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back to article HP's WebOS mess: When smartphone assets go toxic

On Tuesday, HP was talking to the Wall Street Journal about putting WebOS in stoves, fridges and cars. By Thursday, HP didn't even want to put WebOS into smartphones and tablets. The platform has been cast adrift just a year after HP completed its $1.2bn purchase of Palm. While it works out what to do with WebOS, HP is canning …

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Facepalm

Picture rendered on a Mac.

nuff said.

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Pint

Talk about biased...

Hilarious Apple fanboi fiction...

so WebOS couldn't keep up with Apple's "breakneck speed of innovation"? You are really full of it...

Apple doesn't even have widgets yet, after how many years? And their hardware prowess is limited to shiny casings, the components don't really compare well to other options. But Apple is hands-down the best at generating hype.

As for WebOS:

HP's CEO Apotheker is a stuffy German from SAP with large corporate software tunnel vision. He had them release WebOS on a 2-year old platform with every hope it would bomb, to give him a reason to get rid of the part of HP's business he didn't like to begin with. This says nothing about the quality of WebOS.

I am indifferent to WebOS, mind you, I'd simply like Linux on my mobile devices, so I don't have to feel like the jerks who made my device still own it, after I paid for it.

Apple's whole mobile spiel is not innovation but putting existing technologies together in a really polished way. That deserves credit, no question. But starting to compete in the courts means they'd like to stop improving their stuff and just take your money for the same old same old for a decade or two.

Since Apple put the iPhone together, their biggest 'innovative' energy has been behind up-sizing the walls around their garden, while other companies focused on improvements for users. Witness the Samsung Galaxy SII and others, if you can get your eyes opened to reality for just a moment, between the freight trains of your internal fanboi dialogue"

Lastly, while you see and wish for Android crumbling, it certainly won't be windphone7 to make that happen, cause users just aren't buying it, even though M$ has been paying Telcos to make their sales reps point customers to windphone7 devices.

I remember various phone store trips this year, where they kept trying to push windphone7 devices on me, even after I had repeatedly said I wasn't interested. They kept on coming back trying to make explanations of how it would be great "once I'd get used to it".

Usually, store clerk's interest is in selling you a contract, they could care less what phone you buy... so I know money must have changed hands to get them to exhaust themsevles trying to get me on a specific OS brand.

Obviously, I'm far from the only one where the jawboning fell on deaf ears. People don't like monopoly builders, (except Apple) and they sure didn't like being starved for fixes on old Windows Mobile for a decade, where Ballmer refused to spend a penny, cause he thought he had the market sewn up.

Slimebags they all are, looking for an easy racket.

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FAIL

"Informed technical opinion all points to a heavy defeat for Google."

Strange. Besides Orlowski, only one certain blogger keeps insisting on that, and he isn't exactly what I'd call "informed". His posts on patents have been thoroughly debunked by Groklaw, and I don't recall any of his "predictions" being right. Seems like Orlowski is the only one still giving credibility to these "analysis".

Even the American judge told Oracle to substantially reduce the claims, so I really don't see what "informed opinion" is there pointing to such a defeat for android. And, in case anyone forgot, software patents are only valid in the USA. In more civilized countries they are not recognized. So I fail to see why would google have to start charging for android, other than to make its opponents happy.

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Not about patents

Oracle vs. Google is not about patents, it's about copyright.

But otherwise, I agree. I'm not aware of any kind of particular consensus in 'informed technical opinion'. Most of the legal types I know consider that Oracle's argument essentially boils down to 'headers are copyrightable', which has been the opposite of the working assumption of the entire tech industry (F/OSS and otherwise) for two decades.

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Wasn't that SCO's argument as well?

I recall they got a sound thrashing after trying to prove that headers were copyrightable.

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Alert

Patents and copyright are only one side of the issue

The really big issue is while Apple are making billions, Google, a covetable number two in the tablet business are somehow managing to make sweet FA. this isn't seen as an issue by the tech community because getting an open source OS at no charge is always going to be seen as a good thing. But it is seen as a big issue by financial analysts who see no appreciable diversification of revenues and see competitors benefiting more than Google. The patent / copyright costs are now being seen as a net loss to Google. It is immaterial Google doesn't charge for Android and pay IP License fees to it's competitors. What financial analysts see is an even worse situation. Competitors are profiting while Google is excluded from the revenue model. In other words, the current situation is one financially indistinguishable from one where Google charge a license fee and then pay the license costs for Android to Microsoft and (coming soon) Apple. At least then Google would be in control of the revenue model. However, were that the model, it would then be all the more clear Android, though a strategic asset, is a current net financial loss for Google whilst being a benefit for Google's competitors. Google do license the Marketplace and Maps for a fee, but it isn't mandatory to take those (and competitors can fork Android if they wish). Suddenly, to financial analysts, Android remaining Open Source is looking like a belligerently hippy and naive strategy. Apple's huge profits make it apparent Google are suffering a huge opportunity cost. The Street, always has a more short-term view than the businesses seeking funds. Most business people reckon, even if you have a strategy of running a loss leader, it is always going to be a risk and you for sure don't do it if it means you will enrich your competitors before you. Google, to beat this perception, need to get real diversified revenues now and it's difficult to see how they can do that without closing Android and charging license fees.

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FAIL

Eh?

Any Java programmer can tell you Dalvik is a straight copy of Java. Android referred to it as Java internally. After Oracle sued, Google explored all the alternatives and concluded: "We should just get a Java license."

The dingbats and conspiracy theorists at Groklaw don't know the difference between patents and copyrights.

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Trollface

@AC 09:34

Florian, is that you?

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Anonymous Coward

LOL... nice troll....

Like the average (i.e. 'Any') Java programmer knowing the JVM source is like the average airline-traveller knowing how to build and fly the plane they're on.

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Holmes

@AC Eh?

I'm a Java programmer, and I can tell you that Dalvik is not a straight copy of Java. That fundamentally misses the point of the whole thing. Dalvik is a VM. It uses the apache harmony class library.

Java can refer to 3 different things, its a language, a virtual machine, and a 'platform' (read, the VM combined with a class library)

Android uses some of Java the language, it does not use Java the VM.

It implements the basic syntax of Java, and also includes implementations of a subset of the core class library from java standard edition.

The fact that the android docs refer to Java doesn't mean its a copy, it means that you can use Java syntax. You can also (neatly) use the same APIs as well, which works nicely.

Use of these APIs is one of the problems (so I now understand). Java is a bit odd in that it doesn't actually have headers in the traditional (C/C++) sense. You take a compiled class file, and then you can introspect that to discover the available methods on the class that you can call. So, its much more dynamic than there just being 'header files'

I'll admit, I don't understand quite what the issue oracle has, as you can recreate the java API docs, and so all the 'header' information you need to code to the API, from the compiled rt.jar supplied with every jre/ jdk.

The patent issues are referring to dalvik, the copyright ones are in the class library that was mostly (there in lies the issue I think) derived from harmony

Ho hum.

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jai
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WebOS can't be all that bad

apparently it runs quite nicely on iPad2 hardware. A shame HP insisted on running on their old hardware design.

http://www.macrumors.com/2011/08/19/hps-webos-reportedly-runs-significantly-faster-on-ipad-2-than-on-touchpad/

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WTF?

Anandtech...

... thoroughly debunked that stupid theory. The dual core Qualcomm chip is more than fast enough to keep up and is certainly not half the speed of a iPad2's chip. WebOS is the problem, it's poorly optimised...

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Control comes with a price

I'm not an expert in this, but there would be significant costs to the various folk if they forked Android - at the moment all they must do is put their interface (okay, that's not a small all, I know) - maintaining the code base of their Androidesque distro would probably require a not insignificant number of man hours, and that cost would go into the phones.

Apple may not need to sue the Android tablet industry to stay ahead, it seems likely to slowly, but surely, implode.

Which would be a shame - competition is a good thing, mostly.

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You do not necessarily compete for the same customer base

There are people who want Apple, and there are people who are content with something less flashy.

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Mushroom

And...

there are people who would rather eat lit TNT sticks than buy into an Apple monopoly.

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Meego still surprisingly lively for a dead project

Last I checked (about 5 minutes ago) Meego still seemed pretty active of a corpse, Intel seems to be following through on their promises to carry on development and Meego remains a viable option for device manufacturers fleeing Android, if there are any. Both the N9 and N900 Nokia devices were well reviewed, though N9 sales will likely be limited due to lack of availability, and Nokia's abandonment of the project leaves an opening for any handset maker willing to partner with Intel.

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Partner with intel

Surely that would require fitting out your tablet/phones with intel hardware, ie atom cpu

I doubt very much that intel would be happy driving Meego on ARM too hard.

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Pint

Web OS is the escape option...

WebOS as the under pinings of a Sense UI would give HTC an alternative...

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FAIL

Payback Period

Apple takes the long term view. WebOS wasn't given decent chance - no one wanted to sink more money and affect more than one year's financial results.

CEO's do what they know best, not what's best for the company if it takes them out of their comfort zone.

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Unhappy

HP

has form on this. As an ex HP employee, I saw three significant projects that were abandoned after a single try - and two of these were making money. I suspect a combination of inflated estimates and a lack of sticking power at board level. It used not be that way. Anyone who knows anything about the inkjet printer (and other major HP programmes) will realise that it was a long hard slog to get to where HP is now - but that was under managers with some real guts.

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It's all about arse covering

Palm/WebOS was Mark Hurds baby. Apotheker has an opportunity to point and say "look, it was a bad idea, kill it" and he can step away without taking blame for its failure.

Were he to take the opposite path and continue to invest in WebOS only for it to fail later anyway it would then become his fault for not killing it off when he had the chance.

It's a gutless move but understandable nonetheless.

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WTF?

That has got to be the biggest lump...

Of steaming dinosaur turd I have ever read on here bar nothing.

Oh joy, another symbian is dead story, along with an Apple and WebOS kicking into the bargain.

The scary thing is I actually think you are serious, that winphone 7 is a viable contender. It is nowhere near. Hell, 3 months programming by a guy in his spare time and all the vaunted tiles garbage has been ported to WinMo 6.1/6.5 - yup microsoft really worked at that!

Android is not dead sadly, nor will it be while there is a market for low to medium price, dismal to low spec, crashy insecure battery munching crap. So thats secure.

Apple have got the overpriced underfeatured and locked down tighter than a ducks ass market sorted admirably.

MeeGo I strongly suspect is alot further from dead than you think. I wouldnt be in the least surprised if elopco are working on winphone 7.xx & MeeGo firmwares for the non Symbian units.

Symbian is oddly healthy for a dead OS. i wouldnt be surprised in the least if it was part of a second option approach, if WinPhone 7.xx falls flat on its ass on a landmine, which by most accounts is more than likely. It *still* has fundamental strengths in many areas and is unmatched in others. Dont know if you realise, but a lot can happen between now and 2012, let alone 2016 which is the final 'retire' date. Not to mention the promised 10 new Symbian handsets...

Microsofts offering is no more or less than tainted. Its Microsoft. Its limited, and its still reeling under the undeserved stigma of 6 onwards (6.1 and onwards were and still are viable smartphone OS). I'd venture to say between WinPhone and Symbian, Symbian is the better liked, since it seems that the chances of WinPhone being accepted rank somewhere about as good as a Russian Commissar gaining an Obergruppenfuhrer commission in the Waffen SS.

HP might as well have stocked up on kool-aid as do what they've done re WebOS. I havent seen one critical review of the phones, not one. It makes no sense whatsoever unless HP are terminally and unrecoverably ill, and we've seen little evidence of that, to the extent of it being that serious. I cant see any reasoning behind it, its as bad as the bernd pinchetsreider speech... "heres the new Rover 75, buy it now, while Rover lasts" which basically terminally damaged Rover & almost took BMW with it.

You points make no sense. Just none. What OS has the greatest installed base, its not android or iphone.. What OS's have good security models, guess what, not android or iphone. What OS's give you freedom of use of the system you *own* without let, hindrance or data mining, not android or iphone...

There is a backlash starting re data security, battery life, user freedom, stability and

quality. Android is an epic fail on 4 of 5 as is iPhone. WinPhone is an unknown quantity, but this is patchfailtastic MS after all. The OS's that can provide all the above are Symbian, MeeGo, BB and WebOS - so I dont think theyre anywhere near as dead as the Jobsian accolytes or an-drones want you to think.

I actually think Elopco have been cunning - if winphone does implode and prove to be as popular as a skunkskin thong - then theyve got a fall back strategy. More that can be said for their competitors...

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Pint

I shall drink to that.

That is all

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WTF?

Great meta-post

Your first sentence is the ideal response to the rest of it.

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WTF?

Are you serious?

"Looming in the distance is the prospect of the epic Oracle-Google court case. Informed technical opinion all points to a heavy defeat for Google."

Whose informed opinion is that then? Lewis Page's?

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IT Angle

Re: Are you serious?

It is certainly interesting that in the space of a week we've had two analysis pieces plus editorialising in the original news piece and more of the same in a piece about WebOS, plus a rant about Google not "growing up", all from the same author, all desperately trying to call doom on Android and Google. It's almost as if someone has an agenda, although we mustn't be so uncharitable to think, let alone suggest, that this might be the case.

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Lewis? Nah...

Not enough american military hardware involved for him to have any real opinion on it.

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Re: Are you serious?

Android uses "Project Harmony" an open source implementation of Java from the Apache Software Foundation.

"The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) today announced that it has reached an agreement with Sun Microsystems and members of the Java Community Process (JCP) to secure the basic right to implement Java specifications in open source", March 2002

http://jakarta.apache.org/site/jspa-agreement.html

“Oracle will work with the OpenJDK code base and the OpenJDK community like Sun did .. We will continue to develop the JDK in the open under a GPL licence", Henrik Stahl Oracle Sep 2010

http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/enterprise/361246/oracle-moves-to-calm-developer-fears

"Oracle is as committed as ever to Linux and other open platforms, and will continue to support and enhance our strong industry partnerships", Charles Phillips Oracle Jan 2009

http://www.oracle.com/us/sun/letter.html

http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20090420083210981

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Gimp

not printing

Trivial, but the governments didn't print money to support the banks, they borrowed it. That's why inflation is nowhere to be seen. I wish they would borrow and spend more.

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FAIL

Er... right.

They "borrowed" it from themselves. That some non-printing.

As to inflation nowhere to be seen? Are you trolling from a government bunker or something?

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Headmaster

Freddos

So you haven't seen the kids complaining about the cost of Freddos?

I remember when a Mars bar was 30p. More recently, my beautiful Sainsbury's Harvest Grain baps have gone from 65p for 6 to 80p for 6. More seriously, a kilo of rice is more than double what it was a couple of years ago. Not much cop for me spending twice as much on petrol to commute as on food and I can choose potatoes and pasta for staples, too, but food is a commodity with global prices and when you're in Ethiopia, or even Egypt even a little inflation makes things difficult.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/8492078/How-the-Fed-triggered-the-Arab-Spring-uprisings-in-two-easy-graphs.html

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FAIL

Epic Fail of An Article

Reading this 'article' actually reduced my intelligence. Seriously, I thought Register have more balance coverage than Apple fanboy. But apparently that's asking too much.

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And then again, maybe not...

While it seems logical enough to conclude that there will be some changes, as the smartphone market grows and matures, I'm not sure I'd just count Android out. They have more market share than anyone else these days. Google, with the acquisition of Motorola and the IBM patents, seems to have bullet proofed itself, and Oracle may have some difficulties doing much more then extracting some license fees. Or Google could just include the Java subset that they bypassed, probably doesn't matter on larger storage phones coming. One does wish that it kind of came down to the best phone OS winning, instead of all these patent wars.

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Anonymous Coward

bullet proofed?

Motorolas patents havn't stoped Microsoft and Apple from suing it, being owned by Google wont change anything there.

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Bugger!

I had hoped that with HP WebOS would mature into something useful. Surely someone could have harnessed the legacy of Palm software (of which there is both a great deal and real utility).

I was waiting for something to replace my Tungsten with (I have an Android 'phone, but it simply doesn't do what my PDA does - and is horribly slow at that).

I wonder if ex-Palm people are still around .....

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Years ago

I said that while the design-by-committee approach worked for, say, an OS a la BSD or language a la Perl, it didn't work with a user interface a la Gnome. That's where Apple is king, their UI may not be perfect but it is consistent and well thought out and, whatever its faults it, reflects one vision on how things should work. I don't think "hodge podge" is used to describe OS X's user interface.

Apparently we now have even more proof of this.

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FAIL

Überfail

That's what HP is. They had a golden opportunity and they just … failed. Big time. Even IF someone has the mercy to pick up webOS (and it deserves to be out there, it's a nice little thing) it will be forever until hardware is available. I now suffer from smartphone depression. First Nokia FAILS with the E7 and now this. It's pathetic.

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It's the APIs Stupid

The reason why all these mobile OS have failed so badly is because of the Language/APIs they decide to push. If you look at Andriod, and from recent emails made public from the Oracle/Google lawsuit it's was/is clear there isn't many languages/APIs that make sense in the mobile space. Yet time and time again we see companies coming up with these new programming Languages/APIs for which no significant programming community exists. Now WebOS was JS/html/CCS based, but to make that work, they had to build proprietary APIs which of couse few developers are going to take the time to learn if there wasn't a big uptake of the hardware. I see the same thing with BlackBerry new OS: Adobe Air ???? Why?

It's pretty much Java and Object C for now, since that's where you have the biggest developer pool exists.

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Go

They now need an alternative to android

All the manufacturers need a back up WebOS is worthless now, but a deal with samsung LiMo and canonical with their commitment to ARM could tip the balance. Linux has always been behind on the desktop because of the lack of drivers but a tablet or phone doesn't need this. Neither apple nor android have solved the printer driver problem but linux and the usb stack is a lot more mature, so they could end up with the killer feature e.g. being able to print with a patent unencumbered os. The major problem for tablets has been competing with apple on cost but with the software costs reduced to negligible and no licensing to microsoft like htc has done, it opens up new pathways to cheaper more functional devices.

Attach a bluetooth keyboard and it takes the Atrix concept further and really consign the PC to the dustbin.

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Pint

The world is scary

The world is scary, and for the top brass at HP the only safe haven is ink.

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Fold?

If the folks at HP are poker players, then perhaps $1.x is enough. Put the cards face down on the table and watch the other players pony up and lose?

This comes on the heels of the Motorola intended purchase that might turn into a bidding war yet. I still expect that Nokia is going to get grabbed before the BUILD. Perhaps HP threw the cards down just a bit early, but this is going to be an epic fight nonetheless. Maybe they know a little more than we do.

Maybe I am wrong. It is all speculation. Why would HP punk out? Why would Google charge in to block Microsoft? Google + Motorola = OEM good-bye. WTF?

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Why?

"Why would HP punk out?"

Apotheker's not a hardware guy, let alone a consumer guy. He's going to focus on his former customers, from when he was at SAP. The sorts of people who use Autonomy.

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Leo is a Rabid Dog

They folded because HP has yet another psycho sitting in the CEO's chair. Who cares that he speaks 5 languages? He's a rabid dog that should be locked out of any board room. I thought Carly was incompetent, but Leo takes the cake.

Its one thing to kill the WebOS (hardware) development at HP, but they should have made that move months ago before the Veer and Touchpad hit markets, or they should have spent more money and time to try and actually sell some product. Their marketing launches were pathetic and then Leo pontificates about how they just didn't sell. And this dude is supposed to be a salesman/marketing guru.

All of this is bad enough, but hey its just $1.2 billion down the drain plus subsequent costs of development to kill your predecessors pet project. But Leo wasn't satisfied with a minor bloodletting, they had to announce that they are getting ready to shoot their cash cow. When the #1 PC maker in the world announces that they want out of the game, its amazing how the stock goes down isn't it?

I'm probably wrong. Leo is probably a secret blackbelt programmer who has single handidly developed killer enterprise software the last few months that will unseat Oracle and SAP. Wait, aren't those two strategic partners with HP for servers? Might as well shoot your other foot off while your at it Leo. With a little more decline in stock he probably couldn't afford the cost of the second bullet though.

I am curious to see if anyone does pick up WebOS. With Google's move this past week I could see HTC or Samsung considering picking up the pieces.

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Unhappy

Startling waste of money

Not two months ago HP were trying to get every employee to buy a Touchpad. Those that were daft enough have just about unwrapped them as they go end of life.

Even as late as Tuesday of this week they announced the names of those who won a chance to be drafted to London to develop their own App ideas. On Thursday they glibly announced that they've written off a $2Bn investment when they finally realised that you can't flog replica Apple kit for Apple original prices.

That's $9k per employee. Yet all they will get this year is a hard luck story about how HP cant afford pay rises again.

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Pay rises?

What are they? I'm sure that the brass will still get their options and bonus though.

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Meego

"Symbian, Meego and WebOS have all either been mothballed or have been given a termination date."

This is incorrect. Nokia is not releasing any Meego handsets beyond the N9/N950, but Meego is not mothballed, not does it have a termination date; Intel's still full steam ahead on it. Publicly, anyway.

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Facepalm

And I bet

You think this the year Linux will take over the desktop as well.

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fch

full steam ahead ...

Maybe so, but that kettle is heated by candle. Thinking about how much steam there ever has been behind the project. Compared to the "all in" on WP7 by Nokia, it seems rather like generating steam by burning a tealight, vs. generating steam by burning your platform ... oops, sorry, the latter case would generate vapour.

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If there is

a desktop in 10 years time, it'll be an FDO of some kind.

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FAIL

$99 for a touchpad at bestbuy / futureshop

toast

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