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Rumor: Palm Ditching WebOS In Favor Of Android

pre-androidWell look what rumor just popped out of the oven courtesy of Slashdot: Palm could be ditching WebOS for Android. In what the anonymous tipster claims is an internal memo to the WebOS software team, CEO Jon Rubinstein says:

While Palm is incredibly proud of our engineers who spent timeless work and effort to bring us this advanced operating system, consumers simply have not caught on. To provide a better future for ourselves and our customers, the only logical choice is to transition our hardware and software to the Android platform.

The official memo was supposed to leak in full on wikileaks.org around midnight, but that never happened, calling further into question if this rumor is legitimate. But even if the rumor is NOT the real deal, Palm ditching WebOS for Android is still an interesting concept to ponder and its certainly a possibility. We all know that after being the most highly coveted gadget for a very long time, the Palm Pre and WebOS fell flat. Their surging stock recently fell flat to a $0 valuation and with the iPhone and Android gaining furious momentum, the move has to at LEAST be considered.

As an Android fan would I like to see Palm make the move to WebOS? Absolutely… and absolutely not at the same time.

I want WebOS to succeed. The people at Palm are doing some innovative things with WebOS and the competition will also help push Android and the iPhone to new heights. As a 2-horse race there will be less choices for consumers and less innovation across the board, in my opinion. Palm is in a position to succeed but (in my opinion) is dragged down by two key elements:

  1. Poor marketing
  2. Lack of distribution

The Motorola Droid advertising campaign was an outrageous success, and probably a large part of the reason wasn’t only a top seller, but an industry leader. Meanwhile, Palm’s advertising campaign was weird, creepy and annoying at best.

palm-android-wtf

With a COMPLETELY new operating system and product, Palm has also taken it slow in getting WebOS out to the masses. The Pre made its way around the globe very slowly and a followup device wasn’t announced and launched until much after. We’re still waiting for Palm’s 3rd device – which seems nowhere in sight – while Android racks up dozens of upcoming phones and the iPhone continues its dominance. How can Palm keep up?

They can’t if they keep the same strategy. They have to either go “all-in” and push out a handful of new Palm phones of various form factors, distributing them to as many carriers as they can at once, or branch out. And by branching out, I mean they have to license WebOS for use on other platforms or simultaneously build atop Android.

That is the scenario by which I’d like to see Palm pursue Android – as a side gig. It’ll allow them to divide their risks and if Android proves to be overwhelmingly awesome for them and WebOS continues to fail – by all means make it official. But they’ve GOT to ride WebOS as far as they possibly can. Seeing the success of Android, why not take that same approach and allow others to build devices with it?

treo-androidAs WebOS falls further and further behind, less and less developers are interested in creating applications and games for the platform. It is clearly behind the iPhone, Android and Blackberry and the only limit to how far it can fall is complete bankruptcy.

The other option, which I think is the most feasible/reasonable, is to sell the company to a high profile manufacturer with a ton of money to spend who wants their own entry into the smartphone market. Unfortunately the time for that may be up – a company like Dell who might have taken a chance at one point can now work on Android instead, without the risk/burden of developing a complete OS from scratch and maintaining it for eternity.

What will Palm do? I have no clue… but I hope WebOS doesn’t disappear into oblivion. At least not yet. If you ask me, the existence of WebOS is good for Android and I hope to see it continue and succeed.

Do you think Palm will go Android?

[Slashdot via Wired]




  • Tim

    I don’t think so… Engadget just posted the same thing but when they called Palm they laughed at them.

    I hope it does happen but I don’t think it will.

  • Feech

    This all seems a little staged if you ask me. I could see Palm phones running Android at some point but not ditching WebOS all together. I think the best scenario for Palm would be to have HTC make handsets for them, the Pre was a great phone until you actually used it. No innovation at all.

  • jo

    my palm has a very sticky user interface.. if you know what i mean.. and i think you do… har har har dy har har

  • JustinWhy?

    Not gonna happen. If anything, Palm needs better hardware, not software.

    Why is this even a rumor?

  • Snuffy

    Love the OS bought a palm pre just to play with but by far I like android much better (rooted Droid with modded ROM), now if we could combine the two a little WOW!!!!

  • Bill D Williams

    No way, webOS is the the future if they could just stay alive. If they redesign their hardware, I will be one happy man.

  • jb0yx

    I sure as hell hope webOS comes to android in the form of a home replacement. Most of the good stuff that’s in webOS already exists in android to begin with. The major exception is the multi-tasking. This home replacement can be an exclusive to palm android devices to sell hardware, or sold at a premium in the market. I for one would purchase either to have the sleekness of webOS with the apps and extra functionality of android.

  • http://symbiosoft.net/palm_embrace_android Etienne

    Palm should seriously think about it. That should not be hard to try out: Android is Open Source and Palm Pre hardware is similar to those Android phone out there.

  • elliott

    I would def. Like to see a melding of the 2 b/c webos has its pros and mixed with android it would be epic to battle crapple!

  • hector

    too much effort wasted for a change that isn’t going to ensure revenues… i’m not believing till i see it (although palm has done that kind of weird things before: palmos – beos – webos)

  • treefq

    its too late for palm. The pre needs re-engineered for a memory card slot for starters. Pre should have shipped with Android originally but now they are stuck in the proprietary role again. Palm really needed the Pre to be a winner but it didn’t. low app support etc. I hear for the true business people Pre with WebOS is much better then Android’s ability to sync and such, but that is a small market compared to who Android is marketing for.

  • mike m

    At this point palm should not be laughing at anyone. The pre and web os was hyped to be the iphone killer and it has not made one wave. Business used to drive mobile innovation, now it is Apple and the younger generation. RIM and Palm are in trouble now and doomed when the 7 phone arrives.
    I see this as a 3 way race. Iphone ahead with android catching up fast, and the win phone a distant 3rd.

  • Jeff

    Is this the “if it’s on the internet it must be true?”

    The trouble is that it makes too much sense, and Palm has not demonstrated that capacity the past few years. It would clearly give them life again. So there’s no way…they just can’t see that well, sad to say. What an American tragedy.

  • G

    “timeless work and effort…” Really? This is fake. And a bad fake at that.

  • Jose G.

    Palm is essentially on life support right now. Honestly, I don’t see the Pre or the Pixi saving it. It’s pretty clear that webOS is NOT the future. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I used a Pre several times but just didn’t get it. The hardware, cheap construction materials, & ridonkulous fight with Apple over iTunes sync killed them.

    With Android essentially given to manufacturer’s for free, with the only cost to become a developer, it gives Android a leg up over the competition. Almost anyone can write Android apps for cheap. Palm simply doesn’t have the cash, manpower, or resources to combat the Four Horsemen of the Smartphone industry: Apple, Google, Research in Motion, & Microsoft.

  • Sanjeev

    @jb0yx: You say: “The major exception is the multi-tasking.” But I thought Android, like webOS and unlike iPhone OS, DOES do multitasking?

  • snapdragon

    Actually I like WebOS, but i sort of dislike the Hardware they have on the market right now.
    That’s one important thing about android: the choice of Formfactors and money you can sacrifice.

  • Neemo

    ditch the WebOs but bring the card view concept to android = win!

  • Jesse

    Why not build the WebOS on top of Android, like HTC has built their own Sense on top of it? Oh, and make some handsets that look like they belong in this decade.

  • Brian Hanifin

    If Palm ports the WebOS user interface to Android, they can sell their phones with the nifty interface they designed, plus benefit from the Android Market! HTC has been successful with their SenseUI on Android, why couldn’t Palm be successful with “WebUI” on Android?

    I think Palm should absolutely do this! Remember, Motorola gambled on Android (and made Android popular BTW) and that decision may have saved their handset division. It may be time for Palm to swallow their pride and follow suit!

  • MrXtc

    The Web OS is good. I had Palm-Pre and HTC G1 at the same time. The little horizontal blackberry style flip out keyboard on the pre is my only complaint. The plastic housing/screen on the Pre was better. Also, the built-in applications,on the Palm had a very nice look to them. It’s better than iPhone in many ways including e-mail, MMS, and Palm has a really great camera. Palm/WebOS is good, but not any better than the newer Droid (including Eris)

  • jimmy

    What I would like to see as a pre plus and droid owner is combine the two like have it run android wit a touch of webos on top like moto blur or sense ui and get htc or moto to make some kick ass hardware to throw what I like to call WebDroidOs on it and well have what u say a super-omega-phone but that’s just my opinion will happen maybe not but one can dream right

  • http://www.omgandroid.com OMG Android Reviews

    That would bring a new Market to android.

  • Adam

    I cant see Palm ditching WebOS all together. Maybe, as mentioned, Palm can play with Android and keep WebOS and see which is better for them.
    I got to thinking, can you imagine Google Gestures on the Palm Pre? It makes too much sense! It should be integrated into the OS and allow you to search just about everything in the phone and online search.
    What was that other rumor? The one about Google thinking about buying Palm?…

  • MrXtc

    There was a Palm/Web OS theme for Openhome, but that just changes icons :)

  • rick

    During my lengthy quest for a phone, I tried almost every smartphone out there. I loved WebOS .. nothin wrong with the os. I just couldn’t buy into the hardware (and the fact that they were in a death spiral). It’s too bad, cuz WebOS is very nice.

    I also witnessed Verizon sales people on 4 different occasions steer people completely away from the Palm Pre.

    So … I hope Palm/WebOS survives .. but PLEASE let someone else make the hardware.

  • Cool

    WEB-OS was great work for Palm and exposed serious flaws in their product as with marketing which ultimately doomed it. Thinking “Build It” and they will come, just didn’t work out. Also, Palm has serious HARDWARE Issues and tends to IGNORE them. Case in point is almost every one of the newer units they have introduced having battery life issues, but whatever… If Palm disappears, it disappears, It is what it is!

  • Yousif

    @elliott You bet!!! I’d love to see that too!!

  • Ned

    The language in the purported memo is beyond suspect (and poorly crafted). No exec characterizes missed sales targets and a strategy shift as consumers not having “caught on” to an OS. And there are myriad “logical” choices, which is why, when telling staffers about a decision, execs don’t use ham-fisted language like ” the only logical choice.” This snippet was written and leaked by a high-school student, who, hopefully, will someday find him/herself happily writing real memos with better style.

  • Abrown

    I love Android, I really do; and I will support Android with my money by buying Android products and telling everyone how great it is. But when it comes to Palm and WebOS I would be sad to see them just adopt Android. I think its not only in the best interest of Palm but the best interest of consumers to keep WebOS alive. Thats what I hate about Steve Jobs current tantrum and sue happy Android killing spree, he wants to lock everything down to just him and his iPhone. I’m all about competition, fee market, customer choice and every good thing that comes from that. So while I love Android I would be sad to see the market dominated so completely by Android that it turns into the new iPhone and Eric Schmidt the new Steve Jobs…not saying that would happen but the more competition Android has the better it will be for the OS and Google’s customers.

  • fatscooter

    It would be interesting if Palm spruced up the homescreens. Perhaps flicking your finger down (top to bottom) brings up the multitasking card-view, and you can kill a task like that. Maybe a proprietary button for card-view? And flicking up brings up the app menu. That would be cool.

  • Clinton

    WebOS was pretty awesome from a UI perspective. It doesn’t have the developer support though and at this point in the game I don’t see it gaining it. If Palm went to Android they could leverage that developer environment with what they’re good at which is good UI.

  • Jason

    Nokia should buy Palm for their webOS when the stock price is near the bottom.

    Nokia’s hardware is great but their software is a bit quirky. Palm seems to have the opposite problem.

    Cheers

  • Brad

    I guarantee you that WebOS would be more successful if their hardware designs weren’t some of the worst ever. Who the heck wants a vertical slider phone anymore? They’re ridiculously hard to type on. I’m also not a fan of no-button interfaces (and what the HECK is up with the unlabeled touch-sensitive plastic below the screen?). My very first thought when I saw the Palm Pre was simply “eww.” I played with one in the Sprint store for a few minutes, but I could just never get past the horrible appearance of the device. Regardless of how good the OS may or may not be, I wouldn’t want to look at that thing every day. My Droid Eris, on the other hand, underpowered as it may be, is very pleasing to the eye.

  • youGotItBackwards

    WebOS is their baby, the hardware is fungible. Personally, I’d like to see WebOS running on my iPhone.

  • http://bdpadet-tac.blogspot.com/ Cliff Samuels Jr

    Remember, Palm dumped their original Palm OS for the WebOS never releasing the multitasking Palm OS that was to be released. They also dumped Windows Mobile on their phones. It would be no surprise that they dump WebOS for Android. The former juggernaut is now crawling on its knees to find a successful phone.

  • akkharu1033

    Palm’s management and bored are still stuck in their early ’90′s heyday and not with the times. Common sense should tell you that i you are strapped for cash, and the competition ALREADY has VASTLY superior hardware on the market, the winning approach would be to follow Motorola and HTC’s approach and simply leverage software development into a compelling UI (like Sense and Motoblur)that makes the user experience easier and, more importantly UNIQUE, like a brand signature. The money that is saved trying to constantly update the WebOS to offer the same features as Android or iPhone would be better spent on HARDWARE development, which is their Achilles’ heel right now. If developers are not supporting WebOS and designing compelling apps consumers are willing to download and buy, the OS is NOT a selling point for Palm and they are better served by adopting Android and de facto outsourcing both OS and application development to focus on their biggest weakness (hardware). Moto and HTC have hit the sweet spot in the 2010 handset market: they’ve outsourced all OS and app development, come up with unique UI’s that make their phones easier to use and more aesthetically pleasing, and spent their big R&D dollars on what consumers (especially us tech junkies who are the biggest buyers of smartphones)really want: nothing less than top of the line and state of the art HARDWARE, which have been their traditional strong suits. Pam needs to wake up and learn from these two leaders who are the future of the phone market. As to the comment about merging with Nokia, that is an intriguing proposition that WOULD address BOTH of their weaknesses, but I can’t see Nokia’s board going for it (although if Palm stock is essentially worthless…hmmm).

  • Ben

    I’m certain that the corporate sharks are circling the sinking Palm ship in the hope of eating its patent portfolio.

    Apple would surely love to get its hands on those patents; likewise Google and Nokia. I’d love to see htc buy (or merge with) Palm, as they would then own a patent portfolio to do battle against Apple.

    If the company goes bust, my money is on Apple buying the intellectual property. But an htc-Palm link up might produce useful synergies for both partners; htc could market WebOS for business orientated smartphones (where WebOS shines and htc has considerable market clout); htc already use three operating systems for their smartphones, so they are used to supporting multiple platforms.

    WebOS would survive and htc would get patents.

  • Martin

    I’m an Android man through-and-through, but I think its multi-tasking is second to none. I think it needs to stick around for a while because the extra competition is going to keep Android pushing out the frequent updates like it has been.

  • John

    I love the Android fanboys in here. All I can say is that I’ve played with several Android handsets in various carrier stores and the user experience is just plain awful. Clunky, boring, and a downright vanilla user experience to say the least. WebOS on the other hand is pretty, easy to use, and feels much more lightweight than Android. Just because Android is ‘free’ and ‘open source’ doesn’t mean its better. The only reason Android was adopted so heavily is cos its from Google, and, as of now, Google can ‘do no wrong’ and it only made sense for them to compete with Apple.

    And… seriously Brad? You’re complaining about the Pre’s design when it’s one of the most visually striking handsets on the market? What are you smoking? I’m going to take a wild guess that you own an HTC handset running Android. Wow, some original designs there. Have fun differentiating Eris from Nexus One..

  • http://www.phonecards4all.net phonecards

    Completely ridiculous.But palm selling the os to other phone makers would be good and that could save them.People nowadays want apps on their smartphones and palm just dosent have enough,but they do have the best os going today.They need better marketing better managemant and probably better hardware because they have the right software.