HP didn't have the patience for Palm, ex-CEO Apotheker to blame

HP didn't have the patience for Palm, ex-CEO Apotheker to blame
Former HP chief technology officer Phil McKinney is probably the best person in the world to ask about what happened with Palm and how was it that the company HP acquired for $1.2 billion was effectively killed within just over a year. Somehow, this question never surfaced, though, until now. 

McKinney answered it in an interview focusing around his new book “Beyond the Obvious: Killer Questions That Spark Game-Changing Innovation.” The book is not about HP and Palm, but about innovation and innovation takes patience. HP didn’t have this patience after it switched CEOs and Leo Apotheker took over. Here’s the whole story in McKinney’s words:

What we previously thought is that killing Palm and open sourcing webOS is a result of the platform not performing well enough, but this puts the Palm unit at HP in a different perspective. Of course, it’s a fact that webOS didn’t have a brilliant start, but with such a drastic cut in the time allowance from three to one year, it’s easier to see how pressure built up for ex-Palm engineers. It also explains why Meg Whitman took so long to figure out what to do next with the division.

Looking back at the past, what do you think were HP’s webOS chances if engineers had the three years they were promised?

source: webOSnation
Thumbnail image courtesy of Thomas Lohnes/AFP.

Did webOS stand a chance if HP had the patience for it?

Yes, webOS was innovative and the products were fine, it just needed time.
Yes, webOS was cool, but HP needed better/different devices.
No, webOS had a chance earlier with Palm and blew it.



1. PhoneLuver

Posts: 481; Member since: Jul 05, 2010

I really loved WebOS, but just like Meego it was killed before it had a real opportunity to become anything. I'm sure it will be a decision that HP will regret in the long term..

12. JeffdaBeat unregistered

Could not have said it better. Folks are going to be moving further and further away from your standard desktop. Hell, even notebooks are starting to lose out to tablets and smartphones. And here, HP had their first and second step into the mobile world already laid out for them. WebOS on the other hand finally had the cash it needed to really compete against iOS and Android. HP is going to see more and more people step away from their computers and they are either going to have to bring WebOS back to life or kiss Google's ring. The sad thing is they had the chance to be a mobile powerhouse themselves.

19. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

If this info is true, then it was most definitly a bad move. They could have really refined the OS and added features to keep it on parity with android/iOS. They also could have taken the RIM route and made it android app compatible which would have given it a real boost in functionality. They didnt have a "wow" device, and they were over pricing themselves in the market. You cant fetch apple prices without apple demand. They should have taken the WP7 stance and underpriced themselves to get more business. All of that could have been fixed with proper time and development. in the tablet space, i still think WP8 is going to dominate if they do the desktop compatibility right. If I were HP id launch both WP8 and ICS tablets with high specs and a lower price to get my name back in people's faces.

2. shy2papa

Posts: 336; Member since: Jan 23, 2010

Web OS has the looks of Apple's IOS and gutts of Google's android, it had the best of both worlds and if HP would have been waitied a while and developed it would have been among one of the best OS around.

3. ayephoner

Posts: 858; Member since: Jun 09, 2009

i think by the time hp took over it was just too late. they were still trying to break into an established market and had very little dev support. if only palm had done more when the pre launched to push the product. that phone was amazing, but no one knew about it or wanted to go to sprint to get it.

5. artman5x5

Posts: 10; Member since: Feb 23, 2012

Look at Windows it came back all new and is making an impact with mobile phone, who is to say WebOs would not have done the same. It takes time, WebOs was a good OS and with time it would have been one to look out for.

15. ayephoner

Posts: 858; Member since: Jun 09, 2009

windows has quite a bit more brand recognition than palm. and microsoft has quite a bit more funding to put toward front end advertisement.


Posts: 1461; Member since: Mar 09, 2010

Palm had a great device with the Pre, but it had a fatal flaw. The design was all wrong, and the screen was too damn small. Had Palm designed a better handset that opened in landscape rather than portrait view, and been 4" it would have survived. The old legacy Palm look got killed by the droid look and design. That being a larger screen with a landscape slider to open and type messages.

16. ayephoner

Posts: 858; Member since: Jun 09, 2009

it certainly wasnt the trending style at the time. i think they were trying to get familiarity with the blackberry crowd. whats amazing is that they stuck with it for the ppp, the p2, the p3 and the pixi was even worse. though it wasnt popular, i had a ppp for about a year and absolutely loved it. that phone was ahead of its time.

4. hritikbhimani

Posts: 29; Member since: Jan 08, 2012

First webOS then Meego...n future bada will b killed too :( its like all good n promising OS's nevr get wat they desrve Even symbian...still the best non touch OS will die soon thnx to nokia >:(

6. tluv00

Posts: 134; Member since: Oct 18, 2007

HP was lazy and lacks the balls to try and do anything with the Palm brand or with WebOS. Their assumption was that if they used HP hardware with WebOS it would come flying off the shelves. The problem is that HP never had a real player in the tablet/smartphone arena and when they attempted too they went with a plane, standard hardware design that really did not do anything to distinguish themselves from the competition. HP screwed this one up badly. At least they have patents from this right?

8. lubba

Posts: 1313; Member since: Jan 17, 2011

Lets move forward people!

9. 7thspaceman

Posts: 1597; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

I hope Microsoft hangs in there with the Window 7 series and more Advanced Windows phone 8 that is coming out later this year because what a buying consumer wants is for the smart phone or tablet computer they purchase to continue to supported with software updates at least. Microsoft for instance will have 2 types of smart phones to sell to People which are the Windows 7 series smartphones today and the Newer high end Windows Phone 8's that will be out later this year. both types can run the same Apps if the App is programmed right. what People will want to know is will Microsoft stay committed to the Windows 7 series current smart phones. I think they will because the Windows 7 series Tango smart phones can be sold to People in developing countries at a cheap enough price for them to buy. The. Windows 8 smart phones appear to be all about high end more expensive smart phones.

10. snowgator

Posts: 3624; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

Anyone who used WeBOS enjoyed it. I loved my Pre Plus, even though it was small and a little underpowered, even for it's day. I would have most likely stuck with HP, even though developers were not flocking to WeBOS and it was in need of long term commitments. While it is interesting to hear it confirmed, it was always obvious that HP panicked and pulled the plug way to soon for a billion dollar investment. What a waste.

11. Biff15

Posts: 2; Member since: Mar 14, 2012

palm and hp both suck. who really cares,, they are a sub par brand in a world of premium... nuff said.

17. webOSlove unregistered

you should really shut your mouth because I doubt you have used a webOS device. Go to a site likewww.webosnation.com & type that on one of the stories on there. I doubt your little iPhone , Android , BlackBerry , or whatever OS you own could handle the things webOS could. IMO webOS was & still is extrmemly innovative & it deserves a chance at full filling what it was always meant to be: the iPhone killer. So shut your mouth slob

13. Chronos

Posts: 258; Member since: Feb 25, 2012

"Yes, webOS was cool, but HP needed better/different devices."

14. GeckoHA559

Posts: 47; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

Just like they killed Compaq as well.

18. ajdaone

Posts: 2; Member since: Mar 15, 2012

This is my sincerest suggestion to HP; they should adopt android as their main os but keep their awesome webos interface and multitasking as a overlay of android customization (just like htc does sense and samsung does touchwiz). That way they will have all the apps from the android market plus their phone/tablet will offer something no other android offers i.e the webos interface and multitasking. What do you think?

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