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Leaks: HP hurt webOS through low resources, rushed shipping

updated 10:55 pm EDT, Mon August 22, 2011

HP leak backs Dartfish, more devices

HP's decision to get out of webOS hardware may have come as much from HP's top-level commands as anything from the webOS team. Insiders in the former Palm group disclosed that having HP onside hadn't translated to more resources. Staff focusing on one project have often delayed another, leading to hardware that was often several months overdue, GDGT heard.

Rapidly shifting prioritization also ended up hurting the prospects for multiple devices, many of which are now known to be real. The Windsor would have shipped in late 2010 but had kept missing deadlines and was reportedly hurt by management. The Stingray, a full-touch phone likened to the HTC Evo 4G, had reached the very end of the prototype stage but had missed multiple critical software milestones. The seven-inch TouchPad Go was indeed close and in debugging, but its fate wasn't clear.

HP's long-rumored Dartfish is now known to have been real and would have been a smartbook-style design that would have almost been a revival of the Foleo, albeit a much more capable, self-contained device.

While some of Palm's existing staff may have been to blame, HP may have made a critical mistake in pushing the TouchPad too hard. Virtually all of the software team was devoted to finishing the tablet, but HP decided to push the design out the door at the objections of then team leader Jon Rubinstein. The former Apple executive was proven right as early reviews complained about the buggy state of the OS at the time, only to see much of it fixed just a few weeks later.

WebOS developers, who were mostly caught by surprise by the news of the hardware cancellations, are still hoping for a last-ditch plan to save the hardware initiatives. Some are using the runaway TouchPad clearance success as evidence that people want webOS hardware and just weren't happy with certain conditions. CEO Leo Apotheker may not be sympathetic given his emphasis on enterprise and his belief that the iPad is killing HP's devices.

Without a hardware revival, many of those still in the webOS team feel the platform is dead given that they have no hardware to focus on.

By Electronista Staff


  1. SergioRS

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2004


    "certain conditions"

    The "runaway success" is because they were selling it at a giveaway price - less than 1/3 of what it cost them to make it. h***, that's 3 or 4 pizzas delivered with tip, of course people snapped it up - flawed as it has been accused of being. I'm sure a good percentage of those sales were speculative, if the plethora of them for sale, unopened, on Craigslist for $250-300 is any indication. Giving away something for considerably less than it costs you to make it is not a valid indicator of its potential success in the marketplace when being compared to the 800lb gorilla in the room known as iPad.

  1. beb

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Jan 2002


    HP & Microsoft (a marriage made in...)

    I'll bet that somebody high up in Redmond made a call somewhere and read HP the riot act for the whole Palm thing. Problem is, HP needs to figure out just where it wants to be as a company. HP should never have spun off Agilent Technologies—nor should they have given up on Palm/WebOS so easily. HP should have paid Amazon money to adopt WebOS. Considering that HP wants to get out of the business of selling PCs, I really wonder what HP will look like in five years. Honestly, I see this as a bunch of highly talented engineers being tormented by the schoolyard bully (Microsoft). I guess we can thank Microsoft for essentially being somewhat complicit in destroying one of America's great companies.

  1. brainiac

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2003


    I am a broken record

    HP increased profits by reducing costs until they could barely functions. Now they survive by name recognition. Many of the innovative employees have left and their product managers do not really know the markets or customer base. If you have little vision of the future and you do not provide employees with the resources to succeed then you are left with what HP has had for the last 6 years; products that no one really needs and that are not really compelling to the market. They take ideas that could have been great and then release them late and in a mundane package.

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