The Tech News Blog

August 31, 2012

HP’s Open WebOS Releases in Beta Mode

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Almost nine months after Hewlett-Packard announced its plan to contribute its webOS platform to the open-source community, the company on Friday set off the streamers to celebrate its beta release.

"It has taken a lot of hard work, long hours and weekend sacrifices by our engineering team to deliver on our promise and we have accomplished this goal," the company said in a blog post.

The beta release of the mobile OS offers 54 open-source webOS components–or 450,000 lines of code under the Apache 2.0 license –in two build environments: A desktop build and the OpenEmbedded build. Now developers, partners, HP engineers, and other hardware manufacturers can add their own spin on the mobile OS.

The desktop build, according to HP, "provides the ideal development environment for enhancing the webOS user experience with new features and integrating state of the art open source technologies." With the new open-source option, developers can now use all of their desktop tools on powerful development machines, the company said.

The OpenEmbedded build offers a better climate for porting webOS to new and existing devices, HP said.

August 16, 2012

HP Spinning Off WebOS as ‘Gram’

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WebOS just can't let go. More than six months after HP decided to open source the mobile OS, webOS Nation has discovered that the webOS Global Business Unit (GBU) will be reborn as a new company known as Gram.

WebOS Nation posted a memo from HP chief of staff Martin Risau in which is Gram is described as "a new brand."

"We are no longer a consumer hardware brand, we are a different company with focus on software, User Experience, Cloud, engineering and partnering," Risau wrote.

Risau unveiled Gram at a team-wide meeting last week, WebOS Nation said. "Potent. Light. Nimble," reads the Gram logo. "At the core of all things big and small."

"Gram is a new company leveraging the core strengths of webOS, Enyo, and our Cloud offerings, as well as the firepower of our partners to create a technology that will unleash the freedom of the Web," according to a company description.

Risau apparently wanted to keep things under wraps. In the memo to staff, he said Gram is currently in "stealth mode" and urged employees to be coy when asked about the venture.

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February 29, 2012

HP’s WebOS Purge Continues with Sacking of 275 Staffers

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Hewlett-Packard's whittling down of its webOS portfolio continued Tuesday with the firing of 275 of the remaining 600 employees working in the business unit acquired with its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm in April 2010.

HP let go more than 500 webOS employees last September in the aftermath of its decision to shut down its TouchPad tablet and future webOS-based consumer hardware products. Former Palm chief executive Jon Rubenstein, who been serving as senior vice president of HP's PC business since the acquisition, left the company in late January.

"As webOS continues the transition from making mobile devices to open-source software, it no longer needs many of the engineering and other related positions that it required before," an HP spokesperson said in a statement published by CRN. "This creates a smaller and more nimble team that is well equipped to deliver an open-source webOS and sustain HP's commitment to the software over the long term."

HP was "working to redeploy" employees remaining in the webOS business unit to "other roles at the company," CRN reported.

In December, new chief executive Meg Whitman announced that HP would open-source webOS and released a timeline last month for how the company would transition the Linux-based mobile operating system from its own proprietorship through a beta release and finally to full stewardship by the open-source community in September, when Open webOS 1.0 is scheduled to be released.

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January 25, 2012

HP Reveals WebOS Open-Source Timeline

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Hewlett-Packard on Wednesday unveiled a timetable for the outsourcing of webOS, which it hopes to complete by September.

HP also released version 2.0 of Enyo, the application framework for webOS.

WebOS code will be made available under the Apache License, Version 2.0, starting with the Enyo source code, which was released today. More details are available on the webOS developer blog.

"HP is bringing the innovation of the webOS platform to the open source community," Bill Veghte, executive vice president and chief strategy officer at HP, said in a statement. "This is a decisive step toward meeting our goal of accelerating the platform's development and ensuring that its benefits will be delivered to the entire ecosystem of web applications."

HP posted a chart (below) of expected milestones over the next few months, which will culminate with the expected September release of Open webOS 1.0.

After months of speculation, HP announced in December that it would open-source webOS instead of selling the platform to the highest bidder. The company said it will "continue to be active in the development and support of webOS," but handing it over to the open-source community will help improve applications and Web services for next-generation devices.

The fate of the well-received but beleaguered mobile operating system has been up in the air since August, when HP announced plans to ditch support for webOS-based devices like the HP TouchPad tablet, as well as its PC business.

December 10, 2011

Report: HP Plans 2013 WebOS Tablet While Killing TouchPad

Hewlett-Packard chief executive Meg Whitman said Friday that the company plans to manufacture a WebOS tablet in 2013, even as the company winds down the WebOS-based TouchPad tablet.

In what is the latest bizarre turn for HP's WebOS and related tablet business, TechCrunch reported that Whitman and board member Marc Andreessen told the site that the company would manufacture a WebOS tablet perhaps in 2012, and definitely in 2013.

An HP spokesman, asked to conform the report, said that a WebOS tablet would be made only if the market was "viable". He said that he preferred to focus on the decision to release WebOS as open source, which will give it an immortality that it otherwise might not have.

However, the schizophrenia on HP's WebOS operating system and tablet hardware continues, as HP reportedly plans one last fire sale for the tablet on Sunday, in what has become a long and winding road. Months after the TouchPad was launched in March using HP's WebOS operating system, HP decided to kill it in August, as part of a decision to kill the WebOS hardware business after sales failed to meet expectations. But after HP discounted the TouchPad to $99, sales bagan to take off, even prompting HP to make another batch.

Whitman and Andreessen also told TechCrunch that HP plans a tablet based on Windows 8 for 2012.

December 9, 2011

HP Decides to Open Source WebOS

After much discussion, Hewlett-Packard on Friday announced that it will not sell its webOS unit but instead contribute the platform to the open-source community.

The company said it will "continue to be active in the development and support of webOS," but handing it over to the open-source community will help improve applications and Web services for next-generation devices.

"WebOS is the only platform designed from the ground up to be mobile, cloud-connected and scalable," Meg Whitman, HP president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "By contributing this innovation, HP unleashes the creativity of the open source community to advance a new generation of applications and devices."

HP said the underlying code of webOS will be made available under an open source license, allowing developers, partners, HP engineers, and other hardware manufacturers to add their spin to the OS.

October 29, 2011

Best Buy Offers PC Plus HP TouchPad Bundle

The saga of the HP TouchPad continued on Friday, with Best Buy announcing an upcoming bundle that will let customers snag a 32GB HP TouchPad for $149.99 with the purchase of a new PC.

The deal kicks off Tuesday, November 1 for online purchases and will be available in stores starting November 4.

Anyone who buys a Compaq laptop, desktop, or all-in-one computer will also be provided with the option to purchase the 32GB TouchPad for $150. The 16GB model is sold out and will not be available. The offer excludes netbooks, as well as computers sold via the Marketplace, or those that are refurbished, in an open box, or from a Best Buy outlet center.

Best Buy said the deal is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Approximately one hour before your local Best Buy store opens, employees will hand out tickets for the HP TouchPad. One hour after opening, any unclaimed, ticketed TouchPads will be released to those in line without a ticket.

August 30, 2011

HP Producing One Last Batch of TouchPads to Meet Demand

Good news for those who have been trying to get their hands on an HP TouchPad: the company said today that it will produce one last run of TouchPads to meet demand.

HP said it will manufacture a "limited quantity of TouchPads with webOS" during the fourth quarter, which ends on October 31, but it will be several weeks before they are available.

"Despite announcing an end to manufacturing webOS hardware, we have decided to produce one last run of TouchPads to meet unfulfilled demand," HP spokesman Mark Budgell said in a blog post.

Budgell did not know how many TouchPads will be produced, but it the supply will not be unlimited. "We can’t promise we’ll have enough for everyone," he wrote. "We do know that it will be at least a few weeks before you can purchase."

Only HP Home & Home Office will get the new TouchPads; HP’s Small and Medium Business team is "sold out of HP TouchPads and will not have more inventory," Budgell said.

August 20, 2011

HP TouchPads Selling Out: How to Get Your Discounted Tablet!

Almost as soon as it began, HP's fire sale of discontinued TouchPad tablets has screeched to a grinding halt. The official HP online store is completely sold out of both 16GB and 32GB variants, discounted to $99.99 and $149.99 from a whopping $499 and $599 respectively. However, craftier purchasers can still pick up a tablet (as of this article's writing) by surfing over to HP's Small & Medium Business site and ordering from there.

A number of larger U.S. retailers' online stores are similarly sold out of the TouchPads, which HP decided to discontinue in an eye-opening decision announced this past Thursday. Early reports indicate that online stores for brick-and-mortar retail like Target, Walmart, Microcenter, and Fry's are completely sold out of TouchPad stock. Interested purchasers might find luck in physically going to said locations, but it might be best to call ahead at this point.

August 19, 2011

HP Kills TouchPad, Support for webOS Devices

Hours after news broke that Hewlett-Packard was considering a spin-off of its PC business, the company also said that it will discontinue support for webOS devices, including the TouchPad tablet.

The move also affects webOS-based smartphones, though the company said "HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward."

HP announced the TouchPad, as well as the Veer and Pre 3 smartphones, in February. The tablet came out earlier this year, but has struggled in the market. News broke this week that Best Buy was sitting on a huge stock of TouchPads that it could not sell; HP also discounted the tablet by $100.