A modern smartphone platform built on web technologies. webOS replaced Palm OS and was first featured on the Palm Pre. After HP bought Palm, development slowed, and HP open-sourced webOS in late 2011.
TCL Communications, the parent company of Alcatel OneTouch, today confirmed to Phone Scoop that it has acquired the Palm brand and plans to revive the failed tech company. "We are interested in the brand because we believe the brand has value," said TCL CEO George Guo. "It was once a very strong brand and there are many fans of this brand around the world, including people at TCL." TCL intends to resurrect Palm with new hardware, software, and services — but not on its own. It will ask the community to contribute ideas for potential new devices, operating systems, and apps. It will commit engineers and its manufacturing resources to the project, but hopes much of the R&D will come from the tech community at large. TCL said it hasn't worked out the details of how this community-driven revival will function, but it is confident it can restore luster to the brand. "Palm was an original pioneer and we want to keep it that way. We want to attract the people who have ideas on how to revive the brand in a meaningful way." Guo shot down the idea of using webOS, which is owned by LG, and ran on the Palm Pre, Pixi, and other phones. "We are open to all ideas, but probably not webOS," said Guo. "Palm built by Palm fans is the intent." TCL expects to eventually offer both Alcatel- and Palm-branded products in the US. TCL said it couldn't comment on the terms of the acquisition. It will provide more details as they are developed.
HP recently indicated that it will cease all backend support for WebOS devices on January 15. After that time, WebOS device owners will no longer be able to download or update apps, reset or restore their devices, setup new devices, or retrieve lost passwords. According to HP, the web services shut down will not disable existing hardware. HP recommends that WebOS device owners download any apps they may want to keep prior to November 1, 2014. "Shutting down webOS cloud services is part of an orderly end of life program," explained HP. "HP announced the end of WebOS devices over 3 years ago, but the services were kept running to allow customers to continue to have a richer user experience. The user count has dwindled to the point where it is no longer viable to keep the services running." HP acquired WebOS when it bought Palm in 2010. HP killed its Palm hardware business in 2011 and has since open-sourced WebOS. LG eventually purchased WebOS from HP, which it uses in select consumer electronics.
HP is looking to sell its mobile technology patents in order to improve its financial footing, reports Bloomberg. Most of the patents pertain to webOS, which HP acquired when it bought Palm in 2010. HP killed off Palm's devices in 2011 and eventually open-sourced webOS before selling the operating system to LG. HP has approached several companies that it thinks might be interested in the patents, but those companies were not named by Bloomberg's sources. HP paid $1.2 billion for Palm, but there are no estimates about the value of the remaining patents. HP uses Microsoft's Windows platform and Google's Android platform for its PCs and tablets, respectively.
Qualcomm announced that it has elected Jon Rubinstein to its board of directors. Prior to joining Qualcomm's board, Rubinstein served as CEO of Palm and helped develop webOS and products such as the Palm Pre, Pixi, and Veer. Before leading Palm, Rubinstein worked for Apple on its iPod products. He has extensive experience in the mobile device and wireless industries. "His experience in creating revolutionary consumer electronics and mobile products will provide added insight to Qualcomm's board as we continue to expand the scope and impact of wireless products and technology, improving and enhancing people's lives around the world," said Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs. Qualcomm makes processors, baseband radios, modems, and other components for smartphones, tablets, and wireless devices.
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.
Jolla, a small Finnish company formed by ex-Nokia employees, today offered a first look at its forthcoming smartphone platform called Sailfish. Sailfish is based on Nokia's discarded MeeGo platform and offers a modern, touch-based user interface. According to a short video of the UI, it uses cards and swiping gestures not unlike Palm's webOS to handle the home screen, apps, and multitasking. Jolla also announced that ST-Ericsson has agreed to make chips for Sailfish-based phones, and the Finnish carrier DNA has agreed to sell Sailfish-based phones when they are ready. Jolla has so far only committed to bringing devices to market during the second quarter of 2013.
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.
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.
RIM CEO Thorsten Heins today noted that the BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry 7 platforms will not be compatible. Devices running BlackBerry 7 will not be updated to BlackBerry 10, and apps written for either platform will not necessarily work on the other. This follows similar transitions experienced by Palm and Microsoft when they rebooted their platforms to WebOS and Windows Phone 7, respectively. RIM did say, however, that it is committed to supporting BlackBerry 7.1 for "a while" and that it is likely it will port some BB7 apps to BB10.
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 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.
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."
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.
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.
Phone Scoop is live on site at HP's "Think Beyond" webOS event in San Francisco. Follow our liveblog to get the news as it breaks.
HP's shopping site has started running promos for HP/Palm webOS devices that are expected to be announced later today. Although they give few details, they reveals that the device names will be Pre 3, Veer, and TouchPad.
The Facebook applications for Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform and Palm's webOS platform both received updates this week. The WP7 version received support for Facebook Places, which allows users to check into locations. It also adds the ability to tag photos. The webOS version of Facebook adds Places support, too. Palm also confirmed that Facebook Chat is in the works for webOS, which will use webOS' Synergy platform, and will be available soon.
During its recent developer conference in New York City, Palm provided a lot of information about webOS' future. First and foremost, Palm will begin transitioning away from its Mojo developer environment starting in early 2011 and will replace it with a new developer environment called Enyo. According to Palm, Enyo is faster and easier to work with than Mojo, and it borrows heavily from Palm's browser-based developer tool, called Ares. Palm said that webOS will be able to support multiple different form factors and screen sizes. Palm also announced forthcoming changes to the App Catalog. Starting in early 2011, the App Catalog will support carrier billing. Palm didn't say which carriers would offer billing, however. Palm also said that it is giving app developers the ability to create promotional codes for their apps, so they can be given away for free. Last, Palm will introduce a new version of the App Catalog with the general release of webOS 2.0. The new version will offer better search tools, refined browsing, and better app category groupings.
Palm confirmed during its developer conference today that it will make webOS 2.0 available to all webOS devices at some point in the coming months. WebOS adds a number of new features, including Stacks and Just Type searching.
Today HP announced the new Pre 2 smartphone, which runs webOS 2.0 and will be available from Verizon Wireless "soon." The Pre 2 borrows its design heavily from its predecessor, the Palm Pre. It retains the vertical slider form factor with touch screen and full QWERTY keyboard. The display measures 3.1 inches and has 360 x 480 pixels. Other hardware features include 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi; GPS; Bluetooth 2.1+EDR with A2DP; a 5 megapixel camera with LED flash and video capture; an accelerometer for gaming; and 16GB of on board storage. It will support Verizon's mobile hotspot feature, allowing up to five other devices to tether via Wi-Fi. The webOS 2.0 software has been heavily updated. It now includes support for Adobe Flash Player Mobile 10.1, Bluetooth keyboards, HTML5 within the browser, Skype Mobile, and VPN access for business users. WebOS 2.0 refreshes the way stacks work, which can now be clustered into groups to reduce home screen clutter. Palm has renamed the Universal Search feature to Just Type, and it will support actions such as initiating emails, messages. Another new feature called Exhibition work with the Touchstone charger, and will display the user's daily agenda while the device charges. Neither HP nor Verizon Wireless said when the device will be available, nor what it will cost.
Palm and HP will launch new smartphones based on the WebOS platform some time early next year, says HP Senior Vice President Eric Cador. At an industry conference in Barcelona, Cador made the remarks about upcoming Palm WebOS devices.
Palm today announced WebOS 2.0, the newest version of its smartphone platform. In addition to the new system software, Palm also announced that it will offer a matching software developer kit to select developers starting this week. WebOS will include new features for end users, and the SDK will offer new tools to developers. As far as improvements go, WebOS 2.0 refreshes the way stacks work, which can now be clustered into groups to reduce home screen clutter. Palm has renamed the Universal Search feature to Just Type, and it will support actions such as initiating emails, messages, etc. Palm is also offering developers APIs (application programming interfaces) that will work with Palm's TouchStone charger technology, allowing them to integrate their applications into the charger and other accessories. WebOS' Synergy contact management application receives new tools for developers, who will be able to access more of its code and integrate their own apps/services within Synergy. Other new features are aimed more at developers, such as improved Java performance, HTML5 integration, and new PDKs (plug-in developer kit) that will support C/C++ games and applications for easier porting of apps between platforms. Palm is giving developers an early look at WebOS 2.0. It hasn't announced when WebOS 2.0 will be available for end users.