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The day the music died

Posted Aug 19 2011 5:58pm

I started singin’,
“bye-bye, miss american pie.”
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
And singin’, “this’ll be the day that I die.
“this’ll be the day that I die.”

What a day yesterday was. In a shocking turn of events, HP announced that they were pulling the plug on webOS hardware. That means no future phones and tablets running webOS from HP and the last webOS phone from HP is the Pre3 which just underwent a “soft launch” (the cynical would say “dumped”) in Europe, and the barely month old Touchpad.
Excuse me while I now rant.
As a webOS user and developer I am extremely upset with HP. When HP bought Palm, I was happy with the acquisition as I was led to believe that HP had the “scale” to bring webOS to the potential it deserves. I was led to believe there could be further software and hardware innovation for the webOS platform. I was led to believe there were grand plans to incorporate webOS into devices and platforms beyond phones and tablets. There were even global launches in place, the more recent being the Touchpad in the AsiaPacific. I was led to believe HP was in it for the long haul, that it was “a marathon not a sprint”. Then suddenly, the top dogs in HP decide to throw in the towel after “crunching the numbers”. Make an about turn and say they are out of the hardware business? I am mortified at the way the CEO and the top brass of a huge corporation could do this so abruptly (unless it was planned all along in which case you were deceiving us for quite some time) and do it in such a ruthless manner.
1) Apparently even the top executives in the mobile division and the developer relations people were kept in the dark until the last moment. Is this how a responsible corporation treats its employees? You don’t expect loyalty from your employees if you treat them this way and I feel very sad for them. I expect other firms head-hunting the talent from HP/Palm right now and I won’t blame any of them taking up offers before the pink slips come.
2) webOS users and developers are now left high and dry. Without any word of a new hardware outsource deal or concrete webOS licensing plans, it essentially has put a brake on webOS development. Heck, at least when IBM decided to divulge itself of the the laptop business, there was at least a clean handover to Lenovo. Couldn’t HP have waited till at least some outsourcing hardware deal or licensing deal had been struck?
3) Having basically screwed your own employees, screwed loyal webOS users and developers, you have just screwed your shareholders as well.
I have to agree with Derek Kessler of, and pardon the language, but at this point it appears to me too that HP has neither balls nor brains .

Derek also wants to know the views of webOS developers for an upcoming round table discussion so here’s my answer Well, I wear two hats – that of a mobile user as well as that of a developer, and from the perspective of a medical person.
Firstly, as a developer I have to say thank you to the folks behind webOS who have given me the opportunity to create my own applications which run on a mobile device, using my basic knowledge of html, javascript and CSS. Ares is just an amazing development tool without comparison to this date which makes development so easy and fun. I can’t imagine developing for another platform like iOS and Android and this would be the sad part I will miss if there were no future webOS hardware. I shall miss a platform which is so open not requiring either rooting or jailbreaking the device. It was so cool putting the device into developer mode just by typing the Konami Code. It was really fun interacting with homebrew developer community in the early days especially. There is also the awesome team at Webos-Internals (you can show your love for them here ) and amazing developers like Jason Robitaille (you can show your love for him here ). I have learnt so much from them and never have I experienced such an amazing community like the folks at PreCentral and webOSroundup . I don’t want the music to stop. I want to keep on developing medical apps for webOS but in practice I can only do so as long as I have the hardware to run the apps on. I have two Palm Pres which are now dead. I still have a functioning Palm Pre2 and I have ordered a Touchpad which is now on its way (having recently had a hands-on with a Touchpad running webOS 3.02 I can say it is a very decent tablet and it’s a keeper for me for many reasons). How long app development will continue depends on the future of webOS hardware. I intend to continue supporting my current stable of medical webOS software (that’s the only right thing to do). I shall try to make some of them more Touchpad compatible (right now only MediPDA is Touchpad compatible) once I get the device to properly test the apps on. I look forward to transitioning from the Mojo framework and learning Enyo, and hope that the Ares team will not stop with their efforts at coming up with an updated Ares which supports Enyo.
As a mobile user, I am a little platform agnostic at the moment. I have actually three mobile phones in use – a Pre2, an iPhone4 and a HTC Desire – covering iOS, Android and webOS. As a blogger having all three platforms helps me cover the news in the medical mobile world from the user perspective. As a user though, I do have my bias. Readers of my blog would know I have been a long term Palm and webOS advocate and till today I can say my OS preference is webOS – having the best multi-tasking “card” system, excellent notifications, wonderful contact and calendar synergy (with Google, Exchange, Facebook, LinkedIn etc) and very useful functions like “Just Type”. The best mobile hardware prize has to go to Apple. The iPhone4 is such a solidly built device and design is something one has to admire Apple for. In the application department, iOS wins at the moment, having the most number of apps. For medical users that means iOS is the favored platform of the day, as there are more medical apps on iOS than any other mobile platform at the moment. It’s not entirely true that there’s always “an app for that” in the Apple Appstore. Just the other day I was looking for an app to work out the CML Sokal and Hasford prognostic scores on the iPhone. I only found an app (from BMS) which runs on the iPad but not for the iPhone. Heck I have Sokal score up and running on my OncoPDA for webOS app so I shall miss the ability to kludge together my own utility should I see a gap in the iOS store. As for Android, I have not had a very happy experience with the HTC Desire but that’s a hardware issue and not a platform one. The device died on me after about three months of use (luckily it was covered under warranty and repaired in about a week) amd I have been not happy with the paltry storage space for apps on the HTC desire. I can see how tweakable and flexible the Android platform is and it does have a decent number of medical apps – enough to rival iOS at the moment. Perhaps in the future I shall get a more powerful Android phone should my Pre2 die on me and if there is no new webOS hardware in sight.
I have long since moved my essential data – contacts, calendar, tasks and notes – to the cloud. I use a combination of Google services, Evernote and Remember the milk for these. That way it really doesn’t matter what device I use as I always have access to the data, be it a webOS phone, iPhone or Android phone. If you haven’t done so, you should. The lesson of the HP/webOS debacle should be in my opinion, trust no one. Corporations are only looking out for their bottom line. Period.

from the Palmdoc Chronicles

The day the music died

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