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WebOS App Catalog Revealed

Posted by Andrew at 1:24 AM on November 14, 2011

HP WebOS LogoAnother week with no news from HP, another investigation by the WebOS Internals crew. This time they’ve directed their attention at HP’s App Catalog for WebOS to reveal everything you ever wanted to know…and probably some stuff you didn’t really care about.

- There are 8399 unique apps.
- There are 3514 apps that work on all WebOS devices.
- There are 5562 apps for the TouchPad.
- There are 6454 apps for the Pre 3.
- There are 6440 apps for the Veer.
- There are 7116 apps for the Pre 2.
- There are 6024 apps for the Pixi.
- There are 6761 apps for the Pre and Pre Plus.
- There are 1904 app contributors.
- There are 2642 apps that are free and 84 that cost $10 or more. 2638 cost 99c.
- Accuweather is the first app in the Catalog.
- Mayo Clinic High Blood Pressure is the largest app at 1.6 GB.
- It would cost $13,293.15 to download all the apps.
- It would take a 90 GB WebOS device to install them all. (Go on HP, let’s see a 128 GB TouchPad 2.)

Well, that’s probably enough for now. If you want to keep up-to-date on WebOS Internal’s work, you can follow @webosinternals on Twitter.

HP Still Thinking On WebOS

Posted by Andrew at 1:42 AM on November 9, 2011

HP WebOS LogoHP has still hasn’t decided what to do with WebOS but appears to be taking the decision seriously. At an all-employee meeting last night with the WebOS team in Sunnyvale, new CEO Meg Whitman, reportedly said, “It’s really important to me to make the right decision, not the fast decision,” and “If HP decides to do this,we’re going to do  it in a very significant way over a multi-year period.

Setting this against reports coming out of Reuters that HP had engaged with Bank of America Merrill Lynch to sell WebOS for just hundreds of millions of dollars, rather than the $1.2 billion HP paid for Palm, it seems clear that Meg Whitman is seriously evaluating all the options for the future of the mobile operating system. She’s reportedly also said, “The question now before us is what do we do with webOS software and do we come back to market with webOS devices? It obviously will not be the same device but it will be version 2.0.”

What does seem to be clear is that any future thoughts focus on tablets rather than mobile phones. At the all-hands meeting, Whitman reportedly said that, “Things get more complicated if you add in phones.” While the TouchPad may continue, it sounds like Pre and Veer are dead as product lines whatever happens, but you never know.

On one hand, it’s easy to criticise HP for continuing to dither, but to me it appears that Meg Whitman is doing a proper evaluation of the options available, rather than taking the somewhat whimsical approach take by her predecessor Leo Apotheker. If WebOS is retained by HP in addition to the PSG group, it will be one of the biggest corporate turnarounds in history!

4.2 Million WebOS Users?

Posted by Andrew at 8:50 AM on November 6, 2011

HP TouchPadOver the weekend, an amazing piece of detective work by the WebOS Internals team and some crowd-sourcing via Twitter has revealed that there approximately 4.2 million WebOS users, give or take.

Every WebOS phone or tablet user has to create a profile in order to use their device. Each profile has a unique identifier, a number that appears to simply increment by 1 as each new profile is created. Early Palm Pre adopters have identifiers typically in the 10,000s whereas those who started with the TouchPad are in the milllons. The profile identifier cannot normally be seen by the user but a Homebrew program called Impostah, developed by Rod Whitby and WebOS Internals, allowed this number to be revealed.

Using Twitter, WebOS owners were encouraged to come forwards with their identifier and the date they signed up so that a graph of identifiers against time could be plotted, showing the rise of WebOS and key moments in the timeline, such as the release of new devices. The graph, courtesy of WebOS Internals, is shown below and what you can see is a fairly steady rise reaching around 4.2 million. The most notable point is probably when HP had the TouchPad firesale and the graph climbs steeply. Click on the graph for more detail.

Graphing HP WebOS Usage

The number of profiles is slightly ambiguous when trying to convert to numbers of users or number of devices because while you can only have one phone per profile, you can have a phone and a tablet. For example, if you had both a Veer and a Pre 3 you would need two profiles, but if you had a Pre 3 and a TouchPad you’d only need one profile. Obviously, there are also accounts that have become dormant when the owner has moved to another platform.

In comparison to iOS and Android, both of which have in excess of 100 million users each, the 4 million-odd WebOS users are a drop in the ocean. Regardless, the graph shows that there was slow but steady adoption of a little under 2 million per year. Of course, HP continues to dither over the future of WebOS.

The WebOS Internals team are a bunch of hackers (in the best sense of the word) who created a whole Homebrew ecosystem under the Preware moniker that allowed Pre owners to add easily add patches and other software outside of the official App Catalog.  They’re probably WebOS’s best last chance.

HP Changes Its Mind

Posted by Andrew at 1:32 PM on October 27, 2011

HP LogoAfter an “evaluation of strategic alternatives”, HP has decided not to either sell or spin off the Personal Systems Group (PSG). Given the plummet of the share price on the original review announcement and the subsequent departure of the then-CEO Leo Apotheker, this is not entirely unsurprising news.

The new CEO and HP President, Meg Whitman, said, “HP objectively evaluated the strategic, financial and operational impact of spinning off PSG. It’s clear after our analysis that keeping PSG within HP is right for customers and partners, right for shareholders, and right for employees. HP is committed to PSG, and together we are stronger.

Apparently the in-depth strategic review revealed that the PSG was tightly integrated throughout HP’s operations and brought significant value to HP’s brand and portfolio. The cost of extracting PSG from HP negated any possible benefits from the split of the organisation. There’s a surprise.

No news on whether WebOS will get a reprieve but more may be revealed at a this afternoon’s press call (5pm Eastern)

Update: based on the press call, it’s “wait and see” for a few months with regard to WebOS. There’s more over at PreCentral.

Decision Time For HP and WebOS

Posted by Andrew at 5:49 AM on October 11, 2011

HP TouchPad

The rumours continue to swirl around HP and WebOS but AppleInsider is claiming that the fate of WebOS could be decided today (11th October). Reports suggest that the initial bidding process is complete and that an annoucement may be made after a meeting today to confirm the next step in the sale process.

There’s been much speculation as to who the prospective bidders might be. At various times HTC, Samsung, Qualcomm and Facebook have all been in the picture, some more realistically than others, and one of the current hot favourites is Amazon. Looking back at when Palm was up for sale and HP purchased it, BusinessInsider claimed there were five serious suitors, suggesting Apple, Lenovo, Research in Motion (RIM), Google and of course, HP. Which of these would still be interested given the success that HP made of Palm?

Some were after Palm’s considerable patent portfolio rather than WebOS itself, and the famous “smartphone” patent in particular. Even HP were pretty upfront about this with Mark Hurd saying that HP wasn’t buying Palm to be in the smartphone business. (How prophetic was that?)  Ultimately the nature of the sale may depend on HP’s feelings towards WebOS. Do they want to simply get as much as they can of their $1.2 billion back as quickly as they can, or do they want WebOS to succeed, even if HP was unable to make it a winner. Only time will tell.

Read related articles at GNC for HP, Palm and WebOS.

HP Pushes All-In-One Form Factor for PCs

Posted by Andrew at 5:45 AM on September 7, 2011

HP thinks that the future of the desktop is in the all-in-one form factor with the announcement today of no less than seven new devices aimed at both the business and consumer markets.

According to the NPD Group (via HP press release) 34% of consumer desktops sold in July were all-in-one PCs and IDC believes that nearly 16% of commercial PC purchases are likely to be in this form factor by the end of 2012. It’s very understandable in the commodity PC market – few cables, better appearance, what’s not to like?

The new models include the Omni 120 and 220 PCs, coming with 20″ and 21.5″ screens. Both feature HP’s LinkUp, which allows the desktop and HP laptops to interact with each other. Beats Audio, along with quad core Intel processors, is available on certain Omni 220 models.

The TouchSmart range is extended to a range of four models, the HP TouchSmart 320, 420 and 520 joining the existing 610. These new models come with 20″, 21.5″ and 23″ screens respectively and Beats Audio. Of course, all of these models have touch-sensitive screens.

Moving into the business work, HP is announcing its first TouchSmart business model, the HP TouchSmart Elite 7320 All-in-One Business PC. Aimed at small businesses, it’s a 21.5″ full HD screen with second generation i3, i5 and i7 Intel processors.

Finally, the HP Pro 3420 All-in-One rounds out the business portfolio with a non-touch 20″ screen and Core i3 processors. Although aimed at the lower end of the marked, it comes equipped with a built-in webcam for web conferencing. This model complements the already announced HP 8200 Elite All-in-One business PC.

Overall, HP looks to have a great portfolio of all-in-one PCs and I can believe that it’s a market that’s going to grow. Who wants all the clutter of cables, when with a wireless connection network connection, wireless keyboards and wireless mouse, all you need is a power cable?

Legends are Reborn: HP-12C and HP-15C Calculators

Posted by Andrew at 5:40 PM on September 1, 2011

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the HP-12C financial calculator, HP are producing a limited edition of this classic calculator along with a reproduction of the 15C scientific calculator. Launched in 1981, the 12C became the de facto “badge of honour” for any self respecting businessman. Still a cult classic with fans the world over, it’s the longest selling HP product.

There’s some great reminiscing going on over at HP’s The Next Bench, including interviews with 12C’s creator, Dennis, who demoed the calculator to Bill Hewlett thirty years ago.

Pictures from the HP Museum by David Hicks.

Young’uns raised on Casio and Sharp calculators will be surprised that these use Reverse Polish Notation (RPN) for the entry of formulae, rather than the more usual “1 + 1 =” approach. RPN would say this is “1 ENTER 1 +”, if I recall right.

I remember my father having HP calculators – they had little red LED displays before LCDs appeared – and him showing me how RPN worked. And the way the buttons kind of rocked back rather than simply pressing down. Glorious and I want one. I shall have to keep my eyes on the HP’s UK site – the standard 12c is available but I’d be more interested in the 15C which hasn’t been around for years.

It’s good to see that HP can produce something that lasts longer that the TouchPad.

HP Reconsidering Decision to Kill off the TouchPad?

Posted by susabelle at 7:14 PM on August 29, 2011

It’s only been a couple weeks, but is it possible HP is rethinking their decision to kill the TouchPad?

As they say, money talks, and what happened after HP announced the impending death of the TouchPad?  They sold out.  Everywhere.

Obviously part of that was the suddenly deeply-discounted price.  But there’s more to the story.  Many gleeful geeks looked at the potential of the TouchPad to run Android software (after hacking, of course) and what better device to play with than one you only spent a C-note on, right?  Most of us aren’t going to hack or otherwise possibly render useless a $400 or $500 device.  But we might just play around with a hundred dollar device.  Much less risk.

In fact, some hacker groups have offered a reward to whoever can create the best hack to allow an Android system on the TouchPad, giving even more incentive to those holding them.

HP did not fail to notice the sudden sale of all of their remaining devices through retailers and online sources like eBay.  Twitter messages and blogposts from HP spokesperson Mark Budgell are leading many to believe that HP may just offer more of the devices for sale in the near future.  There is also the inference that more TouchPads may be manufactured to take advantage of the suddenly robust market for the device.

Which leads me to an interesting conclusion.  The device itself was the one that had the potential to take a bit out of the iPad market, due to its functionality and features.  Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to sell well.  I want to assume that this is because for the same price, one could buy an iPad.  It’s like the iPod market several years back.  I could buy a Sansa, Sony, or other MP3 player, but if I was going to spend the money, I was going to buy an iPod.  In the tablet market, the same may very well be true.

Suddenly, however, with the devices selling under $200, they become cheap enough, with enough functionality, to appeal to a broader audience.  And if they can be used with the Android operating system and the resultant Android marketplace full of apps…  Well, we’re talking about a whole new ballgame.

Can the low price stand, if HP gets back into the tablet-manufacturing business?  Time will tell.

Crushing Demand for HP TouchPad in UK

Posted by Andrew at 4:37 PM on August 22, 2011

It’s been an insane day and evening here in the UK if you were interested in HP’s TouchPad firesale. Rumours persisted throughout the day as to when various on-line retailers were going to cut the prices and there was disbelief that the prices were going to be as good as the US $100. Word leaked out that it was going to be £89 for the 16 GB and £115 for the 32 GB but no-one was ready to believe it.

The DSG group stores blinked first with Dixons, Currys and PC World all selling out within minutes, but the price had been confirmed as true. Carphone Warehouse then dropped their prices and within minutes were totally crushed under the load and the website went offline. Comet came on next and were slammed but many people managed to get orders in by refreshing the browser. I managed to snag a 32 GB one to upgrade my 16 GB but it took me an hour to get through all the steps. Amazon seemed late to the party with just the 16 GB on offer but also sold out pretty quickly.

No doubt more stores will drop their prices tomorrow and there will be another frenzy. HP.com is still to drop its prices and they should have a pile. The Pre 3 may also come to the firesale as well and I’ll snap one up if I can. But it tells you one thing…people are hungry for tablets but they can’t afford an iPad. For once it’s not all about apps, it’s about cash.

In exiting a market, HP has propelled the TouchPad to the #2 tablet slot. Can they capitalise on this and turn WebOS into a success or have they simply jumped the shark?

Microsoft Poaching webOS Developers

Posted by Alan at 9:00 AM on August 20, 2011

A few days ago we received the sad news that HP was discontinuing webOS devices.  The only good news out of that was for gadget lovers – HP has slashed prices on the recently released TouchPad (it’s already out-of-stock at Walmart online).  The bad news for HP, beyond the bad press and bad stock prices, was that Microsoft leaped on the news and immediately began recruiting webOS developers for their Windows Phone platform.

Microsoft’s Brandon Walsh reached out to webOS developers on Twitter, and began the process of bringing them over to Windows Phone.  He even went so far as to offer free phones and other tools.  At last check, he had received more than 200 replies.

While HP has killed off the hardware-making side of their webOS business, they are hoping to keep the software alive by licensing it to third-party hardware makers, as Google does with Android.  That means HP needs to keep these developers on board.  That will be difficult with no agreements in place yet to ensure the OS’s future.  Still, they are trying their best to maintain ties – see their blog post The Next Chapter for webOS.

Given the current state, it will be hard for HP to hold onto these developers, and given what they have already done, it’s hard to imagine that they wouldn’t pull the plug on the software side of webOS at any moment.  This has been a short ride for HP and webOS, and I can’t help but think that they didn’t give it it’s deserved time and effort.  Consider it a premature death.