoniously discontinued sales of its WebOS hardware devices, and in the process severely dimished the chances of third parties picking up WebOS for their devices.

pre3HP's acquisition of Palm did many things but above all it gave the WebOS community hope. Here was HP, arguably the biggest name in the PC business, with resources that Palm could only dream of, an extensive retail channel and a proven ability to market hardware, whether it be desktops, laptops or printers, buying into WebOS. But the honeymoon period didn't last long.

Last November HP released the Pre 2 smartphone, its first device running WebOS since the Palm buy-out. WebOS was left to run on hardware that was at least six months old and for reasons known only to HP it decided to choose France as the first market for the handset. It is not surprising then that not a single major mobile operator picked up the smartphone when it did come to the UK. One popular online retailer is currently pricing the Pre 2 at £140 without a contract and still has trouble shifting it.

Then HP decided to follow the Pre 2 with a widely publicised paper 'launch' of the Palm Pre 3, Palm Veer and the Touchpad. To say the event was a launch would be deeply misleading, HP showed devices and gave out specifications but nothing else. No pricing, no launch date and no information about which mobile operators would be selling the devices. Once again it was a farce.

During February's Mobile World Congress we had a chance to play around with HP's Veer, Pre 3 and the Touchpad. WebOS was great, the Veer was surprisingly useful for such a small device and the Pre 3 was flying thanks to its second generation 1.4GHz Snapdragon chip.

But it seems that HP believed its products existed in a vacuum. What was great back in February is mundane in August.


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