Thoughts on the HP “Think Beyond” webOS event

Caution - The Clueless Will Be Impaled

So I’ll admit I sat through the entire event on two liveblogs. I’ve invested a bunch of time in webOS dev, and I really, really like the platform. This event would say a lot about the future direction of webOS. Hitting a home-run with the press would go a long way to ensuring the platform is around for a long time. So I was pretty interested.

My reaction, after chewing on it for an evening, is mixed at best. Some stuff was really encouraging, but vague information and poor, confusing messages continue to plague HP/Palm.

New Hardware demos: (B)

All the tech looks solid. The interaction between devices is impressive. The tablet looks great, the Pre 3 and Veer hit their markets solidly, and all 3 look powerful enough to run webOS properly.

This would be a slam-dunk A if we didn’t get the vague release timeframes that have plagued Palm in the past. “Summer” (in the northern hemisphere) gives us a timeframe between 3-7 months from now. And if we learned anything from the Pre launch, people forget quickly how awesome your stuff looked in a press event a couple months ago. Even on the short end, this seems contrary to HP’s proclamations that “when HP makes announcements, it will be getting ready to ship”. Based on past experience, it’s hard to believe HP/Palm will ship these devices in short order. I’d love to be wrong, though.

Also, no carriers were announced. That’s disappointing, and may indicate problems HP is having getting interest after the poor performance of the Pre and Pixi.

New Software Partnerships: (B)

Solid stuff. Skype is a big one, as is Kindle. Both are key apps that webOS has suffered without. The publisher partnerships are interesting, but it remains to be seen whether the concept apps turn into long-term publishing relationships. If Enyo comes through with its potential to be a cross-platform development framework, targeting an app for webOS will likely make more sense for big name third parties.

Support for older devices: (F)

HP really dropped the ball here. Not only did they go back on a promise to bring webOS 2.0 to the Pre and Pixi, they seemed unprepared with the news. It seems clear that not everyone was on the same page, and some Palm/HP employees weren’t even aware of this. In addition, no clear plan to make it up to loyal webOS users was presented.

This would be less of an issue if carriers had been announced. Folks stuck with a Sprint Pre would at least have a clear upgrade path that gets them on the 2.0 train. For now, it’s hard for them to be optimistic.

My personal experience (which might get me in trouble for saying, but c’est la vie): webOS 2.x runs pretty well on the Pre Plus. In some ways, the apparent performance is superior to 1.4.5. I’ve heard it runs poorly on the original Pre, though.

Developer Info: (D)

I was surprised at how short the developer presentation was last night. Enyo is exciting, no doubt – it’s a very solid framework that is far more flexible than Mojo, and allows for much better development workflows & utilization of superior dev tools.

So that’s awesome, but it also means that if you’ve invested a lot of time in Mojo dev (like me), you can just toss that out. There is no upgrade or conversion path. It’s completely different, and you’ll be writing your app from scratch. And whether Enyo can run on 1.4.5 devices (packaged with the app itself) is up in the air, so if you want to support the users you have now, you now have two codebases to maintain.

@webosinternals on Twitter asked a lot of questions last night about dev topics that remain unanswered. I’ll c+p here:

  • “No word on app catalog going global at the developer event?”
  • “No word on allowing hybrid apps into the app catalog at the developer event?” (was answered via Twitter by @unwiredben)
  • “No word from the PR folks about the 2.0 OTA broken promise at the developer event?”
  • “No word on how the palm profile works on multiple devices and the effect of that on app sales at the developer event?”
  • “No word on the fate of the mojo push messaging service at the developer event?”
  • “No word on whether HP is going to sell these new devices in other countries, or whether the release date hinges on US carrier acceptance?”

Even worse, devs I’ve spoken with expect to be let down by HP/Palm – they expect to get unclear, vague answers. Or silence.

Fundamentally, I have to wonder how much effort HP is putting into webOS dev relations. I’ve dealt with the folks there and they’re stand-up people, but my general impression is that they’re hamstrung and unable to communicate clearly to webOS devs. This is the time dev relations needs to be at its strongest, most forward, and clearest. Making folks rely on casual Q&A at social events, or catching Twitter posts is not how it should be done. If HP really wants a top notch dev program, they need to step up and fix this ASAP, or risk alienating their dev core.

If HP can get their communication problems sorted out and start being what I’d call “aggressively transparent” with its development community, I think we’ll get back on the right track. Here’s hoping.

  • rboatright
    02/10/2011 11:45:18 AM

    Rods questions on twitter pinned it. And Bend pseudo answer about hybrid avoids 1.4.5 so is no answer at all.

  • Lisa Brewster
    http://twitter.com/adora
    02/10/2011 01:26:23 PM

    All valid points. Documentation that answers these questions is coming, of course, we just didn’t have anything official prepared for last night since the focus was on shiny new Enyo.

    I’d love to hear the community’s thoughts on how we could have handled this better. Should it have been a part of the presentation (which would have taken away some of the Enyo sparkle we need to attract new developers)? Formal Q&A session? Open forum thread? Our challenge is that answers to a lot of these questions are a variation of “we don’t know yet,” but we could at least provide some insight into where we are currently.

  • Juize
    02/10/2011 01:44:19 PM

    Dear Lisa,

    webOS is a fantastic system. Agreed. The displayed and presented products look cool. Agreed.

    The new framework must be a step forward - not my core area. Agreed.

    The presentation was cool, albeit too long.

    What is not acceptable: Not sticking to promises made.

    1.Flash - that is an old story look it up. 2. 2.0 for all old devices - that was recently promised on dev day in Nov. 10.

    Customers on the pre - pre + and pixi at least some feel like beta testers.

    The presentation lacked two important parts:

    1. Products should be available in a very short time after the presentation. The carriers had to be present. The pricing had to be told.

    2. A promised software update should have gone online right at the start of the presntation.

    I hope you can diggest the feedback.

    Feel free to contact me on precentral.

    Cheers

    J

  • sugardave
    02/10/2011 01:44:49 PM

    Of course, it’s never a good time to say “we promised this, but now we can’t deliver,” but I think that developers (well, at least me) finding out from a 3rd-party blog about the status of legacy devices is NOT the way to go. Perhaps a post in the early access forum an hour or so BEFORE letting this info slip so we can at least chew on it for a while in private.

    Basically, we got a bunch of rah-rah-rah new stuff! Then we began realizing it’s new stuff later, nothing now. AND THEN we got hammered with legacy devices getting shut out. All in all a bad experience.

  • Sierk Schmittner
    02/10/2011 01:51:12 PM

    @Lisa: We already heard about Enyo last year, so I did not see much news besides the fact that the preview is coming.

    What I expected to hear: - What about Enyo apps on older devices? This is an important point for our development strategy. - What about a more detailed roadmap towards the new releases? - What about innovations besides Enyo, e.g. regarding the app catalog? - What about an international dev device program?

    You announced the Enyo preview but it is still not available - that could have been better prepared.

    Best regards, Sierk

  • Walt
    02/10/2011 01:52:44 PM

    Thanks for the concern, Lisa.

    I feel like this post has almost completely summed up my feelings as well. Personally, I would like to emphasize the distress that the upgrade-nix news has caused on the early-adopters who hadn’t heard any indication of the roadblock prior to the event. It has made the show completely bittersweet to my household (2 Sprint Pre minuses). Not only will we not be able receiving the highly-revered 2.1 update, but we have absolutely no indication of when Sprint will be selling a device which will get us there.

    We are hardcore Sprint tenants and Hardcore (with a capitol H) webOS users, but to be told “the coming months” for an indefinite amount of “coming months”, only to be told my day-one (6/6/09) Palm Pre is dead to HP is completly and utterly disheartening - at best.

    Honor the early-adopter and make the “path” a pleasant one.

  • Darius Moss
    http://twitter.com/dariusmoss
    02/10/2011 02:00:52 PM

    I am saddened by this. I’ve had my Pre- since June of 2009. I am the type of person who upgrades my phone every year; 2010 was a wasted upgrade cycle. If I hadn’t been promised that my Pre- would get 2.0, I would have simply got a new phone and waited for the next generation (Pre 3). This, by far, isn’t something I can’t get over, but the Pre 3 needs to be released fast. The longer the wait, the more content Android users are going to become with their phones, and the more people that will be locked into Verizon iPhones. I know the webOS “strategy” is a long term plan for HP, but the longer it takes, the more other companies will start to mimic HP/Palm’s ideas and design and the advantage will have been lost. Ruby can make jokes about the Blackberry Playbook all he wants, fact is, most people have no clue that it “copied” webOS.

    I’ve said all this to say, “this summer” is too long of a delay for the release of these products. Even if it is “this summer,” give us a release date! If an appealing Windows Phone is available before a release date of the Pre 3, I think I’ll buy it for the same reason I bought the original Pre ,which is for its outside of the box UI and overall structure. And, I’ll be confident that I’m with a company that can deliver - after all its Microsoft.

  • NelsunApps
    02/10/2011 02:01:40 PM

    There were lots of lovely new devices and cool tech shown… but the release dates, followed by the “no 2.0” thing, has left me wondering just how many visitors the app catalog will be seeing in a months time. I do my development out of love but I, like many others, would like to see some return on that. Babies ain’t cheap!

    In a nutshell - yesterday was both great and terrible. Really, why it wasn’t put off until HP had devices to sell is a complete mystery. I’m sure there must be good reason we’ll likely never know but it would’ve made for a very different day today indeed.

    Roll on the summer!

  • Bem Jones-Bey
    02/10/2011 02:15:09 PM

    @Lisa: To speak directly to what dev reIations could have done better for this event: A formal Q&A would have gone very far in addressing many of the concerns. A dev event without one tends to feel more like a presentation and less like a dialog, and developers really appreciate the dialog. Also, for those of us that may not be that good at formulating questions to ask until later, a formal Q&A helps greatly since everyone can learn from the questions asked.

  • Cesar (NuttyBunny) - @cesarneg
    02/10/2011 02:15:17 PM

    Hi Lisa.

    The thing here is that many of the most loyal Palm Pre users have always used the official Palm software, a thing that is somewhat easy to change thanks to Preware, but just to some extent.

    With the advent of the no-2.0-for-older-devices news, we’ll just maybe see a reboot on the FrankenDoctor topic, and they’ll will surely succeed. The Pre and Pre2 hardware are very similar, so people will just grab the newest Doctors, combine them with the Prerelease ones, and presto, instant 2.x for older devices.

    The sad thing is that the devices indeed support 2.x (at least the Pluses, I haven’t had the chance to check it on a Minus), it works fine albeit with a few bugs that as I guess have been ironed for the official 2.1… I don’t know why you just can create the Doctors for Pre 2 and beyond, and with some few changes create the Pre/Pre+ Doctors, it really goes beyond me.

    Slow? Bump it to 600 or even 720Ghz, all Pre’s and Pre+ support it! Few memory? Use compcache!! For god’s sake, the community has done so much for the devices that you could just grab the kernel patches and slap them to the official Pre Doctors… :(

    Sorry for the small rant, but I’m truly dissapointed… the way you should had handled this was:

    • There will be no OTA updates because the filesystem gets changed and there’s no safe way for rezising partitions with no data loss.
    • There will be a messaging backup scheme (maybe with an offline usb java tool)
    • There will be a 2.1 Doctor for Pre’s/Pre minus which will support said tool.

    After this, it would be the developers task to handle the versions… checks in the code to see if the user is on 1.4.x or 2.x, and see if you can install a java or js service, etc, etc… And tell the user: Your device can support this and that, but you have to do this to update it since it’s dangerous to do it OTA.

    I don’t know, that’s what comes to my mind. I really don’t like this situation, it just after my gf tried to update her Xperia X10 mini pro to Android 2.2 and we knew that Sony isn’t supporting that update (comes with flash and the capacity of installing apps directly to the SD - she already has exhausted the memory).

    Please, please, please, reconsider the update for Pre/Pre+/Pixies, it shouldn’t be too hard.

    Thanks!

  • nguarracino
    02/10/2011 02:20:01 PM

    I am very torn after yesterday. I love the new hardware overall (though you’ll never be able to convince me that losing the gesture area is a good thing,) but I am sick of waiting for it. The new hardware needs to be here NOW. I’m still on my original launch day Pre and it is hurting. My wife’s Pixi is dying and she has put off the hassle of exchanging it for a new phone on the hope of being able to pre-order a new phone yesterday. Not getting 2.x wouldn’t bother me at all if I could get a whole new phone before this summer. On top of that, we don’t even know which carrier(s) will have the new goodies, so we were left with more questions than answers.

    As far as the developer questions, I understand showing off Enyo was the primary goal but I know Rod is not alone in wanting an answer on his questions. Perhaps before the next developer event there could be a way to submit specific questions or topics you want to see covered. Maybe let us vote on them and try to address the most popular ones. Of course some of them would be unknown or confidential but at least it would give you a feel for which issues the community (including those who couldn’t be at the event in person) considers to be most relevant.

  • Daniel Cousineau
    http://dcousineau.com
    02/10/2011 02:20:05 PM

    My major frustration as a user and a developer is the complete lack of clear information. Why do the event now if you don’t know shipping or price dates?

    However the biggest, dumbest mistake that was made was deprecating legacy devices at the same time you announced a new product WITHOUT A CLEAR TIMELINE! Serious WTF panic inducing decision. Tell me, what the hell do I wth my launch Pre? Not complaining about deprecation, that I understand. How do I budget my time and money to buy your products, hmm?

    What could be done better? You can’t improve what you haven’t done. Marketing gave a fancy sales pitch and that’s it. I have heard no actionable information.

    I’m an early adopter, I’m typing this out on my launch Pre. I understand deprecation, this is a 2 year old phone. But it’s time to tell marketing to can it and TALK to me. I’m not interested in your vague promises (like release dates, been burned once), I’m interested in honest “this is what’s up”. I have yet to hear it.

  • rboatright
    http://www.webos-internals.org
    02/10/2011 02:31:55 PM

    Lisa,

    There are several things that should have been handled better last night.

    1) When the afternoon announcement of devices happened, the devices went up on the Palm web site during the presentation. It was there then. When Matt said “Enyo development is available now.” It should have been available “now.” Someone should have been sitting at the web site ready to press the button and drop the forum posts and the links. That was a mistake.

    2) The legacy hardware support needed to be in an official release, not an interview, not a twitter feed, not something. Again, the forum post should have gone out -then-

    3) The legacy hardware support should NOT LIE. You know and I know that a Pre+ runs 2.1 just fine. You know we’ve done it, you’ve seen them and we’ve laughed about it. “The hardware isn’t good enough” needs a far more detailed explanation. Transparency and truth matters here.

    4) If a company needs to break a promise to its customers, they need to apologize and to say that there will be SOMETHING done about it. Again, a formal announcement needed to be made. This should have been PRIORITIZED so that the answers WERE found prior to Feb 9. As it is, it sounded like the decision was made in some back room that morning. Transparency is important.

    5) The enyo presentation needed to address if enyo is being back-ported to 1.4.5. That missing from the presentation and from any followup is huge. The answer to it is critical. Since we KNOW that enyo was originally developed on Pre-1’s we know what the answer SHOULD be…. but whatever it is, we need to know

    6) The availability of hybrid apps ever on 1.4.5 is critical.

    7) Enyo on the desktop. Matt talked about it, but we don’t have the vision.

    8) Carriers, I know every one else said it too, but carriers NEEDED to be addressed yesterday. Huge fail.

    9) Two tiers of developers. It’s really an issue that three-to-six-months before releasing the tablet, you have Amazon and Time as “tier one” developers who sign real nda’s and who get to find out about unreleased products and work on alpha level software so that they can do forward looking stuff, and then there are us “tier two” developers who can’t be trusted. It would be really NICE if there was a way for developers who have proven their mettle to be promoted into tier one, sign paper nda’s and have access to nightly os builds and hardware specs for unreleased hardware even tho we’re NOT part of a giant company like Amazon. I admit there has to be a means test, but shouldn’t those who HAVE DONE be those who CAN DO?

    —- now, outside the numbered list ——

    The morning session made it clear that HP plans on creating an ecology of webOS running on a variety of devices which inherently and almost magically share data and information and which allow seamless access to your life. It’s very cool and allows me to start to have a vision of how webOS could penetrate the minds of millions of consumers and create a very exciting

    The idea that webOS will be embedded on the desktop of two laptops a second, plus a gazillion printers, and that people will want software to run in that environment and sync to their phones and tablets is very exciting… but the question of profiles on multiple devices, and how developers will be paid etc are all open questions that I suspect HP hasn’t addressed yet.

    ADMITTING that they haven’t been addressed, and again being transparent will help us with that.

    (Note also that questions like hybrid apps on multiple devices and PDK apps on multiple devices when the devices have different underlying hardware like dual core tablets and phones and intel/amd laptops are questions that need to be addressed too.)

  • Toby
    02/10/2011 02:43:50 PM

    Dear Lisa,

    I´ll speak my mind as a user (who´s closely interacting with quite a few devs). The hardware and software showcased yesterday is awesome and has an immediate I-want-that-stuff-effect…BUT

    What I can´t really understand is your question about “how we could have done better…”! Any official statement beforehand would have been better than dropping the bomb without further notice. In consequence both devs and users are trying to get answers for the questions mentioned above and many more, but the only thing they can do is speculate which leaves them in most cases frustrated and disappointed. I mean, even right now we´re not discussing this at an “official place” but a place which has been chosen because funkatron had to vent feelings many of us share (Please don´t get me wrong on this funkatron). I´m not going to enumerate all the facts which are being summed up nicely in many blog posts as we speak. It just feels like history´s repeating and that feels bad.

    And what does it mean exactly when you say “Our challenge is that answers to a lot of these questions are a variation of “we don’t know yet,” Let me repeat the questions and if “we don’t know yet” is your answer please use my question for every single one of them in return: “Do you really want me to believe that HP has/had no plans about this?”

    “No word on app catalog going global at the developer event?” “No word on allowing hybrid apps into the app catalog at the developer event?” (was answered via Twitter by @unwiredben) “No word from the PR folks about the 2.0 OTA broken promise at the developer event?” “No word on how the palm profile works on multiple devices and the effect of that on app sales at the developer event?” “No word on the fate of the mojo push messaging service at the developer event?” “No word on whether HP is going to sell these new devices in other countries, or whether the release date hinges on US carrier acceptance?”

    What is needed is what funkatron called being “aggressively transparent”:

    • official explanation (I´m not saying apology) asap
    • answers to the questions above asap
    • start selling the HW asap w/o sim- or netlock …tbc

    I´m doing quite a lot of translations (german) for some devs and I as far as I can tell many are not dev´ing for webOS because of money but because they love the OS and the community. But in the light of yesterdays news and Mr. Apothekers overstated promise they feel betrayed, lied to…use whichever superlative you want. If they are about to jump ship, what´s left for the users to do…

    Toby (@tklr) /Berlin, Germany, Pre+/

  • Bob
    02/10/2011 03:37:44 PM

    @Lisa - If the hardware wasn’t going to be available, at least for pre-order yesterday, it should have been a developers-only event to show off Enyo & give the developers a look at the new devices with it clearly stated that you don’t have products ready to ship yet. I considered traveling across the country to attend the event when I got the invite; I’m glad I didn’t today.

    With all the build-up & Leo publicly saying “the hardware is ready”, how can you possibly be surprised that folks are disappointed & angry with being told it’ll be available in 3-7 months; especially when iPhone 4 is available TODAY and iPhone 5 & iPad 2 are both probably going to be released before the new devices come out “in the summer”? I’m assuming you’ve gone to that new time-frame because noone can say “in the coming months” with a straight face anymore.

    I’ve been a Palm-faithful for many years & think WebOS is great but as great as it is, there’s a huge imbalance between the number of IOS/Android vs WebOS apps and now I’m being punished for being an early adopter of the Pre- with no upgrade path to new hardware or WebOS 2.x. How does H\Palm hope to convince devs that they should spend their time & resources to develop WebOS apps when customers are being driven away from the platform?

    Palm has a history of showing up a year late to the party with it’s phones. H\Palm needs to take a hard look at the business unit & decide whether they want to truly commit to being in the game before all their customers have shifted to other platforms because they don’t trust H\Palm to have their backs.

    Bob

  • André Natta
    http://dresramblings.com
    02/10/2011 03:40:35 PM

    I let my contract with Sprint lapse thinking that whatever was announced yesterday would help me decided what to do next. Yesterday left me wanting to try the new phones and the TouchPad ASAP but upset that there wasn’t enough preparation done to get us legacy users ready for not being able to upgrade our software.

    I held off buying a Pre- until Dec. 2009 and am currently on my third one (still upset about having to pay for the second one even though it was a known defect that caused it to not function properly).

    I’d be OK waiting until for a new phone until “later this year” if I was able to update to webOS 2.0. I’m loving the OS and I’m a huge HP fan but I wish there were clearer answers. I hope we get some good ones soon.

  • Ed Cates
    http://twitter.com/edcates
    02/10/2011 03:44:32 PM

    Lisa,

    “How (you) could have handled this better?”

    Don’t lie to or mislead the customers.

    Don’t let your fiercest advocates know via dueling blog interviews that the upgrades they have been promised aren’t…are…maybe…nope, not going to happen after all.

    Don’t have the CEO promise “no more announcing products not ready to ship” and then announce products with no set release date, no carriers, and no pricing.

    Don’t EVERPLEASENOWECAN’TBELIEVEITHAPPENEDAGAIN announce devices that are so far from being released it gives the competition time to steal your thunder.

    Don’t leave your developers in the dark.

    Don’t bill a marketing event as a developer event. The devs know the difference, and will obviously be disappointed by the former when they are expecting the latter.

    And for the love of all that is good, don’t go out on what is supposed to be a super-big-awesome-announcement day and get egg on your face by having this all come to a head in a way that makes the world’s biggest tech company look like some noob startup run by management school dropouts.

    DO please encourage people responsible for this mess to read some blog and forum postings so they can get a feel for the amount of anger and disappointment this has created.

  • Lisa Brewster
    http://twitter.com/adora
    02/10/2011 03:52:20 PM

    Holy snap, these are some awesome and thoughtful replies. Here’s what I’m hearing:

    1. Presentations are good, but discussions are better.

      Absolutely. We had a LOT of Palm staff at the reception last night to make ourselves available for questions, but it would be even better to have an environment where everyone benefits from the questions asked.

    2. Have the guts to come out and deliver bad news.

      We knew that making an official 2.0 OTA announcement would ruin everyone’s day, so we were hoping to get some buffer time before telling everyone the bad news. But when Precentral asked directly, it would have been dishonest to give a non-answer that would have kept everyone’s hopes up. THERE WILL BE PROGRAMS TO GET PEOPLE INTO NEW DEVICES, we just don’t have the details worked out yet. Worst. Timing. Ever.

      Regarding arguments that the Pre+ hardware will run 2.x just fine…I don’t have all the details on why the call was made to not offer a tethered update solution to people who really want it. But one could logically assume from statements made yesterday that it’s something we were seriously considering.

    3. So what’s the development path?

      If you have an existing Mojo app, continue to maintain it and optimize it for Pre3’s screensize (we’ll have details on how to do this). Maybe do some minor feature enhancements, but start shifting your focus to develop a TouchPad version of your app. Enyo will only be available on the TouchPad at first, but you’ll be able to leverage most of your work when Enyo comes to phones later this year. Remember, this is exactly what Enyo was designed for.

      The next few months are gonna be rough while we work through this Mojo / Enyo transition phase, but it’ll still be way easier than going down the path of forcing Mojo to support larger screen sizes. After we get through it, the future market that we hope will be available to you will more than make up for temporarily duplicated efforts.

    4. What carriers? What dates? WTF?

      This is outside my area of expertise, but yeah…would be nice to know. =]

    Hope this helps, guys. Keep it coming.

  • Markus Leutwyler
    02/10/2011 04:12:26 PM

    Dear Lisa,

    me as a webOS developer, community member and evangelist was expecting more that “just” the Enyo Presentation at the Developer Event. Happening after the presentation of new products with many developers attending, i expected answers about the future of webOS from a developer perspective. Unanswered questions (see webosinternals’ list above) that i assumed would be answered at such an occasion.

    Maybe it was unreasonable to expect answers at that time? But i’ve heard and read “at least we’re trying”, “we don’t know yet”, “we can’t disclose yet”, “in the coming months” for a while now. The 2.0 SDK has been in Early Access for months now, the Pre 2 is running a pre-release webOS 2.0, international paid apps/hardware availability is unclear, international develope relations is unclear, the list goes on.

    Please communicate clearly and openly about the future plans … why not at developer event with hunderts of developer attending, isn’t there a better occasion?

  • web05hitz
    02/10/2011 04:15:26 PM

    Thanks for the ongoing discussiona and responses where you can, Lisa. The one thing I don’t get is the hope for “buffer time”. Pretty much anyone could have figured that the 2.0 update question would be asked, so not having something planned seems…odd.

  • screwdestiny
    http://twitter.com/screwdestiny
    02/10/2011 04:16:43 PM

    So many comments have really laid out the problem. The most troubling thing is really summed up in Lisa’s post - “we don’t know.”

    What is the problem with communication at Palm? As someone on the Developer Relations team, I expect you to know about upcoming developer issues. But from your postings last night, it looks like your team was left out of the loop. I mean, you’re sitting here on Twitter saying there will be an upgrade while Engadget’s posting an interview with Ruby saying there isn’t. Do you see how badly it is that the Developer Relations (or should I say, Damage Control) team were the LAST people to know? It means the people above you knew they were throwing developers under the bus and didn’t want to hear about until the last possible second. I’m sure you realize what a terrible position this puts you in more than anyone, but I feel compelled to point this out.

    But more importantly, why were the issues not considered during development? It’s like no one cared that you had a base, like you could just start over and everyone would forget the time and money they’ve invested in the app ecosystem. I look at the reasons people say updating to 2.0 would be difficult and I wonder: why didn’t Palm plan for this? Profile incompatibility?! Having to run apps in the emulator on a Touchpad because you dropped the gesture area? The return of back and forward? Pray tell, are devlopers now going to have to launch interfaces for both gesture area devices and those without them? Or are we now abandoning that completely? I mean just…so many things.

    If I had to offer my suggestions, it would been to hold this event later or to not have wasted your time with the developer event in November, and instead have had one almost immediately following what transpired yesterday. It’s been months for us, we expected something more concrete.

    It’s a shame for this mark to be on the event as I definitely dug the new hardware, too. I want a Pre 3…not so much now with the developer issues. I’m not sure whether the support webOS needs will be there.

  • DeadTechnology
    02/10/2011 04:59:52 PM

    The problem, Lisa, with variations of “I don’t know” is then it shouldn’t have been discussed in the first place. This is the biggest point of frustration between Palm and anyone not-Palm. Palm makes big announcements before they’re ready for prime-time. Get your stuff together, THEN announce.

    If a man asked you to marry him before he had the ring, would it be as special? How do you suppose you might react if he said the ring would be coming “in the coming months” after his trip to spring break in Miami?

  • Frank K.
    02/10/2011 05:01:04 PM

    Very great article. I had nothing but high hopes for this Feb 9th. All i seem to have is a bitter taste in my mouth and the feeling of what could have been. HP really did drop the ball in many aspects. Is it that difficult to understand the urgency of making products make it out the door in a timely manner? Is it that difficult to understand WITHOUT DEVICES IN THE STORES THEY WILL NOT SELL. A press conference showing what is on the way “in the coming months” will/and did cause disgust and outrage in a community literally BEGGING for a flagship device in their hands yesterday… My two cents.

    Frank K.

  • ART-ifact
    http://webos.art-ifact.de
    02/10/2011 05:05:29 PM

    I totally agree with this post and the comments! I have nothing more to say.

  • superdog87
    02/10/2011 05:07:03 PM

    @Lisa

    My issue is with a company lying. I know it is not your decision, but my advice is to keep honest. It’s one thing when other companies split hairs over multi-tasking and such. But whole features and whole major upgrades is a huge issue. Maybe if Palm promised something, HP acquired and changed the roadmap without agreeing to Palm’s promises, I could understand a major change. But HP made promises too.

    1. On Sprint phones we was promised Adobe Flash. This was not a make-or-break deal for me, but they should follow through with the word. Do not lie.

    2. Palm & HP both have said they would upgrade the Pre’s for sure to at least 2.0. Now backing out is another contradiction. Do not lie.

    3. Even if a path to a new phone is made, it will cost us much more than planned now. Even a free phone, unlikely, offered on Sprint now will cost $10 a month more adding to $120 a year plus taxes.

    Someone in the company should have back-bone and set the record straight. So many mixed reports. Have a meeting getting executives on ‘close to the same page’ and report what your intentions are. People waiting around for months on in getting promises that are empty is never good in the long-run.

  • John Doe
    02/10/2011 05:08:35 PM

    OK, I’m going to break my NDA, a secret promise, since Palm broke their highly-advertised promise.

    I was on the webOS 2.1 beta on current devices, and things were coming along fine. There were a few bugs, as is normal for software development and they were being hammered out, but MY Pre plus was operating as a whole much more smoothly than it is now on 1.4.5. Suddenly and without warning, late last month the beta was pulled and we were told to doctor back to 1.4.5 and trash our old builds—never to speak of this again.

    To lie to the public and say that it “cannot support webOS 2” is disingenuous at best and flat-out lying at its worst.

    I bought my phone at Verizon’s webOS launch date about a year ago. Now my phone is obsolete and i’m locked into a contract where I can’t upgrade without serious financial consequence until the fall? Are you telling me that I won’t even be able to buy the NEW HARDWARE as it comes out without paying some ungodly $500-$600 MSRP? Not even Apple throws legacy users under the bus like that.

    Lisa, unless Palm speaks and SPEAKS NOW, it’s over and done for me. This Pre plus will magically wind up in a cup and I’ll walk back to BlackBerry with an insurance replacement. At least RIM still supports THEIR “legacy” devices for a few years.

  • Alberto Cajigas Jr
    http://www.twitter.com/treorock
    02/10/2011 05:12:08 PM

    I think I understand now why there is so much frustration regarding the issue why the old hardware is not getting WebOS 2.0 The problem is that the new hardware is not yet available and will not be available for months. Therefore, frustration arises from developers who were thinking about developing for WebOS 2.0 thinking that all the current user base would get the 2.0 update. If the Pre 3 was available within a few weeks (Just like we thought we heard from the HP CEO) then things would be taken as a transition. However, as of today all we have is a 4 to 6 months gap. I can wait, but some developers want to get the ball rolling now on WebOS 2.0 devices.

  • wormyrocks
    02/10/2011 05:15:58 PM

    @Lisa: I appreciate the transparency. It’s a real start. But we need information on an upgrade program NOW. Not in the coming months but now. I’m sorry but you guys just f*cked up in a big way and you owe it to your customer base to tell them what is going on with your upgrade program. Many of them will jump ship after having lost faith in HP, expecting the upgrade policy to be minor or nonexistent. If it doesn’t compensate users in a huge way, you will lose a huge percentage of the userbase. Many pre- owners have already gone out and bought EVOs. As has been stated earlier. 2.0 came out in november. There is absolutely no reason why a phone should not be able to run an OS announced 8 months after its release.

  • roneyii
    http://tinyurl.com/roneyii
    02/10/2011 05:17:59 PM

    As a developer, I would appreciate a simple way to transition my apps into Enyo.

    Do all 5,000+ apps in the App Cat really need to be re-coded? Wow.

    As far as the “No OTA” news goes, that really should have been an official announcement. I can understand not wanting it to be part of the big event. But it should have been announced by Palm (blog.palm.com??) and not on P|C. I really don’t think P|C handled that as well as they could have. Neither did WOR.

    I can understand the hardware not being up to the challenge. Trust me, I know that it’s asking a lot. But we really were looking forward to it. I hope that Doctors are available to the Pre users that want to go forward.

    And like was already mentioned; prices, exact dates, and carriers should have been announced.

  • Tanny O'Haley
    http://tanny.ica.com
    02/10/2011 05:50:35 PM

    HP’s problem is a problem of ethics in business. My friend Eric Mack states the problem as as it pertains to Knowledge Management:

    > Here’s how I currently define the argument for Ethics in KM

    > 1. Knowledge Management is about sharing of knowledge, information, and experiences - an exchange of information and ideas . (We often call this learning.)

    > 2. This exchange cannot occur without effective communication.

    > 3. For communication to be truly effective, transparency must exist. Transparent communication is built on trust.

    > 4. Any unethical behavior undermines trust which ultimately impairs communication which leads to the loss of sharing and the loss (or distortion) of information and knowledge.

    > The bottom line is that ethics is important to KM because of trust.

    I believe this old adage applies, “it takes 20 good deeds to make up for one bad deed.”

  • Steven
    02/10/2011 05:58:02 PM

    @Lisa, The only thing Palm could do now to make things right is start acting QUICKLY and decisively. We’ve all had to wait for “the coming months,” to get 2.x on Pre/Pixi, and now we have to wait for “the coming weeks,” to find out if there’s a chance we will or won’t.

    Adding to the confusion, there’s the new www.palm.com/webos-info page which is giving users on differing carriers differing messages about if their phone may or may not get the update. Stop being cryptic, just come out and tell us and don’t have us waiting for an endlessly undefined period of time.

    All I’d be happy with would be Palm to come out and say (within a week or two) if Pres and Pixis would get the update to 2.x at all, and a release date for the tethered solution. If not, then a statement outlining plans (voucher scheme?), which carriers and what terms.

    Personally, if voucher scheme was the way to go, the only thing I’d be happy with would be a complimentary, new, unlocked Pre 2 direct from HP. I don’t want to be locked into another contract with a Palm device, nor do I want to pay for one again, or at least for the forseeable future. That’s some serious badwill that Palm has generated right there. I wouldn’t be happy with just discounts, as I have no interest in paying to upgrade a device I shouldn’t have to spend ANY money on in the first place. Only if that happened might I consider staying with webOS. In fact, I’d prefer if Palm would just buy me out my contract so I could go get a phone running another OS, I’m that angry.

    Note that I DO understand the reasons for not providing the OTA update and not maintaining backward compatibility, and some of the points made are very valid. However, when your early adopters are still right in the middle of their 2 or 3 year contracts, this is completely unacceptable.

    Apologies for length, but I, like most others, am very angry and feel betrayed and mistreated by Palm. In short, Palm NEEDS to take rapid, decisive action NOW to do right by their existing fanbase.

    I think it’d be wise for Palm to remember that the people who are angry now have driven sales of Pres and Pixis considerably (3 people I know have bought Pres as I’ve advocated them in the past - how stupid I feel now!) in the past. If they want these passionate users to continue to do the same, Palm would be wise to keep them happy.

  • Malakun
    http://malakun.com
    02/10/2011 06:17:37 PM

    HP is a serious worldwide company, but behaves like a child drawing a fantasy world. On paper everything is perfect, but really there is nothing.

  • summatusmentis
    02/10/2011 06:26:09 PM

    Directed at people in general:

    To what extent is it possible that these issues, albeit large and needing to be resolved, are still due to the transition of a small company into one the size of HP? From what I’ve gathered, HP seems to be run in a tree structure, with each “department” (or whatever you want to call it, group, etc.) being fairly autonomous. I would guess (just a college undergrad here) that small companies are used to autonomy, but can deal with it, given their size.

    When a small company that’s used to a specific way of doing things gets integrated into the monstrosity that is HP, there HAS to be structural/hierarchical issues that cause break-downs in communication, if only because the giant company has a structure setup.

    I do agree, these are problems, but many of them seem to be communications issues, and not entirely lack of preparation.

    In short, is it possible we’re being too hard on a HUGE company that hasn’t quite figured out how to be as dynamic and responsive as smaller companies (which don’t have the organizational overhead in place already) can be?

  • Craig
    02/10/2011 06:26:54 PM

    Hi Lisa,

    While I can only really speak as a user I’d like to chime in with another reason as to why the lack of 2.0 support for the older devices stings. Contract length. I can’t speak for the US but here in the UK the majority of contracts are 18-24 months. With the release of the Pre Plus approximately a year ago this means that anybody who took out a new contract with a Pre Plus has at a minimum ~6 months left before they can upgrade. While the tech industry moves fast it shouldn’t be unreasonable to expect support for a product to last the duration of a typical contract as I expect many, if not most users cannot justify upgrading in the middle of a contract.

    Craig

  • ChodaBoy
    02/10/2011 06:29:46 PM

    First, thank you to everyone for remaining civil during this discussion.

    Second, thank you to Lisa, Chuq, and the others, for being stand-up people and taking the lumps that really should be felt much further up the org chart.

    Third, we now have a very fragmented webOS environment.

    • Pre/Pixi -/+ (and thus, current app customers) stuck on webOS 1.4.x with no access to microphone, direct file access, and the “50 new features” in webOS 2.x
    • Pre2 has webOS 2.? and the “50 new features”, but very limited availability in U.S.
    • Pre3 has webOS 2.2, but no gyro (or 4G), and no Enyo?, and no availability until “summer”
    • Pixi2, um, Pre Nano, um, Veer has access to webOS 2.2, but no gyro or replaceable battery (or 4G), and no availability until “summer”
    • PalmPad, um, TouchPad has webOS 3.x, gyro, and Enyo, but NO GESTURE AREA (WTF does management think the customers like about webOS?), and no availability until “summer”

    NO CLEAR PATH FOR DEVELOPERS OR CUSTOMERS!!!

  • Doug Reeder
    http://www.outlinetracker.com
    02/10/2011 06:38:41 PM

    Lisa, if HP/Palm didn’t have products and carriers ready to ship, why did you hold the press event? If there were no new answers for developers, why hold the developer event?

  • Jake Morrison
    http://appcitadel.com
    02/10/2011 06:40:53 PM

    They ONLY thing I should point out is that hardware isn’t coming soon, and devs are stick between a dead Mojo and a early access Enyo. Sprint basically isn’t getting any hardware, and my Pre- is about shot. I don’t mind not getting 2.0, that’s fine because it’s not that big of a deal. MY problem is that Sprint’s not getting any new hardware, and if it was announced that we were, Sprint’s doing some new BS where if you don’t upgrade your current before April 1st, then your upgrade is reset for like 11 months or something.

  • amateurhack
    02/10/2011 07:07:23 PM

    Disclaimer: I’m not a developer, just a day one pre owner and advocate for devs and consumers.

    Keeping my opinions on the business side of this equation where I am most qualified, it appears to me that what happened here is that all of these questions have been asked many times on twitter and on the various blogs for months. If hp/palm had paid attention and answered the questions openly and honestly before yesterday, this wouldn’t have turned out so badly. It doesn’t really matter how they would have handled it ay that time.

    And someone seems to have some indecision problems. If they knew two months ago that upgrading the older phones would be a problem, then 2 months is way too long in this market to make a decision on how to handle it. If I’m Leo, today I’m figuring out who that person is and…requesting an in person meeting…not good.

  • matt
    02/10/2011 07:13:35 PM

    Lisa. The way to handle it is to look at how Apple launches the Iphone and how they dealt with the death grip.

    Too many flat footed and vague answers.

    Matt

  • Erdosh
    02/10/2011 07:22:12 PM

    Dear Lisa,

    This must be a joke, a really bad joke :(

    HP/Palm asking here what they should have done?

    The answer to me is clear: such a big company should have the answers before. All the big numbers in the event and we end here?

    This is not serious. As developers, we have to look for info from 3rd parties? And you start such a serious debate outside your own place?

    You NEED developers, you make money from their apps (directly and indirelecty), and you need to take care of the small developers. They are the evangelists of WebOS, they do for fun, love, and they are LOYAL.

    How many time do you think this loyalty will remain?. No clear answers, no clear timelines…nothing is clear and even worse, now you start to lie to the people who where with you from day one (oh, great, you have partnership with Time inc, where were them on 2009?)

    As a user, I bought my pre- as soon as could get it. Had to change company, pay more for the contract. And you want to convince us that te pre- is obsolete? we all have seen what the pre- is capable of, thanks to the HB community. The pre- can compete with most of the phones with some HB goodies.

    What should you do? first, apologize.

    Do your homework NOW. When was the info on the developer site last updated?, when was the last time you gave clear info to developers?… etc. Enoguh waiting, “soon”, “in the comming months” is insulting your people.

    Do an exchange program. Give every user of all these devices who are now “obsolete” a new device for FREE and donate the previous devices to non-proffit organizations.

    Don’t even try to make an exchange program where people have to pay anything, don’t make money from the mess you just created.

    I thought someone said this company wanted to look “cool”…

    Lose money now to recover your loyal coustomers and developers before they go somewhere else. Lose money now to recover the love the webos community had. This will make you clearly different from the competition in the near future, before people go somewhere else…

    And please, remember, THERE IS A WHOLE WORLD OUTSIDE THE STATES…

    Do a very simple experiment: at MWC2011 in Barcelona, ask randomly to people what a pre or a pixi is….

    This is are my opinions/sugestions, sorry for the long post, but as I said before all this is becoming a very, very bad joke and kind of a nightmare.

  • Cringer
    http://www.cringeworthydesign.com/blog
    02/10/2011 07:46:13 PM

    I posted on zhephree’s blog and I will here too, and will try not to repeat myself. In short I have one app out I just got out on Feb. 2nd in the catalog. Didn’t know an javascript and still know little. Took me months to make a pretty simple app, in part because of available time and having to learn. I still have a lot to learn no matter if it’s Mojo or Enyo. App #2 for me is a mystery as to how to proceed, but the more I talk about this the more I am convinced it will be done in Enyo simply because I would probably end up finishing around summer anyways. We’ll see, one of my question has something to do with this decision….

    I love the questions raised above. Another question I have is this: The Pre 3 and Veer will be released with webOS 2.2 correct? Ok, the phone app is done in Enyo, but how much Enyo can they handle? Do I have to worry about making a Mojo app for if I want it on the Pre 3/Veer?

    Last night was a disappointment, LAST NIGHT. I feel for a developer conference that had people travel from all over for it was too short, it was an expansion of the info given in November and that’s it. I was sitting at home following a live blog and felt that. Needed a solid group Q&A session. Also, the question above originally posted last night by webOS Internals should have been addressed. You want to attract new developers? They need to know those answers just as much as current ones to figure out it webOS is good for them.

  • codecrumb
    02/10/2011 07:47:05 PM

    webOS and frankly Palm’s execution to date is starting to remind me of Duke Nukem Forever.

    • Whatever happened to Mojo Messaging Service?
    • Mojo was supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread but now has been replaced by a new shiny object.
    • There is no clear strategy communicated regarding upgrade and update plans
    • It is not enough to listen, it’s much more important to listen AND change (for the better).
  • Suruat
    02/10/2011 07:47:36 PM

    I am a new developer. In-fact I am only a developer because I bought into the idea that palm webOS was such an easy platform to develop on, and so I started reading on html and JS, and before I knew it, I had 2 apps in the AppCat.

    So my frustration is this, I barely know mojo, and now I have to learn Enyo; learning Enyo is not a bad thing since its much better going into the future: however Enyo does not support and other device at the moment, therefore, I have to maintain mojo and pick up Enyo.

    It seems odd that Enyo is not yet ready to support all devices, this will no doubt cause many devs to hold off on development for the time being (for a company with 6k apps, this is not good).

    Lisa, I thank you for even being here to answers some of these questions, and please don’t get frustrated with us, the main reason that there is such a backlash from devs in such a way is because we all love this platform so much and had such high hopes, many of us feel betrayed and disappoint.

  • Lisa Brewster
    http://twitter.com/adora
    02/10/2011 09:04:46 PM

    Lots of other points coming up around why we even held the event before having all the answers (emphasis on ALL, which I’ll come back to in a minute). That’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t position — either don’t do it soon enough to make changes, or do it too soon and start with chaos. It’s really tough to balance this just right.

    One thing we should have done was set better expectations that the event was more of a “marketing” presentation instead of a technical deep dive. Our intent was to give as many devs as we could a chance to celebrate with us and see what we’ve been working on, but you guys are clearly too hardcore to party before business is taken care of. Noted. =]

    To clarify what I meant by “variation of we don’t know yet,” I mean that more in a “we don’t have all the details worked out yet” way rather than “we have no freaking idea” way. We definitely know enough to help you guys start preparing for the next generation of webOS development, we just don’t have it written up in a pretty package right now.

    Operators aren’t exactly standing by since a bunch of key folks are currently on a plane to Barcelona for Mobile World Congress, but perhaps we should take the specific what’s and how’s of how this transition will work to the webOS developer forum where we already have a process for getting them answered.

    Thank you again for all your wonderful feedback, and know that the entire developer relations staff is taking it very seriously. This will all be worth it in the end, and that’s a promise we won’t break.

  • Edward Kuns
    02/11/2011 06:11:57 PM

    Lisa,

    It’s nice to hear that Dev Relations is taking this seriously, but if the rest of your company doesn’t take it seriously, then that you do so will be irrelevant despite your best intentions. We know that you and many others are trying to do the right thing. We just no longer have any faith that it is possible. HP and Palm appear to have too much momentum in the wrong direction to turn around at this point, again, despite the best intentions of many.

    I hope I am wrong about this, because I WANT HP (Palm) to turn around, to succeed, to gain market share. I just no longer see how it is possible after so many profound and recent missteps.

    HP and Palm were so very far off from where they should have been, two days ago, that I still find it stunning. And it sounds like communication within Palm and HP absolutely failed. Heck, the Palm web page still says that 2.0 is coming to the legacy devices. Check out the URL:

    http://www.palm.com/us/products/phones/pre-family.html

    where it says, right now, that 2.0 is arriving in the “coming months” for all devices listed on that page. How is it possible for one company to deliver such a fragmented and inconsistent message?

  • Jamie Popkin
    http://littleearth.ca
    02/12/2011 12:18:08 PM

    I love the direction HP is taking this. A variety of form factors and a new platform that makes the scaling easy.

    I have a couple apps in the catalog… And think the time required to transition them will be worth it. It’s just javascript. Many people are overlooking the fact that Enyo will help people launch their apps onto other platforms (Android, iPhone etc…).

    I think we should all be happy that HP hasn’t pulled a Nokia.