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HP Businesses The Almighty Buck

HP Wanted $1.2B For WebOS and Palm 139

Posted by Soulskill
from the is-that-in-monopoly-money dept.
PolygamousRanchKid passes along this quote: "As baffling as it may seem, HP was trying to rid itself of Palm without taking a loss on its purchase, a source with knowledge of the negotiations told [VentureBeat]. The company seemingly ignored that Palm's value had fallen significantly since HP purchased the smartphone pioneer in April 2010, thanks to the spectacular failure of the HP Touchpad tablet. And the fact that HP didn't make any progress with its new webOS phones, the Pre 3 and Veer, didn't help either. ... The $1.2 billion asking price shines some light on a story we heard from another source: At one point, HP's team tried to pitch the sale to Facebook but was practically laughed out of the room. And yes, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was present at the meeting, although he apparently didn't say much (I'm sure whatever he was thinking at the time would have been gold)."
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HP Wanted $1.2B For WebOS and Palm

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  • Ouch (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lennier1 (264730) on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:02PM (#38542286)

    1.2 billion for a property which they've mostly continued to run into the ground, apart from the patent portfolio?

    • Re:Ouch (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gl4ss (559668) on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:29PM (#38542542) Homepage Journal

      you'd have to remember that it was worth 1.2billion _ONLY_ because hp bought them! no-one else would have paid so much money for webos ip.

      because, uh. you could just like, take meego base for free. and even that ain't worth 1.2 billion and webos is less parts than that.

      • by gorzek (647352)

        Yeah, webOS is a nice platform, but they probably could've developed their own mobile OS for less than a billion dollars. And I can't imagine the patent portfolio is worth enough to ever pay back what HP spent on the acquisition.

        • by Luckyo (1726890)

          The issue is time. Development from scratch requires a lot of it.

          • and customers who ahve already bought in, a eco-system, outside developers that are already fluent, programs already designed for the system, etc.

            • That was never really an argument for going with WebOS, though. WebOS has almost nothing in the way of apps if you don't count the homebrew community, and only slightly more than that if you do. (No offense to homebrew developers. They make good stuff. It's just, there's not nearly enough developers doing it.)
          • Re:Ouch (Score:5, Insightful)

            by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Friday December 30, 2011 @11:33PM (#38545456) Journal

            That would be true IF there weren't several already rock solid bases to build off of, but that isn't the case. you have Android, MeeGo, and several Linux embedded versions you could easily build off of and roll your own for a hell of a lot less than a billion because most of the hard work is already done and you could concentrate on customizing it to your platform and needs. That is why when ms Noyes at LinuxInsider asked me what i thought the next big OS would be I said there answe was simple, there won't be any. Those that want to stay proprietary will stick with MSFT and Apple and once they sign the NDAs will be able to customize to their needs and those that want the community to help or want more control will simply go Linux or BSD based.

            There really isn't a point in reinventing the wheel anymore like there was in the old days when OS/2 and NeXT and WinNT were born because the old models had fundamental flaws, frankly all the real nasty problems have been pretty much solved and any of the above could be a solid base for a product easily. Why do you think Google used the Linux kernel instead of writing one from scratch? its not like they couldn't afford to, it was just kinda pointless when there was already one there that did what they needed with a Linux they could live with. they could have just as easily signed an NDA and had the entire WinMo source code if that would have been their wish but by going with a FOSS kernel they could see what the community cooks up and roll the best ideas into their own product easily.

            So I doubt we'll suddenly see some completely new OS pop up on the scene and I was stunned when they announced how much HP was gonna pay for Palm. I had to double check to make sure it wasn't the first of April because i thought surely nobody would be THAT stupid, but I guess it just shows that the old HP is long gone and if the current HP board had a sensible thought between them their heads would probably explode. Personally i bet even being opened up as FOSS won't save WebOS as there is already too many familiar with Android and the ecosystem for it is too highly developed. As MSFT is learning its the apps stupid and having a truly great mobile OS don't mean dick if all the apps folks want isn't already there and waiting.

          • Yes and no. WebOS is nice, but it's a Linux kernel, a GNU userland, a port of WebKit, and a (quite nice) JavaScript toolkit. Writing all of this from scratch would take a long time, but taking an existing Linux or BSD kernel, a GNU or BSD userland is easy. The port of WebKit and SDL is only about a month's worth of work for someone who knows what they're doing. There are some existing JavaScript toolkits that are pretty nice - maybe take the (BSD licensed) Yahoo one. Then there are the apps, but most

      • by Targon (17348)

        WebOS had a lot of potential, and if HP had made the Pre 3 the priority and released it in March of 2011, it would probably have done quite well(with marketing support). WebOS still has a lot of potential as an OS, but HP has grossly mismanaged it and placed the priorities in the wrong places.

        Basic concept, the Veer was NEVER going to be a wildly successful device, it was a niche device with its small size. The Pre 3 would have been your mainsteam/flagship, and tablet sales are very much linked to how

        • by Nos9 (442559)

          I ditched my Pre after the HP fiasco with WebOS and bought a new Android phone. Look I can actually use Flash on it (one of the selling points on my Palm Pre was that a Flash player would be out in a few months when I bought the Pre shortly after launch). And people develop stuff for it.

          • Not sure about the Pre, but Flash runs nicely on the TouchPad and was installed out of the box. It works well enough to play flash games (if you can find some that are not clunky with a touchscreen) and to watch streaming videos from iPlayer. The video appears to use accelerators in SoC rather than the ARM core, since watching an hour of video only uses a little over 10% of the battery. It does produce a higher CPU load than watching things in the movie player though, probably for the same reason as on t
        • WebOS had a lot of potential, and if HP had made the Pre 3 the priority and released it in March of 2011, it would probably have done quite well(with marketing support).

          By March 2011 it was all over already. WebOS itself was great, but the hardware already had a tainted reputation, and the commercials Palm had put out had already alienated customers.

          In my opinion, if Palm had released the Pre 3 hardware as the Pre 2, that may have stopped the slide, but only if they had much better commercials and had kept some faith with developers. (Did developers even ever get all the APIs for the hardware?) Palm was a PDA company, for Christ's sake. They should've been able to put

  • Think... (Score:5, Funny)

    by PortHaven (242123) on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:05PM (#38542316) Homepage

    In a few years, Facebook might buy HP for $1.2 billion.

    • I'm sure they wait until the value falls to a reasonable level =)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In a few years, Facebook might buy HP for $1.2 billion.

      in a few years the facebook fad will be over

      • by Raenex (947668)

        in a few years the facebook fad will be over

        Or it may not be. You could have made this statement a few years ago and you would have been wrong.

    • If anyone is going to purchase anything, it's google.

      Google plus now integrated with newly acquired googlebook!

      • Google already have, what, two operating systems, if you count Chrome? WebOS is just a skin on linux, like android so I fail to see the advantage for them is doing that, unless WebOS starts to compete with android and they want to shut it down.

        • by the linux geek (799780) on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:59PM (#38542794)
          Neither webOS or Android is just "a skin" on Linux. Android uses a Linux kernel, but the rest of the stack is almost entirely custom and completely unrelated to anything most people would recognize as "Linux." webOS is closer, but still involves extensive custom engineering, especially for the graphics/video components.
          • WebOS is very much GNU/Linux. It doesn't run X (well, unless you install it), but you can take code written for any other *NIX OS and recompile it pretty easily. It took me about half a day to get the GNUstep Foundation framework running on my Touchpad, and most of that was fudging the configure script to support cross-compilation. It comes with SDL, so a lot of games that use Linux + SDL rather than using X directly will also work.
        • by Tyr07 (2300912)

          I ment if anything google will buy facebook and therefore by proxy only such a purchase would be by the new googlebook should facebook look at purchasing HP.,

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Buying something and only then wondering what they could do with their purchase.
    It has happend before. It will happen again.
    Move along there, nothing to report.

    Except, I'd really have liked to be a fly on the wall at the meeting with Facbook.
    HP showing its usual ineptitude.

    Disclaimer,
    I worked at HP for 28years until they laid me off last year. Now I earn twice as much looking after the same customers & systems that I did before. Go figure.

    • From the same company that rejected Wozniak's Apple I, they appear to try to make Xerox feel better about that PARC thing.

      • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Friday December 30, 2011 @10:45PM (#38545198)

        (Shrug) That was the correct decision on HP's part. No analogies between Woz's garage and Xerox PARC can be drawn, IMHO. An inexpensive 6502-based micro board didn't fit into HP's marketing and sales strategies in any respect. No traditional HP customers would have been interested in early personal computers, and no rock-star product managers were itching to pivot the whole company in that direction, as later happened with printers.

        Instead of helping to launch a new industry, the Apple I would've died on the vine at HP. They could have been dicks about it and stopped Wozniak dead in his tracks, but instead they told him to party on with their blessing. Under the HP Way it was considered a good thing for entrepreneurs to get their start at the company, and Woz was perhaps one of the last employees to benefit from that kind of forward thinking.

  • by gcnaddict (841664) on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:11PM (#38542368)
    They wanted to show that they tried every option, but they didn't actually want to sell Palm.

    Why sell it and have someone else potentially give it a heartbeat again? They put it down and kept its assets in the event that they could use the narrowed field to their advantage in deep-diving back into the mobile market in the future.
    • by gorzek (647352)

      I am a Palm fan from way back, but really, what is the company even worth now? They don't own the original OS (that was spun off into another company years ago), they don't manufacture devices anymore, and while webOS is pretty nice, it's not different enough to set itself apart from Android and iOS. And didn't HP basically can all the old Palm employees, anyway?

      Sad to see a once great company trashed this way, but I'm not sure there's much to recover from it at this point.

    • by rgbrenner (317308) on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:47PM (#38542676)

      What?!! Are you saying they weren't serious when they offered it to Facebook? That's ridiculous. They have perfect synergy: Palm makes phones and Facebook has a mobile app and uses mobile phones. See? They fit together perfectly.

    • by dgatwood (11270)

      They wanted to show that they tried every option, but they didn't actually want to sell Palm.

      It's not that. I'd imagine that all of HP's touchscreen-based printers run WebOS under the hood. If so, then HP is so dependent on WebOS that they can't afford to sell it without requiring the buyer to license it back to HP. This makes any sale problematic from both ends of the deal.

      • They wanted to show that they tried every option, but they didn't actually want to sell Palm.

        It's not that. I'd imagine that all of HP's touchscreen-based printers run WebOS under the hood. If so, then HP is so dependent on WebOS that they can't afford to sell it without requiring the buyer to license it back to HP. This makes any sale problematic from both ends of the deal.

        Where did you get that? They've had touchscreen printers way before they bought WebOS. From my limited exposure to them, it appears they run under CP/M..

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          I got that from the stories about the sale that said that printer licensing was one of the conditions.

          I very much doubt the current crop of web-enabled printers run anything remotely resembling CP/M. They have built-in Wi-Fi hardware, Ethernet, and full-color, full-motion playback of help videos. That's way, way, way past anything you could do easily in many RTOSes, much less something as primitive as CP/M.

          If they aren't running WebOS, it is inevitable to assume that they will. They'd have to be idiots t

  • by Kenja (541830) on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:13PM (#38542392)
    but when I dream, I get a pony.
  • Use the stash of Palm's patents against the obvious patent trolls. HP should then embrace Android.

    Look at this "iPhone like" color Palm [palminfocenter.com] from 2001.
    • ...how much patents are were left anyhow? why does everyone assume all the companies have patents - or that they have them left without licensing.
      palm os was owned by palmsource, one version sold to garnett.. the only ip palm was sitting on was pretty much webos - I guess they thought they were smart fooling garnet to buying palm os from palmsource and then ditching it.

      webos was then developed inhouse at palm(not palmsource).

      that's how I gather it anyhow. so who owns the ip, the little there was to begin wi

      • by ryanov (193048)

        It's not an assumption -- I've seen it written very specifically about Palm a number of times (but couldn't tell you from memory).

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          I've seen it written about palm very specifically too. that's why I wrote that. the palm that hp bought was _just_ webos, that is my understanding, it is my understanding that palmsource ip(what was left of it) wasn't enrolled back to webos palm.

          Almost all the time in articles which forget how palms ip was split over the years many times - and not once I've seen a license deal or lawsuit news(that I can remember) about them.

          • by ryanov (193048)

            OK, yes, that I don't know. I know Palm had lots of patents, but I don't know their disposition when HP bought them.

  • by ryanov (193048)

    The summary sucks (big Palm fan here, BTW). The Pre3 was never even released. It probably could have done alright. In any case, something that's never released cannot be a failure. I'd personally love to get my hands on a Verizon model (but not enough to pay $500).

  • Given that there have been no takers, perhaps HP should post this little nugget on eBay and see what offers come in. As long as they set the reserve at whatever tax loss value may still reside with keeping WebOS et al., any higher bid should be considered a gain.
    • by mythar (1085839)
      no, that's not the HP way. i expect they'll be unloaded by HP for $99, then flipped on ebay for a fat profit.
  • since Platt. Thanks, Carly. Thanks, Mark. Thanks, Cathie. Thanks, Directors. And to think I actually kidded myself into thinking I could retire on my options. WebOS? Thanks, Léo. Thanks, Brian Humphries. See you at the unemployment office.
  • Lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lightknight (213164) on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:45PM (#38542654) Homepage

    They considered selling off their hardware business (accounting for 33% of their revenue), and now they don't want to take a loss selling a company that they bought and ran into the ground.

    Who, exactly, is running this company, and why?

    • They considered selling off their hardware business (accounting for 33% of their revenue), and now they don't want to take a loss selling a company that they bought and ran into the ground.

      Who, exactly, is running this company, and why?

      Palm wasn't exactly doing very well before HP bought them; so they didn't exactly run it into the ground.
      Now, I'm not saying that the lack sales, etc. of any products they have produced through the Palm unit has not hurt the price at all - it probably has.
      Just saying, it's not entirely HP's fault. They probably overbid on it to start with.

      So from their perspective, the unit has not gained anything but hasn't really lost much of anything either; an trying to get the same price is taking a big of a hit -

    • These decisions were made by different CEOs. The last HP CEO wanted to turn HP into another SAP (his previous employer) and turn HP into a totally different company and sell its hardware division. He also decided to spread fud about webOS not being supported which made consumers not want to buy them as he wanted to leave the tablet market. The other CEO Hurd bought it.The board fired him within a week which was the right thing to do.

      You can't just become something else unrelated as it has failed many many t

      • HP's problem is worse than just having a bad CEO. They have a screwed up board of directors which means they are in the process of hiring a stream of bad CEOs, or if they should happen to get a decent one, firing him for a minor transgression when they should be working to keep him.

        There is no way that I would purchase anything significant from, work for, or invest in HP at this point in time.

        It would be good however to short their stock.

        • HP's problem is worse than just having a bad CEO. They have a screwed up board of directors which means they are in the process of hiring a stream of bad CEOs, or if they should happen to get a decent one, firing him for a minor transgression when they should be working to keep him.

          Agreed, maybe someone should keep an eye on the them [wikipedia.org]?

          There is no way that I would purchase anything significant from, work for, or invest in HP at this point in time.

          This is the damn truth. I pity HP's employees as well because they undoubtedly have a morale problem.

        • Leaving its core strength's and biggest revenue generator is not a minor transgression. That would have been the worst business deciscion in history right up with IBM letting MS market DOS to competitors and creating the clone market.

          It is funny because CEOs keep justifying outsourcing and doing things to harm employees as a fudiciary duty to the shareholders and how they need the board of directors needs, yet no one can fire the ones at HP. Believe me many hedge fund managers have tried but do not have the

        • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

          The current board is different from the one that hired and went along with Leo. In case you are concerned about the board but haven't bothered to pay attention to its changes. It helps to keep track of these things if you care.

          Not saying it's any better, you'll have to decide for yourself. Just update your database first, please.

  • Nothing new under the sun. "living on the moon" execs are enjoying the new yatch, while workers are trying to keep up with mortgages and food. It happens in every institution, starting from Govt, public and private companies.... BTW, the Ark B is ready to go...
    • It goes like this.. CEO of HP plays golf with CEO of Palm. Palm: my company is such a mess, we are going nowhere...HP: hey, I've got some 20Gs sitting here and... I will buy your company for those 20G if you pass me 10%, ok? Palm: deal!
      • Actually Palm is not that bad. Blackberry gave it a black eye, but tablets is where WebOS could have made a difference. WebOS was a great OS in 2009 and HP didn't want to let Apple and Google eat up the market leaving HP out of computing.

        When Hurd left, the new CEO viewed it as a failure and never invested heavily into the product. He then went on and told customers, BestBuy, and suppliers he has no plans to sell it. Gee, that really makes me want to go out and buy one now. lol

        So BestBuy got nervous and pul

  • I had a friend like that... bought a bike for eighteen grand, rode it for eight years, when he went to sell it, he insisted the price was eighteen grand. Didn't get any takers.

  • What? Smartphone pioneer? How do they figure that?

    They were a PDA pioneer, but did very little, if anything revolutionary or pioneering in the Smartphone space. They just did what everyone else was doing... they did not pioneer anything in that space. They were already pretty much washed up and a has-been by the time the smartphone revolution rolled around. Not saying their phones weren't nice or quality or anything, just saying they weren't anything revolutionary.

    • by afabbro (33948)

      They were already pretty much washed up and a has-been by the time the smartphone revolution rolled around. Not saying their phones weren't nice or quality or anything, just saying they weren't anything revolutionary.

      Exactly right. Palm in the 1990s was pioneering, but they stumbled once smartphones came along. Not sure why, really - I mean, everyone could see that manufacturers would put more and more stuff on phones and eventually everything a Palm Pilot could do, a phone would one day be able to do. But Palm was a one trick pony that didn't adapt (or at least, didn't adapt fast enough).

    • by gozar (39392)

      What? Smartphone pioneer? How do they figure that?

      I'm pretty sure the Palm Treo 650 was the first smartphone bought by a ton of people (released in 2004, the 600 was released the year before). Touchscreen interface, tons of apps. It was the first smartphone for the masses.

  • smartphone pioneers? That's not how I remember Palm, they were the people that made PDAs cheap and popular.

  • Nokia still needs a modern OS which can support multi-core chips and over 512MB of RAM. Microsoft isn't able to provide that until well into 2012 so Nokia might want a capable modern OS before the end of their world in late 2012. That's when nobody knows who Nokia is anymore.

    LoB
    • Windows phone 7 mango can and is a decent OS. Windows 8 and Windows 8 phone will be there by the time they make a webOS product.

      • by dbIII (701233)
        How does it stack up to what the software on the N900 could do a couple of years ago? If Nokia can't use it to make a better Nokia phone then it's not a step forward. I haven't seen mango but I suspect something that only just got multitasking and was dragged screaming into the 1990s is not going to stack up very well against anything else. So, you are in a better position to answer that question - what features can it offer that exceed what Nokia already had? Remember that MS Exchange synchronisation w
      • by Locutus (9039)
        I see, Nokia should wait for Windows Phone 8 and then the hardware available today can be used in a Windows phone. Put your hardware engineers in stasis chambers Nokia, it's going to be a long 2012 and longer 2013. I read somewhere that Nokia was already in a tough spot because Windows Phone 7 was not capable of using hardware available today and their marketing has to be tweeked to downplay the hardware. That's gotta really bite when you're known for great hardware and have to downplay that and only have
    • by rahvin112 (446269)

      Nokia's world ended in mid-2010. They are just in the prolonged slide into bankruptcy at this point.

  • by amoeba1911 (978485) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @03:25AM (#38546456) Homepage

    It was doomed to fail from the start despite being technologically superior at one point.

    It was cuter than the first iphone and was way more usable, but it lacked the cult following required to sell the cute factor. It was better hardware than whatever crappy selections android had at the time, but it wasn't as open and it didn't have the native plethora of google apps so it didn't get the geeky nerdy following. It was a million times more useful than the blackberry, but it didn't have the support of businesses.

  • Look at the track record:

    1) Compaq: bought 2002: Product line disappeared, brand name wrecked.
    2) Digital Equipment Corporation: bought 2002: Product line disappeared, brand name wrecked.
    3) Palm: bought 2010: Product line almost disappeared, brand name almost wrecked.

    If a company is bought out by HP than that is the end. My guess is that HP suffers from a very, very serious case of “Not invented here syndrome.”

  • to get each other's mobile OSs banned from public sale. In the meantime, it would be a bright idea for some patent attorneys to look at the 'abandoned' mobile OSs to see if they conflict with the Apple / Google / M$ IP portfolios.

    One of these days, a lawsuit-proof mobile OS might prove extremely valuable. Imagine the next generation of mobile OS products based on WebOS and Maemo rather than banned-from-sale iOS and Android.

    And an object lesson as to why tech companies should compete on technology and ma

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