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Oh What A Tangled WebOS We Weave

HP is exiting consumer computing.

HP has been known for a lot of missteps. It started when they bought Compaq, hoping to combine their marketshares. It didn't work. The Classmate debacle to kill One Laptop Per Child. Then there was the hacking reporters critical of the company, or which the feds gave them a slap on the wrist. HP used to be one of the best technology companies, and they have squandered their rep and goodwill.

It didn't help that they wanted to push Linux, but were too fucking chicken. They came up with a Linux laptop, but you could only order it online and cost $200 more than the equivalent Windoze machine, plus you had to dig through the website to find it (this is why I prefer System 76. They make it so even the state of the art stupid can find what they need/want). Then, they tried a Linux push, but the machines were only available in Germany. For a company desperate to lose the chains M$ put them in, they didn't try very hard.

In 2009, Palm Computing saw they were in major trouble. Sales of the Palm were not only starting to stagnate, but the iPhone was making people leave their gadgets behind. Why carry a phone and a PDA when you had one machine that did both? Palm came up with WebOS, a proprietary operating system running on top of the Linux kernel. They started hawking that as their Next Big Thing. HP wanted in on the booming mobile market and bought Palm.

In February, HP held a press conference to hype the mobile offerings with WebOS. They were really pushing with new phones and tablets. As a Linux nut, this intrigued me. I started seeing WebOS tablets a few weeks ago in Best Buy.

On Thursday, HP announced they had enough. Consumer PC sales were falling (they were falling originally to netbooks, cheap machines for on the go use. Manufacturers started making netbooks with full size specs to drive the price up. Then Apple launched the iPad, and people went with that. Not only a truly mobile device, but in order to make them work for any amount of time, they had to use low power CPU's that Windoze couldn't run on. So not only are PC sales slowing even more than with netbooks, but M$ can't even try to join the party). The WebOS tablets aren't moving fast enough. The phones aren't selling. So HP is going the IBM route, focusing on corporate customers and servers. Unlike IBM, though, it doesn't look like they have anyone taking over their consumer computer stuff. The announcement was on Thursday. On Saturday, I went to Best Buy to see if there were any deals on HP TouchPads. They were all gone already.

Sorry, but I have no sympathy for HP. IBM made good stuff and worked to be an ethical company. You can make millions of dollars, make money for your shareholders, be a Fortune 500 company, and still be ethical, you know. You don't have to turn dark just to be a success. HP lost sight of that lesson. They had so many opportunities to do right, but just wouldn't do it.

Bye bye HP. You could have survived if you hadn't let yourselves be the pet of a convicted monopolist.

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