Should Palm Drop WebOS for Android?


That is the very question being asked by our friends over at Tech Dirt.


With the explosion of interest in the Android Operating System and the new influx of Android powered devices could it already be too late for WebOS to catch up? It is not without precedence for Palm to open up their devices to other operating systems (they have let Windows Mobile on earlier devices) – so why not do the same thing with Android?

Right now developers are faced with the choice to produce their applications for either the App Store, the Android Market, WebOS Market or for the Blackberry Market – at least so far as who to produce their application for first before potentially porting it over to another store. Obviously the App store has been given a head start, but with the controls Apple has placed on their market and with the continuing saturation of their market, more and more developers are turning their sights to the quickly growing Android OS. With the App Store and the Android Market dominating, WebOS appears to have become the loser in this equation. The solution would be to use their solid hardware but add Android to their devices.

What do you think? Would you buy a Palm Pre that ran Android OS?

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  1. I think WebOS should be open sourced and made working with other devices.

  2. I personally think that if Google could do it over again knowing what they know now about WebOS I think they would have done something along the same lines. I’m not intimately familiar with WebOS development but it feels more ‘Google’ than Android. And Chrome OS sounds a lot more WebOS than it does Android.

    One man’s opinion :)

  3. No! I didn’t buy the Pre because of price and the hardware (Can a phone feel cheaper? Can a physical keyboard be less useful/smaller?). The one thing interesting about the Pre was the OS. Android is nice, I like my Android (though Cyanogen crashes a bit too much for my liking), but if I could flash WebOS onto my Magic, I would. Immediately. Without any doubt at all.

    I do think Palm should open up WebOS for other manufacturers.t

  4. No! I didn’t buy the Pre because of price and the hardware (Can a phone feel cheaper? Can a physical keyboard be less useful/smaller?). The one thing interesting about the Pre was the OS. Android is nice, I like my Android (though Cyanogen crashes a bit too much for my liking), but if I could flash WebOS onto my Magic, I would. Immediately. Without any doubt at all.

    I do think Palm should open up WebOS for other manufacturers.

  5. NOOO!! Palm’s down fall was 1. going with sprint and the other was the hardware, they need a phone with a screen as big as the Droid with a full query keyboard and something that does not feel so plastic. WEBos is a much better OS than android. Android 2.0 still lacks features webos has. My next phone might be an android phone, but just imagine something like the droid, with a 1ghz processor ran off webos!! wow

  6. Personally, I hope not. Android is great, but the increase of OSes out there help contribute to the advancement of technology overall. One OS does something good (for example, the music player in the iPhone) forces Android to come up with something better (not saying that the Android MP sucks, but people have complained that it’s ugly). Another example is the browsers on Blackberries (which have had complaints ranging from hard to use to outright useless) viz that of Android. Even the much lambasted Windows Mobile is (belatedly) starting to step up because it’s fallen so far behind and outclassed by everyone else (and you know Microsoft hates to be behind in anything). Even Linmo and Maemo, when they appear on the scene, may have an effect.

    This is how innovation works: when someone ups the ante, there’s progress. The fewer OSes there are, the less innovation there is, and we consumer suffer as a result.

  7. good point Rob I agree.

  8. No.

    Palm just left the WM scene and came up with something they can market as a unique feature. I fully agree with Rob that competition helps overall innovation in this aspect.

  9. IMHO Palm have two choices… be a niche supplier of both hardware and OS, or put Android or Windows Mob on their hardware and compete with the likes of HTC.
    Previously they’ve been very successful at the first when there was little competition, and reasonable at the second before the competition got their act together.
    However I’d be surprised if they manage it this time. Their hardware’s just not good/different enough, and they’re too late with the OS.

  10. I don’t see why Palm has to adopt Android to compete. If anything both WebOS and Android run linux, they could open source WebOS, then merge some of the Android code and be able to run Android apps while keeping everything that makes WebOS so nice.

  11. @Rob
    I fully agree with you! Without competitors there is no innovation. Why bother bringing a better Version if nobody sells better crap;).

  12. Palm completely blew it by launching exclusively with Sprint. Horrible horrible idea. For those (like me) that travel heavily across the U.S. it’s simply not a viable network. AT&T and Verizon are it. I’m not nuts about the Pre hardware either – screen is too small, keyboard is too small. WebOS is the one thing that they’ve got that’s of significant value. But they’re too small to own the OS and the hardware, and hope to achieve scale and compete. Better option would be to license WebOS or make it open source and get other hardware providers to build phones for it. And for goodness sake, get some of those phones on AT&T and/or Verizon.

  13. In my opinion this should happen:
    Palm puts there WebOs open-source and Android gets a very nice multitask feature like Card-View. Thats amazing to use but the Hardware sucks.

  14. The correct answer is “who gives a sh…”

    But seriously: No, I won’t but a Palm. The hardware reviews weren’t excactly pretty.

  15. Palm is struggling to survive at this point and they’ve bet the farm on WebOS. It may take some time to catch on but I wouldn’t expect a change in strategy any time soon. They’re app development is going to need to take off to compete but I don’t think this OS is dead yet. A year from now with a few more handsets on the market, if they are still seeing sluggish sales then I would expect them to come up with a renewed strategy that is different from WebOS. If the company has any chance of survival I would expect them to be able to stick to a strategy for longer than 8 months.

  16. How are people here spelling QWERTY wrong? Seriously, all ya gotta do is run your finger along the top line of letters on the keyboard, and it comes out correct. “query” keyboard? Wow…

    As for WebOS… it’s doomed by being stuck on Palm devices. It’s doomed by being in one flimsy piece of trash, and another tiny useless similar piece of trash – and then Sprint… awful choice for your supposed savior. Hardware makes a huge difference… and something that feels as empty as the Pre won’t cut it.

  17. If they adopted Android, they should just use the current Pre Interface to differentiate themselves from the other Android devices. The pre would work exactly the same as it does now, but with 10,000+ android apps.

  18. Here is my way to save Palm with the Pre 2 and currently available technology.

    1. Android 2.0
    2. Visually equivalent Web OS-like interface with cards etc… The same way HTC puts it’s own interface on Android phones
    3. 4.3 inch multitouch screen with almost no bezel like HTC HD2
    4. Snapdragon CPU
    5. Version with and without industry best horizontal keyboard.

    That would personally be my ultimate phone with current technology.

  19. 6. Make sure to sell it on as many carriers as possible…especially Verizon.

  20. First off, I have a Palm Pre, I love it. Pinch to zoom, multitasking, a real browser. It’s basically the phone that filled in for the missing features of the iPhone. People kill me with the whole “it feels cheap”. That’s your reason for buying a phone? Because it feels cheap?

    The major problem I have with the Palm Pre is lack of applications. WebOS multitasking (the way it does it) and browser speed is what Android 1.0 should have been

    The problem with Palm now is they just don’t have the apps to compete with Apple or Google. Even less WebOS adoption means that developers aren’t even really interested in developing for a platform with so few who actually have the phone.

    Developers are being pulled in all sorts of directions for mobile OS. Windows, Symbian, Apple/iPhone, Android, WebOS. Well technically I don’t think people care as much about Windows, and Symbian any more. I think everyone who tries WebOS loves it, but they’re missing application(s) that extend the functionality of the phone. Out of the applications that are available be it from homebrew or Palm, they all suck! There isn’t ONE killer app. No official Google Voice app, no augmented reality app, no bar code scanner app. Nothing to bring attention to WebOS and say hey cool. Even a SlingPlayer app could have brought attention to the OS. It would have said, hey look, we have something Android doesn’t. Google Voice? Hey look we have something Apple doesn’t. They seem to release 1-2 apps per day. I can do with password vault and soundboard app. Give me some useful tools I can use.

    I know the OS is still fresh and both Google and Apple had a head start. I just honestly thing it’s too late for anyone to care about WebOS at this point. It’s going to turn into another PalmOS which may last and may gain attention. But if they can’t release the quality and quantity of apps others are releasing, they might need to start trying to complete with the RIM instead, I think it’s a hell of an alternative to the BlackBerry given it’s keyboard (less a BES of course).

    Now let’s go to the hardware. If Palm drops WebOS (stupid) they would be relying on hardware only. So far it seems so many don’t like the Pre and the Pixi seems so-so. What Palm should do is license their browser to Google, license their OS capabilities (like the card view to switch between windows capabilities), etc. Make as much money as you can off the WebOS software by integrating it into another OS like Android. Then become an Android phone seller.

    If WebOS had the developers banging down their door then it would be a no-brainer because WebOS is great. Still needs some improvements, but no more than say Android.

  21. I love the webOS but I do believe it is too late to catch up now, i think webOS should be open sourced, AND palm phones should have the option of running an android os too.

  22. In a way they could have both. After all I am under the impression that the webOS apps are using web technologies with extensions to access the native hardware. Sounds a lot like some of the frameworks I have messed with that allowed me to just drop them into a webview. That being said it would depend on how much they wish to push hardware, because they could sell an SDK to allow webOS apps to run on any platform that allows extensive web pages be it Android, or even the iPhone.

  23. the WebOS itself is nice, but Palm failed for choosing the hardware. The PRE feels like a cheap prepaid phone you find at Wal-Mart. If Palm want to compete, pack on some serious hardware, like the Droid or the Sony X10.

  24. The problem is not the WebOS, but the wrapping Palm choose for it. Plastic and crappy keyboard, all reviews that’s been the only knock on the Pre. Imagine the WebOS in a shell similar to the Motorola Droid.

  25. I have a friend who has the Pre and loves it. However, would I buy a Pre with Android? No. The real question for me is would I buy a Droid with WebOS? Heck yes!

    Honestly, just as has been said already, I think Pre needs to open up to other non-palm devices. Let HTC and Motorola and Samsung have a crack at a WebOS device. I think that would easily save Palm! And definitely give it to other carriers!!!!

    Palm saved itself for a little while with the Pre, but I’m not sure it’s doing itself any huge favors with the Pixi. I wonder how long they’ll last now.

  26. honestly what is webOS anyway? my girl friend has the palm and i’ve kinda played around with it but i’ve yet to see hat it has to offer, the phone itself is very smooth but i dont think that really is because of the webOS or maybe i’m wrong, and i think they need some serious device designers over at palm because the palm pre isnt bad looking but the palm pixi is a disgrace and a serious step back words, no new phone should have a 2mp camera and under a 3in touch screen………….sorry for ranting

  27. @Derrick

    Apps and lack of microSD slot are the reasons I didn’t consider the Pre more than for a short time. I don’t forsee more than two power players in the apps world (that get the biggest/best apps), and those two are Apple and Google. With the limited devices/carriers, Palm has no chance to be anything more than a tiny niche in the app world.

  28. @Matthew Lenz

    Actually Google already supports application development using web standards on Android via Gears, it’s not as in depth as Palm WebOS is yet but they’re more or less headed in the same direction.

    Google’s actually working on bringing some of the features of Chrome over to Android (like it’s V8 javascript engine) so the two companies will likely collide in the future regardless.

  29. I kinda wish they would combine the android and web os, i think that would be very interesting and pretty awesome looking. Web OS has some awesome features like multitasking and flicking left and right to different task and flicking up to end that task, just little things like that is what makes it an interesting OS, which is my 2nd favorite right next to android of course. If there was a way to combine them both that would be one Sexy OS. haha, just a thought.

  30. I realize I just did a bunch of babbling. That’s what happens when you’re at work and staying hooked on Phandroid.

  31. Um…


    I hope PALM doesn’t give in to the iDrone-iClone thought process everyone seems to have, and the need to tell consumers what they want to buy and do lately or they are stupid and dumb for not doing it.

    I’m an individual and so is PALM. Long live PALM. Log off the Matrix from time to time and go outside.

  32. @Derrick: “People kill me with the whole “it feels cheap”. That’s your reason for buying a phone? Because it feels cheap?”
    No. Otherwise I would buy, I don’t know, a Motorola Aura or something like that. But the Pre is expensive, much more so than most Android phones, but it feels much cheaper than them (yes, even than the dirt cheap Huawei U8220, which is actually pretty solid). The Pre is good looking, but I’d be afraid to drop it. It looks as if it is going to fall apart when you look at it. At the Pre’s price point that is not an option, such a device has to have a good OS (and I think it has the best), and good hardware. What’s inside the plastic toy casing is fine, but the casing is awful. And that IS a problem, at this price point the product has to be perfect, in every aspect. (Lots of WinMo and Symbian phones have great hardware, but the OS is awful. A no go too).

    What, IMHO, could save Palm would be to port WebOS to Android, making it possible to run Android apps in WebOS, and offer a SDK or something to make it easy to make them look native. Like just recompile the source code and that’s all. And/or to license it to other manufacturers… heck, they did that with PalmOS too! And if they don’t license it to others, then get in bed with e.g. HTC, let them build a WebOS phone for Palm, like SE did with the X1.

  33. I, for one, am really hoping for the Web OS to succeed. I’ve been using Palm for a decade and I would like to haev a Palm something available whenever my trusty Treo goes to the bityard in the sky.

    For me there is little choice. I can’t see ever switching from Sprint. I really don’t want to pay big bucks to Verizon for no difference in service and I don’t want to pay AT&T to drop my calls wherever I go. I commute 60 miles across the desert every day and I cannot risk being on a flaky network like AT&T.

  34. They SHOULD have, yes. Maybe they could have built the cards as a shell for the Android OS? The main reason they should have – applications. They are going to have a tough time attracting developers with larger install bases on the Android and iPhone platforms – and applications are keeping these devices fresh and fun. I tried the Palm Pre for a week. I liked the OS, the speed was good, but there were (effectively) no apps. I mostly returned it because of its strong support for Google Apps – it wasn’t bad, but it was no Android.

  35. Palm pre is a great product and webos rocks. This is a stupid concept and should go away…The company with the best OS out there giving it up for a crappy cheap looking OS

  36. Palm should do what HTC and Sony/E did and make their custom UI for android. They probably won’t and developers just won’t be interested in webOS.

  37. I have a pre and a htc hero and webos is way better than android… All they need is a phone with a bigger screen and keyboard and yes change this slippery ass plastic material but the os is the best out right now

    and side note you can get wallpapers for your palm pre and android phones here http://www.mp3hustle.com/palm

  38. People that say the Palm Pre is crap and Sprint isn’t worth anything must not have either or really have nothing better to do than complain. I have a Palm Pre and it is the best phone I have ever had. I also travel and in fact, I am on a plane every Friday and every Sunday and Sprint has never let me down. Not only are they reliable, there is no comparison in pricing with the other networks.
    About the OS? It’s too soon to talk about this. In another year Palm will be better positioned to decide what to do. WebOS is an excellent OS.

  39. I have a Pre and webOS is fantastic, the Pre hardware could be better but the keyboard took about a day to get used to and although people complain about the screen size, it really isn’t an issue. The screen has the same resolution as the iPhone and many other phones and it is much more pocketable compared to these phones. I think Palm going to Android would be abandoning something that has enormous potential. For those of you that complain about Sprint realize that when you don’t have sprint coverage you roam at no charge on the Verizon network and Sprint is significantly cheaper on plans as well.

  40. This is article is so dumb. To say Palm drop WebOS for Android is sort of analogy of saying United States should switch English to Spanish due to the fact that we have over 100mil latinos speaking in this country.

  41. I agree scuba… Plain and simple. Sprint has the best plans and no problems at all with the network around my area. I’m a longtime WM user; early Pre adopter and new Hero user, and must say… I was pretty disappointed in the so called “multi-tasking”, Android offers. WebOS is much better in that aspect, and the hardware that really matters is in the inside and that’s barely even being used right now. WebOS will be even better once it’s optimized.

  42. Because of my job, I get to see/use all of the new phones and networks. I love the WebOS. However, Palm stumbled at the gate here.
    1. They made a poor choice in hardware physical design (not performance, love the TI-OMAP). They CAN NOT compete at that size. I do not like using the web on this small screen! At its best, the keyboard is annoying.
    2. Restricted the dev community to a very small bunch!!! wth!

    They should either:
    1. Open their OS to other hardware makers.
    2. Run to Android when they call. Skin (well much deeper, of course) their look and feel for Android (for various hw manufacturers, this would be the default Android look).

    It seems Palm tried to follow the Apple route, WITHOUT the Apple might and community behind them; that is, One OS experience on one Hardware platform (as much as I despise this boring socialist approach). Its work for Apple but, sorry Palm, you’re no piece of fruit.

    My two cents.

  43. Thank you Mark!
    That is the exact same thing I was thinking when I read others’ comments. Sprint’s 3g network is far more vast(and reliable) than AT&Ts, and they allow free voice and data roaming on Verizon when out of the Sprint service area. Why would Palm use AT&T when they already have bandwidth issues with the number of data-hogging iPhones on their network? Verizon may have been a decent choice, but their unlimited data plans are pretty much double the price of Sprint’s. Verizon is expected to release the Pre come January. WebOS is awesome! I do, however, believe that a hrdware(design) upgrade would make Palm devices more marketable. The processor is plenty fast to handle just about anything.

  44. Agreed. WebOS is the REASON for the Pre. It is not the hardware. What Palm has is the best OS for a phone or standalone device. That is what will lead them into the future.

    My hopes? WebOS device for Verizon and another for ATT. I have heard this week that both of those are in the works. Palm Pre MUST stay on the Sprint network (along with Pixi) but the WebOS OS does not need to stay with Sprint.

    The THOUGHT of putting Android on a Pre is laughable. WHY? The WebOS IS the reason for the Pre… nothing about the hardware is compelling. Oh, it is useable, feels nice, convenient, etc. but so are other phones. No, it is the WebOS… that is the ticket.

    It is my thought that Android and iPhone are more worried about WebOS than any other implimented OS. They don’t consider Palm a serious competitor, but they fear the OS is so superior that if it gets some traction, it will grow in popularity. Just ask any users of the OS… experienced users who have used Android 2 and iPhone and WinMo…. they all will tell you that WebOS is the best OS. They will also tell you that apps such and the hardware should be more solid. So, Palm… produce a great piece of hardware, and open up development… and you may have a winner on your hands.

    Truly, it is the best smartphone/webphone I have ever used. And I have used a number in my job.

  45. If only Google and could allign to make an iPhone-killer OS. Android 2.1 Enterprize Edition + Palm WebOS
    And not to mention, HTC would make a device running this OS and put HTC Sense on it…

  46. People are right about the Pre in that the hardware feels fragile. The Pixi, on the other hand feels solid and looks elegant! Go feel one for yourself. Its also fast enough for the vast majority of people. And its tiny, which is more important than you think…

    There is no reason to wait for palm to get a better app catalog. There is no reason to wait for the Sprint Pixi to get wifi. There is no reason to wish the Pixi had a bigger screen. Why? Because the Pixi is tiny. It is tiny enough that you can easily carry it in the same pocket as an iPod touch, which has all of these features. Why wait for one device to do it all when you can carry both slim devices that together cover all of the bases?

  47. It is time that Palm get back to their source. which world phone can do what the Z was able character recognition and other feature. Their a large number of apps. They missed the GSM so that was what got them. We want an elegant phone that can be a very powerful Call/Comp/Cam just watch Picard with his PAD.

  48. I am not sure if it is too late for Palm to rescue themselves. They have taken too long to act and their loyal customer base and huge developer base have mainly deserted them for other aggressive platforms. Without these two bases, Palm will be left behind fighting a losing battle.

    By adopting Android, Palm will become another commodity among the sea of handset manufacturers most of them are part of larger businesses.

  49. WEBOS IS GREAT!!! Android is too, and with HP buying it, this is no longer a question, but a answer “NO”…

  50. That would be a step back in evolution. All we need is better hardware for webOs… I love the palm keyboards, don’t change that!

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