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Farewell to the TouchPad and Pre (and webOS)

August 23, 2011

So while I was off on vacation last week HP decided to pull the plug on webOS hardware and is looking to spin off the PC division. And frankly I suspect in practice this is farewell to webOS as well; it’s hard to see how it gets any traction without a focused hardware provider behind it (heck, it had a enough trouble getting traction with HP behind it). And while I suspect Samsung and HTC are rather pissed off at Google acquiring Motorola Mobility, I don’t see them running to webOS to hedge their bets (although I could see Windows Phone getting an uptick.

I have to confess that I’m sad to see the TouchPad and Pre (and webOS) go. I actually like the design of the webOS UX; I think Palm’s designers did some excellent work, and I frankly think the UX for webOS is better than that for Android in many ways. I’m not, of course, sad enough to rush out and buy a $99 TouchPad, although I will confess that I came close. But $99 is a bit much for something I’d run once awhile for the nostalgic rush; if I want that I can just run the emulator for a few minutes. I therefore don’t really get the insane demand for the reduced TouchPads; while the initial demand might have been from those folks who also regarded webOS with fondness, there’s been such demand that now it feels a bit like tulip mania. I can’t help but wonder if in a few weeks we’ll see a glut of TouchPads on ebay priced well below $99. Time will tell.

Of course, while I’m sad about the fate of webOS, I’m amused that HP is spinning off the PC division and looking to move more strongly into services. That strategy seems vaguely familiar. Oh yes, that’s right: it’s what IBM decided to do way back at the end of 2004. Kudos to Sam and Co. for seeing that trend well in advance and acting on it.

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