In a shocking development, HP has announced that they plan to discountinue operations for webOS devices, to include the TouchPad and webOS phones.  This leaves Apple, RIM, and Microsoft as the smartphone alternatives to Android, and that makes us sad.  Nobody has the full details just yet, but whispers of licensing out the software or open-sourcing the entire project are already making the rounds, and we certainly hope that webOS isn't just left to die a horrible death on HP printers. 

What does this mean for Android is what we have to ask ourselves, and the jury is still out.  With news of Google buying Motorola, and if HP does license out webOS to OEMs, things could get really interesting.  We'll just have to what and see what develops.

Source: Pre Central


Reader comments

And then there were three [the competition] -- HP to shut down webOS device operations


My Palm Pre died last week. I didn't want to replace it for the third time but the idea of giving up this ecosystem made me sad because it was my first Smartphone. My decision was hard to take because I was, until today, a webOS faithful. I'm now on a Samsung Galaxy S II. Events are often revealing, especially in such circumstances

The Palm Pre Minus was my first smartphone, too. Got mine on launch day. I miss the card interface, but not as much as I thought I would. At its launch, the Pre was the best smartphone out there (the iPhone 3GS hadn't come out yet), but HPalm wasn't nearly aggressive enough in keeping the hardware and software updated.

Eventually, my patience with the lag and miserable text entry was exhausted and I moved on to Android. Something tells me a lot of other WebOS early adopters also arrived here.

Count me as one. I even convinced 3 people to buy the Pre Minus. But here I am with the EVO 3D. I miss multitasking though.

No we don't have multi taking like the Web is does. It is not bad, just the way Web OS would handle it, and switching back and fourth from day one was and is the best by far.I like Android though, but that its the one area I miss.

I agree. You don't know multitasking until you see it on a webOS device. It was incredible. Don't get me wrong, I love the EVO 3D and having actual updated hardware and apps. I just miss that part of webOS.

The card metaphor is the ONLY thing that I miss from my palm pre. My Galaxy S II kills every other features of webOS. Synergy is cool, but every other OSes sync the contacts from various email clients easely. Google should buy webOS. Android + webOS = Crazy sausage fest!

I'm french canadian, my english is not so good. Sorry if you don't understand my thoughts.

Same here. My first smartphone was a Pre Minus, and I got it on launch day. And I switched to Android because of the glacial pace of hardware updates, and Palm's back-and-forth on updating the Minuses to 2.0 (I can't say they had poor software updates, though - they were good about releasing bugfix and incremental updates pretty quickly, and pretty often, when compared to others). I was also greatly disappointed over the poor quality of what had been Palm's greatest strength - the PIM apps - and the horrible battery life.

I was eligible for a free upgrade to an LG Optimus S, and I'm incredibly glad I took it. Better battery life, better options for the PIM apps, more and better free apps, and a camera that can be used for barcode readers.

Still, I am sad to see Palm and WebOS finally die.

Didnt see that coming... read an article yesterday dont remember where but Best Buy was demanding HP buy back 225,000 of their hp/palm/webos tablets because they were taking up their storage space.

I never really played with it that much but I liked the idea. Its always good for the consumer to have more choices, but I guess the people have made their choice.

I wonder if I can get a big discount on a TouchPad now :)

I hope Google/Android picks up some patents. I had a Pre, and I have to say that the "card" system to flip through open/running apps then close them with a "flick" off the screen was phenomenal. Also, the root process was extremely easy and user-friendly. It's just too bad that the rest of the hardware and their app market didn't catch on.

I had the pre also (before I got the Evo) and I really liked WebOS a lot. I definitely think other companies should copy some of what they did. The problem with WebOS is that it never got enough people on board for whatever reason... and therefore, the apps were always behind ios and android.

Yep, it's that critical mass of apps that allowed Apple to dominate for so long. Android was able to get over the hump, but that "no one wants to develop apps for a platform that doesn't already have a ton of apps" mentality makes it really hard to be a newcomer.

Or rather, a newcomer who doesn't have Google's money to throw at the problem.

Wow this is probably because they going to get sued for patents and they must know they will lose and have to pay lots of money? Or its either because they not making enough sales and money so they might start using Android os? :) Sounds interesting.

HP was probably the only outfit that was immune to the patent litigations that have been going around. Their purchase of Palm gave them the most sturdy patent portfolio for smartphones and pda's around. More simply, Palm and then HP couldn't keep up-to-date hardware on carriers so they could entice buys into picking up the phones. Unfortunately it seems like a simple case of bad advertising and slow production speeds.

This is so ridiculous.... I'm sure most (tech-savy) Android users you ask would tell you that a solid WebOS slate device could have gotten them to switch... and it just never happened

Hence "most" not "all." I would modify the statement to say "many." A good many Android users (especially those on Sprint) came from WebOS, kicking and screaming and only because Palm went under and HP couldn't deliver on their promises. I was one of them. If WebOS had an ecosystem like Android does, I would be using it, no question. Frankly, it's a better operating system in my opinion. But Android has power behind it, not the asses who run HP. I've never heard of so many broken promises. Now, I love Android. Google just delivers. If WebOS goes open source, however, and gets run properly, I wouldn't be surprised if I'm a WebOS user come a couple years hence.

I love Android phones but every tablet I've touched I put down in seconds. WebOS is/was the only real competitor currently that could have chipped away at the juggernaut known as "iPAD".

I will miss the idea that was WebOS.

Considering Matias Duarte now works for Google, I think it's safe to say that Android will incorporate some of WebOS's usability features. We'll have to see what they bring with Ice Cream Sandwich.

Android should just flat-out incorporate the card interface. Then HP will loudly threaten to sue and then just... never get around to it, because that's how they roll with WebOS projects.

I loved (love?) webOS. I developed a proof of concept at work and took a well-known app we produce using the working BlackBerry version on my phone to a working webOS version in about a week. And the majority of that time was simply learning the syntax for the stages/cards. HTML, CSS, javascript, ajax calls, etc. - how much simpler can you get for a phone app?

Awesome OS - easy to use, easy to develop for, and very fun. HP bought it and sank it. I am a little bit ticked off, and I think I will buy Dell or Samsung laptops from now on so I don't support the morons at HP who have apparently killed webOS as a phone OS.

I don't plan on buying a tablet ever (I don't see a need for one with my Android phone able to do everything it does and at less than half price). It would take a serious game-changer or some new unfulfilled need for me to buy any tablet. But if I did, webOS would have been on my list of OSes to check out at buying time.

I would have bought a WebOS slate last year, when there was still hope for developer support and mass market adoption. I was a launch customer of the Pre (minus) and kept it for a year...I LOVED the OS...the hardware I had to replace 5 times!!! I gave up and went to Android, and havent looked back. I have had my Samsung Epic for over a year now, and have only ONE minor scratch on the glass (below the screen area, so it doesnt matter), and NO hardware failures. I DO miss the "cards" and some other refinements they had, but overall, I find that Android does everything WebOS does...just faster. Oh, and I have the apps I want to control my lighting (Lutron), my AVR (onkyo) and my TV (Samsung). Those apps would NEVER be coming to WebOS, even if HP didnt kill the OS off, so that kinda precluded any switching.

Did HP even try? They never changed the lackluster hardware of the Pre. Reviewers said the software on the touchPad was buggy. What did HP expect? They never created must have hardware.

Yeah, this is the same problem I have here. It doesn't even seem like HP tried to do anything with WebOS. I'm already on my way to Android, just waiting for a GSII device...

What's with the lackluster phones/tablets from PC manufacturers? The Dell Streak was an interesting form factor, but out of date from day 1. And now this.

Could it be that they've got someone breathing down their necks with a yet-to-be-released tablet OS and making offers they can't refuse?

Or are the Koreans and Chinese just that much better at this stuff?

I agree that HP did not put enough effort or money into designing decent hardware for the HP Touchpad. Buggy software could have been fixed with software updates. The poor design and cheap hardware on the HP Touchpad was not fixable.

Also HP's marketing was terrible. They announced WebOS products (phones and tablet) months before they were ready to sell them. Then when they finally do release a phone it is the HP Veer. HP should have released the Pre 3 first to generate enthusiasm for the WebOS platform.

I hope HP can license or sell WebOS to a hardware manufacturer capable of making decent phones and tablets. HTC would have made a better investment if they had purchased WebOS rather than Beats.

HP is looking to get out of the PC manufacturing game completely so I guess it sorta makes sense. They should just license it to phone makers and see how that goes.

I hope they do license it to handset OEMs, but I wouldn't hold my breath until they did. They don't generate ad revenue like Google, so what would be their reason to license it out? License fees? Would you rather develop a phone with a free* OS or one that cost you money to produce?

Open source it and start pitching it to manufacturers. Maybe then the hole in my heart from when MeeGo died will be filled...

It was just a matter of time. I've been reading PreCentral for a while, and the articles and comments have just been dire and depressing over the past month. They have completely failed in terms of marketing their product. The Pre 2 limped into stores, and the Pre 3 is just now trickling out.

I guess we will have a lot more members...those die hards hoping Sprint would get the hp Fail 3. I'm so glad I made the right decision when I decided to dump WebOS for the Evo 4g and now the Evo 3D when I sense WebOS would be a failure. Time to break out the life boats the SS WebOS is sinking.

Wait. Then there were three? I'm trying to figure who's being left out here. I count four left. Android, iOS, RIM and WP7. Who else have we counted out?

FML. I'm one of those last diehards still nursing a long a barely functioning Sprint Pre-. Guess I'll be going out and buying an Android device. Someone on Android Central should write an article on switching from WebOS to Android. :D

There already something written to assist WebOS defectors to get accustom to the Android world in the forms.

I have a Pre minus and I LOVED it but HPalm couldn't have handled the whole thing worse. It is sad when you have a kick butt operating system but crappy hardware that is outdated the second you release it.

To bad.

The OS had a lot of promise but the palp pre was just horribly designed hardware wise. I went through 4 in one year and I baby my phones. I liked the way they handled running programs and how you could just flick away a program to close it.

Wait, I thought HP was sure they would be Number One Plus. Nary a month after release and half a year after their acquisition of Palm and they call it quits?

Damn shame.

WebOS was fantastic and user friendly. The phone was totally junk though. I went through 5 in 6 months for stupid stuff like speakers quitting, power switch broke, etc. I too went the Pre, EVO and now E3D route. Looking back, I made the right choice. WebOS was and still is a great OS though.

Suddenly my XOOM 3G early adoption seems trivial.

Poor little fishy was mere sushi for the sharks...RIP.

Since Google's on a patent binge, buying up webOS and/or Palm's patent portfolio makes a whole lot of sense right now.

I wonder how the WebOS fanbois and Precentral will try to spin this. I feel sorry for anyone who brought the hp Failpad and accessories...better try and get that refund and wait to the price drops to $99.

They seem to think that this is a precursor to licensing WebOS to other hardware developers. Like anyone actually wants to develop hardware for a complete fail of an operating system.

There was some coming apart at the seams also. Count me as a fanboy but got tired of waited for a new webOS device and got the EVO 3D. I sure wish HPalm would have actually did something good with the OS rather then release outdated hardware.

You can look if you like -- they don't bite :) I've been on PreCentral since I got my original Pre, just over 2 years ago. This is a big surprise because just last night I was reading about how new 64Gb Touchpads were on pre-order in France, and the Pre3 had just become available in the UK.

As far as the reception of the news goes, there are a small number of people looking for licensing options, possibly to Samsung as a counterweight against Google's purchase of Motorola. There were rumors a few months ago about HP licensing to Samsung, so this is not surprising.

Overall, though, there is not a lot of spin -- most are convinced that this is the death of WebOS as a phone/tablet platform, and this is coming from the already depleted set of convinced WebOS users who have hung in there due to their affection for the platform. I say "convinced" rather than "loyal" because from what I've seen it's not just a matter of sticking with a label or buying whatever HP/Palm puts out. WebOS really is a good platform with some true innovations. But HP, and Palm before it, have done a terrible job of promoting it, and for HP the timing is bad with a lot of pressure already on their stock price and decreasing margins on PC sales.

It could be the case that HP will try to use WebOS as a niche product on their hardware. But it wouldn't surprise me if they try to sell the IP instead. While this is a tough time to get into the smartphone market, it's an excellent time to sell patent portfolios.

So... they're not going to stop development of webOS - they're just not going to make any devices. Yeah, that makes sense. HP doesn't make computers/laptops/mobile devices... oh wait. YES THEY DO.

WTH, HP? The only reason you don't have a big share of the market like Android and iOS is because you only have a couple of crappy devices. The Pre and Pixi? Really? I held one of each and thought the Pre felt like a cheap, folding pocket calculator and the Pixi a cheap knock-off of a BlackBerry. Crappy plastic trim and cheesy hinges.

How about just making SOLID phones out of metal, glass, and blood/sweat/tears like Apple and HTC/Moto/LG/Samsung/Nokia/Huawei/etc. instead of cheap plastic things? And try making more than two before you give up. Pre and Pixi were it, right? (other than the plus versions of the same blasted phones)

Wow, way to be a quitter, HP. I hope you sell webOS to someone like Nokia that can truly love it and hates Android, so they will feel the need to actually compete and we can at least get some decent phones that run the software. The webOS OS was awesome, and developing apps for it was a breeze. Please don't let it die by keeping it to yourselves and not licensing it out (for free so it can actually compete with Android).

webOS was awesome and had the potential to dominate. Unfortunately practically everything after the original CES début was botched. It was a series of delays, broken promises and lacklustre hardware. If the hardware had launched on-time and in the midst of the hype it would have done well. Unfortunately it was delayed for so long that it was effectively dead on arrival. This trend continued. The hardware was improving (see the TouchPad or Veer) but it was too little too late. It is sad when a great product is killed through mismanagement. I had a launch day Pre. I am now on a Galaxy S2. Hardware and developer support aside it is second best to my Pre running webOS. I feel sorry for those who loyally stuck by webOS and have just been bent over by HP.

Yep, I agree, the Veer was too "LITTLE" and definitely too late...it was a joke of a phone no matter how you spin it.

I think Sprint predicted this a long time ago that's why they never got anymore hp/Palm failed devices no matter how much the fanbois begged and pleaded. After all those returns and repairs and giving out countless devices I don't blame them.

Here are my thoughts:

- Is it me, or does it seem like they didn't even try? They only launched the Veer and the tablet, no Pre 3, no High End device and not even a year after they announced their plans.

- Licensing WebOS is an awesome idea! I hope a few companies will give it a go.

- What if they turned WebOS into something like Sense - put it on top of Android ... I think that would be wicked!

- I got rid of my Pre- in June because I got tired of waiting for the Pre 3 or something else for sprint, so, I got the EVO 3D. I miss the WebOS card system, Just Type, Synergy and gesture swipes - they had it down pat. I hope it finds its way one to Android. :)

Wonder if HTC would buy it and make it their own because of fears over Google/Motorola. Or Microsoft buy it and just rebrand WebOS as Windows Phone 8 or 9. As much as I would love for Google to get it, I just don't see it considering everything else they have going on right now.

Thats Very Unfortunate!! I really liked WebOS when I had my palm pre I just didn't like the Palm pre device it self.. I hope they don't let that awesome OS go to waste.

You may be right, or even underestimating since there are significant shutdown costs too. On the other hand, originally when HP bought Palm there were opinions that the purchase was mostly for the IP, not for the OS. I would think that the IP still has some value, possibly even more than it had before with the recent proliferation of patent lawsuits. Maybe Google was unlucky with its timing. If they had waited a bit, they could have offered, say, $3-5B for Palm's smartphone patents instead of paying $12B for Motorola's.

What about all those poor suckers that cancelled their Sprint contracts, paying the ETF in anticipation that the hp fail 3 was going to Verizon or AT&T.

It makes sense for HP to license it out to other phone manufacturer's especially in light of Google purchasing Motorola. HP never put any resources into designing a phone worthy of WebOS. Just the same form factor with a slightly bigger screen and faster CPU. As we've all seen, none of the cell vendors in Europe had any plans to stock the Pre 3. The Pre Plus and Pre 2 were flops. The Touchpad was a flop. So HP is bailing. Hopefully they do license the OS out but if they don't or if they do and it doesn't get any licensees or any traction in the market place, it would be said just to see it die.

Agreed.. I LOVE the card multitasking of my original Pre, but when they dropped support for Palm Classic with WebOS 2.0, I had to drop WebOS and move to Android. The apps just weren't there. I wish that we cold get a card-view multitasking working on Android! I tried Itching Thumb once, but it just wasn't the same. It's always nice to be in one app and copy data out and paste it into another without loosing your place in that app and having it refresh on you. Android just hasn't gotten that part of the multitasking features down yet.

wow but again hp fail how do you buy a company and put out the exact same hardware even slower? i thought the point was to revise the hardware correct me i f im wrong but Palm was already struggling when HP bought them!

I enjoyed the original Pre purchased on release date for almost a year. R.I.P. Was great at that time as was/ is Precentral!

webOS, i leave you alone for barely a month, and this is what happens?!

i can't take you anywhere nice!

I too was a loyal early adopter of a Pre, and I still believe WebOS is the most elegant & intuitive mobile OS going. But I'm typing this on my HTC DINC2 which I purchased last month. After waiting patiently for the Pre3, I saw the handwriting on the wall when HP couldn't get any US carrier to support it. Like Betamax and Laserdiscs, sometimes the best isn't enough to stave off defeat. I'm loving my HTC phone and for the most part, enjoying Android too. Farewell, WebOS. You gave it a good shot.

What a fail....BIG FAIL...i was an early adopter of the first pre and tried to stick with it and gave it so many benefits of the doubt....but palm could not deliver consistently and it looks like they were doomed from the beginning of the pre launch because it seems even hp cannot help them. Just such a BIG FAIL -_-

I say screw HP webos and them all I jumpped to the webos ship but it sank Wasted time and money on my part all my webos shit and HP shit as well is going on eBay I am done I feel betrayed...

I am saddened by the turn of event ,like someone posted earlier HP made promises it couldn't keep . I was so proud to be the owner of the palm pre from its birth ,Shooo one would think I worked for palm back then the way I was pushing this phone with its amazing WEBOS,but yes I jumped ship as soon as the EVO came out with its majestic screen but I said then if PALM / HP Would equal the screen size with better hardware I would've done a 360!but here I sit still with my original EVO and loving it. RIP WEBOS !............ps.ANDROID with WEBOS am loving that even more ! Am I dreaming ? Lol

This is sad. I will argue with anyone that WebOS may be the best mobileOS out there. Multitasking, Universal search, Synergy, even rooting, it was all superbly done. I had a palm pre plus ( well 3 of them total) and the only thing missing was the apps. Had to jump ship when the VEER came out, app development stalled, and the unreasonable delay of the Pre3. Now I have an used OG droid waiting the upcoming Verizon super-phone war at the end of this year. Hope someone picks up the IP and puts it to good use.

I have a Palm Pre and I aboslutely love my phone. I have looked at many phones to upgrade to and it appears to be the Samsung Galaxy S II, though i was hoping to get the rumored WebOS device we all heard about some time ago, but what can you do? It is a sad thing to read and to take in.

I don't miss my Pre at all, find the Wave Launcher app. after you learn how to use it it's just as good a multi tasking app as the cards were on the Pre. IMO, better.

The way I see it is if iOS can copy Android's notifications system then Android and copy WebOS's multitasking system. As long as they don't change the core operation of the OS it would be a really nice addition. Keep the desktop as is just holding home now opens up a card view of all your apps running. And keep the swipe up to close feature.

Don't get me wrong, I love my Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY ("PlayStation phone"), but if Palm had actually released their products outside of North America, I would've bought a webOS-powered device in a heartbeat over Android!

I just don't get it, Palm seemed to be confused as to why they were making no money, but it's pretty obvious that if you don't sell your product, you're not going to make money.

And then they sold it all to HP- I said at the time that was a mistake, knowing that HP would either "throw it away" (as is the case here), or completely ruin it...

You had a good thing Palm, and you left it to die.