2011 – A Year of Many Things: A recap of the big events of the year

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Palm is dead, WebOS lives on

HP webOS. Now in S, M, L.
Palm/YouTube (Uploaded by nsotd4)

2011 was the year when the axe fell on Palm. HP bought it in 2010 and just 16 month later in that deal, it had enough of the money-losing division and decided to cut its losses and leave the market entirely. It dropped the price of the TouchPad to less than $100, which meant more losses, but ironically made the device popular to consumers.

And its understandable. The TouchPad was a tablet competitor to the first-generation iPad, rather than the latest. The phones also didn’t excite people – Android, Windows Phone 7 and Apple’s own iOS were chipping away from webOS. In all honesty, it was the reversal of the Nokia problem – the software was good, the hardware sucked badly.

However, then-CEO’s Leo Apotheker had also used the announcement to highlight a new direction for HP. He decided to announce HP’s intention to leave the consumer market altogether and focus on business – and his seriousness was exacerbated by the fact that he acquired British software company Autonomy for US$10.2 billion. While leaving the market is understandable because of slow growth, it stunned the market and its share price fell. And it continue to fall under his leadership.

Soon, HP’s own board had enough and sacked him. They replaced him with Meg Whitman – the former CEO of eBay – and she soon announced that HP was not leaving the consumer market. However, the fate of webOS was still left in the air – until December.

Whitman announced that webOS will be open sourced. It will continue to invest in the OS, but it won’t build any hardware to support the OS. It has made the OS a ‘lame duck’. However, with it being open sourced, it paves the way for Samsung, HTC and other mobile manufacturers to use the OS as their platform.

- TH

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