Abandoned by HP. Reflections of a Palm WebOS User.

19 Aug

                Abandoned.  Dejected.  Angry.  Aghhhhh. 

                As a long-time Palm products user, that about sums up my reaction to HP’s sudden decision to trash the products and software that for me always worked and met my personal and business needs.  HP’s decision to immediately stop marketing WebOS devices including the TouchPad and Pre smart phones is a blow to every one of us that use WebOS and thought it was a smart and user-friendly mobile platform.  A tool, not a toy. 

                I should have seen this coming.

                When HP bought Palm last year, mainly for its WebOS software, I cheered.   The Goliath HP, I thought, would be Palm’s (David’s) savior by offering superior marketing, merchandising and distribution.   The initial signs were promising.  When HP introduced the TouchPad tablet and the Pre 3 smart phone in January I cheered again.  Then, the wait.  It took six months for the TouchPad to appear on store shelves.  I’m still waiting to buy my Pre 3.  During this time it became painfully obvious that Goliath was a dinosaur.   The new Goliath is Apple.  HP, the once vaunted innovator had become nothing more than a lost commodities merchandiser.

                Where did HP go wrong?  Here’s the analysis of Horace Dediu writing in August 19th edition of Harvard Business Review Today: 

                “Consider how HP and Apple faced the changes of the PC market almost exactly ten years ago.

  • On September 3, 2001, HP announced that they would acquire Compac.
  • On October 23, 2001, Apple announced the iPod.

              The rest, they say, is history.”

              HP embraced the present.  Apple created the future—mobile.  By Acquiring Palm last summer, HP embraced the present one more time.  Apple was already working on the iPad2. 

             The lesson of Apple for all of us whether we’re in computers, customer service, perhaps even journalism is that the path to long-term success and profits is to create new categories and dominate them. 

             I will miss my Palm WebOS.  It really worked—for me.  But alas, by embracing WebOS maybe I too was embracing the present and not the future.  Lesson learned.

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