LG today revealed that it has agreed to acquire the webOS operating system from HP for an undisclosed sum. LG said it has no intension to use webOS in mobile phones, as it is happy to use Google's Android mobile operating system in its smartphones. Instead, LG plans to take advantage of webOS in its smart television and other consumer electronics products. WebOS began life in 2009 as then-Palm's new operating system. Palm and webOS were later acquired by HP, which eventually shuttered the operating system and made it open source. WebOS will continue to be developed by LG at its Sunnyvale, Calif., R&D facility. Details about employee transitions, financials, and how the deal affects the open source version of webOS were not immediately made available.
HP appears to be seeking developers for its webOS platform, based on job listings that appear on HP's employment web site. Job titles that appear on the HP job board include software engineers, product managers, and many others for both webOS and Enyo (webOS's development framework). Even though HP no longer makes webOS-based hardware, it recently released Open webOS 1.0 to the open source community and continues to support the platform. HP has not provided any specific explanation behind the need for so many webOS-focused employees given the defunct nature of the OS, but the company has admitted recently that it does need to offer a smartphone sooner rather than later.
A group of 10 companies today revealed they have formed a patent-pooling collective. Via Licensing, an organization that was spun off from Dolby Laboratories, is meant to gather together LTE-based patents and license them as a large group on behalf of all the members, rather than separately per company. Some of the initial members include AT&T, HP, and Clearwire from the U.S., as well as KDDI, NTT DoCoMo, Telefonica, and Telecom Italia. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Via Licensing CEO Roger Ross said that the patents contributed to the pool are all standard essential. "One of the things that we do is give them a conduit to ensure that we are meeting their RAND obligations," he said. The group hopes that by collecting and licensing their patents together, they will be able to avoid patent-based litigation altogether. Some of the most important LTE patent-holding companies have yet to join, such as Qualcomm, Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, and Apple. Via Licensing's Ross expects more companies will join over time.
HP CEO Meg Whitman said that the company will return to the smartphone business, at some point. "We have to ultimately offer a smartphone because in many countries of the world that would be your first computing device," she said to FOX Business. "We are a computing company, we have to take advantage of that form factor." HP purchased Palm for its webOS smartphone platform in 2010, but effectively shuttered the Palm unit in August 2011. HP recently released a beta of open webOS operating system to the developer community. Whitman didn't provide a timeframe for when it might jump back into the smartphone business, not did she indicate what platform HP might use.
HP today announced in a blog post that it has released an open beta of webOS to developers under an Apache 2.0 license. According to HP, the beta includes two development environments, including one for desktop machines and an embedded version for new mobile hardware. In addition to making the code available, HP is encouraging the open source community to make code contributions through several different avenues offered in the HP developer program. The release also offers a few new features to the platform itself, include new gestures and card stacks. The webOS beta is available for free via the HP developer site. HP committed to making webOS available as an open source platform by September of this year, and has been releasing bits and pieces of code at regular intervals. This is the most complete offering yet.
HP today confirmed that it has carved a new niche for its webOS team, now called Gram, which will be responsible for the remnants of webOS and its the Enyo project. Gram is a wholly-owned subsidiary that will be run by HP. Gram will continue to deliver the HTML5-based Enyo code to the open source community, but beyond that not much is know about Gram's aims and goals. Gram will operate from within its current space at HP's campus. Based on the contents of an internal memo that Gram confirmed was legitimate, Gram considers itself to be a new company operating in stealth mode. It is even seeking new talent, despite the fact that HP has gutted most of the former Palm employees. HP purchased Palm in 2010 for $1.2 billion, but killed of webOS smartphones and tablets in August 2011.
HP today announced that its Enyo 2 platform has moved out of beta and is now "production ready." Enyo stems from Palm's webOS software, which HP said it would open source in late 2011. HP released Enyo 1, which used webOS code, in January. HP says that Enyo 2 has a bevy of new features, including new Onyx widgets, a new sampler for developers, and a new sign-off process for developers looking to contribute code. HP explains that Enyo allows developers to create cross-platform applications that will run in mobile and desktop browsers from iOS to IE8. HP says that Enyo has received a lot of support form the developer community. "We see a web-centric future in which there aren’t iOS apps, Android apps, Mac apps and Windows apps – there are just apps: apps that let you access your content and get stuff done, wherever you happen to be, on whatever device is handy," said HP. The company concedes that there is still plenty of work to be done, but today's milestone is a notable one for the platform's future.
HTC has filed claims against Apple in Florida that allege the iPhone maker is violating two patents that HTC acquired from HP. The first patent pertains to "installation of network services in an embedded network server" and the second pertains to "method and system for central management of a computer network." Between these two patents, HTC says a number of Apple devices violate its intellectual property, including the iPhone, iPad, Mac computers and certain software programs. The countersuit was filed in retaliation for a lawsuit from Apple accusing HTC os similar patent violations.
Eastman Kodak on Monday filed a lawsuit in Manhattan against Apple, claiming that the iPhone maker is wrongfully asserting ownership of 10 patents and thereby throwing a wrench into Kodak's efforts to sell those patents. Kodak is accusing Apple of attempting to "delay and derail" its patent sale. In a statement, Kodak said, "Apple's strategy has been to use its substantial cash position to delay as long as possible the payment of royalties to Kodak and to interfere [with the sale]. Apple and FlashPoint (an Apple spin-off that is also claiming ownership) are seeking to benefit from Kodak's difficult financial position, which will be exacerbated if the debtors cannot obtain fair value for the patents." Kodak is requesting that Apple's ownership claims of the patents in question be dismissed.
HP has laid off 275 employees from its webOS division. The layoffs follow the company's recent open-sourcing on the webOS platform. HP laid off more than 500 webOS employees last September. "As WebOS continues the transition from making mobile devices to open-source software, it no longer needs many of the engineering and other related positions that it required before," said HP in a statement. "This creates a smaller and more nimble team that is well equipped to deliver an open source WebOS and sustain HP's commitment to the software over the long term." HP announced in August that it would no longer make smartphones and tablets based on webOS, and is currently in the process of making the mobile platform available to the open source community.
Jon Rubinstein, former CEO of Palm, has left HP, reports AllThingsD. Rubinstein spearheaded Palm's development of webOS and associated smartphones in its attempt to regain its lost status as a premiere smartphone purveyor. Rubinstein continued to lead the Palm unit within HP once the acquisition took place, but was eventually moved to other roles after HP decided to kill off its smartphone and tablet businesses. Rubinstein has completed a commitment to remain with the company for a specific amount of time. He has no immediate plans.
HP today released webOS 2.2.4 for Pre phones. The update improves contacts, calendar and messaging, while improving Skype support and adding the MAP Bluetooth profile.
HP today announced the fate of its beleaguered webOS smartphone platform: it will be contributed to the open source community, along with the Enyo application framework. HP said it will remain an active participant in the development and of the operating system, saying that there is plenty of opportunity to improve webOS. HP said that it will make the underlying code of webOS available under an open source license to whomever wants to use it. Henceforth, developers, hardware manufacturers and others can continue to work on webOS and update it as necessary. "webOS is the only platform designed from the ground up to be mobile, cloud-connected and scalable," said Meg Whitman, HP president and chief executive officer in a prepared statement. "By contributing this innovation, HP unleashes the creativity of the open source community to advance a new generation of applications and devices." HP acquired webOS when it bought Palm in 2010. It released several webOS devices, most recently the TouchPad tablet, before deciding in August to cease all further development of smartphones and tablets.
HP is considering whether or not it should sell webOS to an unknown suitor for hundreds of millions of dollars, reports Reuters, citing four sources familiar with the matter. HP acquired webOS when it closed its acquisition of Palm in July 2010. It paid $1.2 billion for Palm. HP has been unable to capitalize on the mobile operating system developed by Palm, and in August of this year decided to shutter its webOS-based smartphone and tablet businesses. Reuters reports that several companies are interested in webOS, including Oracle, though probably for the patents that are part of the operating system and not for the platform itself. Bank of America Merrill Lynch is advising HP on the deal. HP and Bank of America declined to comment on Reuters' story.
HP's new CEO Meg Whitman announced that the company now intends to retain its PC business. Former HP CEO Leo Apotheker revealed a plan in August that would have jettisoned the company's hardware business in a shift to a services-only company. Whitman's decision reverses that plan, which she said made "no sense" for HP. "I have a lot of confidence we've made the right decision and now we're going to go back to work and go execute," she said. As part of the August strategy shift, HP also said that it intended to kill off its webOS-based smartphone and tablet businesses. HP now says that it is planning to build tablets using the Windows 8 platform from Microsoft rather than webOS. WebOS's future as a smartphone platform, however, remains cloudy. Todd Bradley, the head of HP's PC unit, said that the company will "clearly look at what's the right path forward for webOS." In the past, the company indicated that it might license webOS to other manufacturers or sell it.
HP/Palm recently announced a brand new mapping application for its webOS smartphones. HP/Palm has replaced the Google Maps engine behind the map app with Microsoft's Bing Maps (same version as on the TouchPad tablet). HP/Palm says the revised application should show significant performance improvements on the Pre, Pixi, Pre2, and Veer. Other new features of the app include map and satellite views; driving, walking, and transit directions; and access to recent and bookmarked locations. The application is a free download from the App Catalog.
HP today announced that it has replaced CEO Leo Apotheker with former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. Apotheker is vacating his role as president, CEO, and director effective immediately. Apotheker served as HP's CEO for just 11 months. Under his leadership, HP decided to kill off its webOS smartphone and tablet business. In a statement, HP said, "We are at a critical moment and we need renewed leadership to successfully implement our strategy and take advantage of the market opportunities ahead. Meg is a technology visionary with a proven track record of execution. She is a strong communicator who is customer focused with deep leadership capabilities. Furthermore, as a member of HP’s board of directors for the past eight months, Meg has a solid understanding of our products and markets."
According to sources cited by Bloomberg, HP's board of directors is considering plans to rid itself of Chief Executive Officer Leo Apotheker, who's helmed the company for less than a year, and replace him with former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. HP has had a tumultuous year under Apotheker's leadership, and recently killed off its smartphone and tablet businesses. HP also recently announced plans to sell off its PC/hardware business and focus more on software and services, similar to IBM. HP's strategic changes have been met with investor ire. It is unclear if any of HP's recent strategic decisions might be reversed under new leadership. HP this week began the process of laying off more than 500 former Palm employees as it winds down the webOS business unit.
HP confirmed today that it has started workforce reductions in what's left of its Palm smartphone business. Layoffs commenced today and more than 500 are expected to lose their jobs. "As communicated on August 18, HP will discontinue the development of webOS devices within the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2011, which ends October 31, 2011, said HP to AllThingsD. "As part of this decision, the webOS GBU is undergoing a reduction in workforce. Today's actions are part of this initiative. During this time, we stand by our commitment to our webOS customers and will work to ensure that support and service for customers are not adversely affected. HP is exploring ways to leverage webOS software." HP has said that it is considering licensing deals and possibly even an outright sale of webOS, though no solid decisions had been made.
HP has officially said that the Pre 3, first introduced in February, will not be sold in the U.S. at all. It will be sold unlocked in the the U.K. and France only for approximately $75. It can roam on the EDGE networks of both AT&T and T-Mobile, but doesn't support full 3G for either carrier.
Speaking in an interview with BusinessWeek, HP senior vice president Stephen DeWitt said that HP will continue to support the platform. "The webOS is not dead. We're going to continue to evolve it, update, and support it. We stand by it," he said. HP announced on Thursday plans to drop its smartphone and tablet businesses entirely, killing off products such as the Pre 3 and TouchPad. While webOS-based smartphones will no longer be developed by HP, DeWitt indicated that it is going to use webOS for other purposes. "The whole world isn't just about tablets and phones. There are going to be appliances of so many different sizes and shapes in the future that are going to require a human interface for data." Earlier this year, HP said it hoped to put webOS in devices such as laptops and printers. DeWitt didn't specify exactly how its existing webOS services -- such as the App Catalog -- will be managed over the coming months. He reiterated that he company is still weighing options for the future of webOS. Licensing it to other hardware makers or selling it outright are still on the table. In the mean time, owners of webOS-based devices don't have to worry about support for their platform drying up over night.
HP plans to exit the smartphone and tablet businesses and will cease creating new devices based on webOS, which it acquired last year when it bought Palm. HP said in a statment, "HP plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones. HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward." HP is also exploring the sale of its Personal Systems Group, which is responsible for its consumer and business computing devices. Palm debuted the first webOS smartphone, the Pre, in January 2009. It reached the market in June of that year. It was followed by several more webOS-based phones, including the Pixi, Pre Plus, and Pre 2. HP announced the Pre 3 earlier this year, but today's news suggests that it will never be sold. webOS was masterminded by Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein, brought in from Apple to revive Palm's flagging smartphone business. webOS was a complete break from Palm's previous mobile platforms.
HP today announced a staffing change at the internal unit responsible for webOS. The former Palm entity is now being referred to as the webOS Global Business Unit. In addition to the name change, former Palm and HP webOS head Jon Rubinstein has been reassigned to a senior vice president role of product innovation within the Personal Systems Group at HP. At the same time, HP appointed Stephen DeWitt as senior vice president and general manager of its webOS global business unit. Rubinstein was brought in to help revive Palm and was behind the development of webOS and Palm/HP devices such as the Pre, Pixi, and Veer.
HP CEO Leo Apotheker has confirmed that the company is speaking to other hardware makers about licensing its webOS mobile platform. "We are talking to a number of companies," Apotheker said. "I can share with you that a number of companies have expressed interest. We are continuing our conversations." Apotheker didn't name any companies, but Bloomberg, citing sources familiar with the matter, reports that Samsung is one of the interested parties. HP's management had hinted recently that they'd consider licensing webOS to other hardware makers. By licensing the platform, it would allow phone makers such as Samsung to build webOS-based smartphones. Apotheker said that the company isn't rushing into any deals, though. "There is no time pressure to do this."
Microsoft today submitted a filing with the Delaware bankruptcy court overseeing the auction of Nortel's patents. Microsoft objects to the current terms of the patent auction, and it claims to have "worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free license to all of Nortel's patents" according to a deal it struck with the company in 2006. Nortel said that Google, which has placed a $900 million bid on the patents, has agreed to honor the existing agreements that Nortel made concerning the 6,000 patents available. Microsoft believes that language should be added to the terms of sale that would make the existing agreements "enforceable against the purchasers of the transferred patents." HP, Motorola, and Nokia have also filed objections to the terms of the sale. Nortel is selling the patents to repay creditors as part of its bankruptcy settlement. Other companies, including Apple, Sony Ericsson and possibly RIM, are expected to participate in the auction later this month.
According to sources cited by Bloomberg, HP is working on mobile devices that will include near field communications technology to enable mobile payments. Bloomberg's sources said that HP is looking to add mobile payment features to both phones and tablets, and the first products may be available as soon as the end of the year. HP is taking the measure to ensure that its webOS platform and smartphones/tablets remain competitive with rival platforms. A number of NFC-based mobile payment systems are in the works from leading companies such as Google, Samsung, Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and others. HP declined to comment on Bloomberg's story.
Speaking today at the AllThingsD conference, HP CEO Leo Apetheker said that the company is open to licensing webOS, which it acquired when it purchased Palm in July 2010. Apotheker said, "WebOS will also be adopted by many partners who provide services to small and medium businesses. Traditionally HP has a strong channel into medium companies. … I happen to believe that WebOS is a uniquely outstanding operating system. It's not correct to believe that it should only be on HP devices. There are all kinds of other people who want to make whatever kind of hardware they make and would like to connect them to the Internet. We'll make it available to enterprises and to SMBs. It will run on lots of HP devices." Apotheker also noted that the company believes webOS can become the number three smartphone platform, behind Google's Android and Apple's iOS. The company plans to install webOS on its PCs, laptops, and other devices. Apotheker hinted that HP is also prepared to unleash new smartphones with webOS on board. Its most recent phone, the Veer 4G, is available from AT&T.
The FCC today approved a new smartphone from HP that perfectly matches the specs of the previously-announced Pre 3. FCC documents show that the CDMA version of the phone will also include quad-band GSM and WCDMA 900 / 2100 radios for roaming in Europe. This global roaming feature was not previously announced by HP / Palm.
Speaking to Phone Scoop today at an event in New York City, AT&T spokesperson Seth Bloom confirmed that the network operator is not yet ready to market where it offers "enhanced backhaul" services. As AT&T moves forward in building out its HSPA+ network, one of the sticking points of getting the best possible speeds is that the cell site users connect to needs to have enhanced backhaul. The cell sites with enhanced backhaul have higher throughput than non-enhanced cell sites. Bloom explained that if customers drill down far enough into the coverage maps of specific metro areas, they may be able to see a cell site-by-cell site designation of areas that have enhanced backhaul, but the vast majority of cell sites have yet to be upgraded with the faster equipment. Bloom said that AT&T is going to be aggressively building its enhanced backhaul systems out this year, and expects to have the majority of its HSPA+ sites "enhanced" by the close of 2011. For now, however, AT&T is not planning to market or clearly define where its fastest "4G" network is available. Bottom line, AT&T hasn't defined the criteria (a.k.a., enhanced backhaul cell density) by which it will refer to a given market as completely covered with enhanced backhaul. It will be up to customers to manually seek out the best coverage. By way of comparison, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless go out of their way to announce where their best service is available.
AT&T today announced that it will offer the HP Veer 4G starting on May 15. The Veer is the smallest webOS smartphone from HP (Palm) to date, touted as being the size of a credit card and no thicker than a deck of cards. The Veer 4G sports "4G" speeds of up to 14.4 Mbps down and 5.76 Mbps up. The phone will be an AT&T exclusive in the US, and will be available in both black and white. The price will be $99 with two-year contract.
HP today announced that it is offering a software developer kit (SDK) of webOS 3.0 to those developers registered to its Early Access program. Though webOS 3.0 will initially appear on HP's TouchPad tablet later this year, HP said that some elements seen in the refreshed user interface will eventually trickle down to its smartphones. The webOS 3.0 SDK lets developers use the new Enyo framework, integrate Just Type, Synergy and Exhibition into their apps, as well as find information about designing and structuring apps.
Phone Scoop goes hands-on with the new HP Veer and Pre 3 smartphones. These fresh webOS handsets pack more of a punch than their predecessors did.
Today HP announced the Veer, a webOS smartphone with a full side-out QWERTY keyboard, 2.6-inch screen, gesture area, HSPA+, Wi-Fi mobile hotspot, and a 5-megapixel camera. Under the hood is an 800 MHz Snapdragon processor and 8 GB of storage memory. It looks very similar to the Pre 2. It will be available this spring.