Thinking about the TouchPad and Nokia and a possible second HP go-'round with tablets reminded me why I was so angry with Palm and how HP managed to keep that anger alive.
A number of years ago I decided it was time to replace my aging Palm IIIx. It had been a trusty device but I needed something which could be more of a replacement for my laptop in times when carrying my laptop was not really practical or just cumbersome.
I first picked up a Palm TX which ran the new Garnet operating system. It was quite functional, fast, and had great media capabilities. What it lacked, however, was WPA. At the time all of the new wireless I was rolling out was WPA (or maybe it was WPA2, the memory fails but whichever it was the TX did not support it.) I called Palm to ask them about the missing wireless standard and was told there were no plans to support it on the TX and that I should look at the Palm LifeDrive. The LifeDrive was a few clams more, but an interesting device and it supported the wireless standard I needed.
The Palm LifeDrive is, taken for just the hardware, an impressive piece of kit for the time. A 4GB CF form-factor micro-drive, a large touch screen, rather nice built-in sound, a 400MHz XScale CPU, Bluetooth, wireless, SD card slot, and a newer Garnet OS than the TX. With the Bluetooth I could "tether" to my phone to get Internet access when no wireless was available (something the TouchPad is unable to do unless you "tether" to a WebOS phone) and with a couple of inexpensive applications I was able to convert full DVDs to watch in the device, and DocumentsToGo was a breeze to work with business documents I needed.
But the operating system was abysmal. Garnet was PalmOS. And it crashed. A lot. Often. Frequently. Always when I needed it not to crash. It was mostly unusable and I simply could not rely on it. Palm issued a 2.0 update around Christmas of that year and within a couple of months afterward the device support was silently discontinue, or at least the lack of competent support made it appear that way. In six months this really sweet device was rendered into a $500 paper-weight.
Enter HP. I was quite impressed by WebOS inherited by HP, but my bad experience with Palm as a manufacturer coupled with the recent massive loss of quality kept me away. Being purchased by HP gave me hope that things would change, and by the time the TouchPad was finally released I had been considering a tablet but was not happy with the options at the time, which were for the most part iPad or an Android-based tablet. Neither one whets my whistle for various reasons. But WebOS, now here is an operating system and interface I like, my customers like, and I rather enjoy supporting. Given many months wait from announcement to release I had been able to make my decision, though unable (perhaps unwilling) so drop $500-ish on the device at its launch. Giving it time to experience a price drop was probably one of my few good ideas.
To be fair to HP, I purchased by TouchPad during the fire sale after the discontinuation announcement, so I knew what I was getting into. I had high hopes that HP would realize how the TouchPad could be a viable platform if it would also realize that you cannot sell a non-iPad device at iPad pricing. $300 was the sweet-spot for the 32GB TouchPad on eBay, and it would take a good plan to make it a go. Obviously events did not transpire as such, WebOS is, by various insider reports, a tangled mess internally, amongst other issues. Had I adopted the TouchPad at release, after being keenly interested since its announcement several months prior, I would have been scorned again by the Palm Curse.
That said, I like my TouchPad for what it is. At least it boots, which is more than I can say for the LifeDrive. The reality for me is that I cannot see HP making a go at another device. At least not doing so with my support. The smell of the Palm Curse is just too heavy right now.
Paris, once bitten, twice shy.