Monday, May 03, 2010

HP Takes Over Palm

HP Buys Palm

For the past 18 years, Palm has been the little company that could. Despite having been a frontrunner of innovation in PDAs starting with the Palm Pilot and creating the first true mainstream smartphone in the Treo 650, Palm lost its way in the past few years and now finds itself in the hands of HP in a $1.2 billion deal. It's not technically a done deal yet, but it's pretty much sure to complete. You can see Rubinstein's letter to the company here. It sounds like HP is not only interested in Palm's huge patent portfolio but also keeping webOS alive with more smartphones and possibly tablets. Given the strong indications that the HP Slate tablet based on Windows 7 has been killed, it makes it more clear why HP would want Palm. The iPad's sales are, ostensibly, exposing a market for tablets not concerned with the power of a full computer but rather interested in the easy UI, something that webOS could definitely provide.

While I'm not sold on there being a very big market for tablets in general, I do think it's a good thing that HP bought Palm. HP hasn't made the best hardware decisions in the world, but they do have a lot of cash. Assuming that they don't fire a bunch of people from Palm, which I think is unlikely given that their interest in webOS, I believe they're ultimately going to re-think how they market the next webOS-based phone and pump a lot more into R&D for future iterations than Palm could afford to. Ultimately, if HP can't make webOS viable than no one can. I still believe that webOS has a decent base of developer support and a pretty stable platform - we just need new hardware to get people excited about and it needs to be available on multiple carriers.

Apple's War on Flash Continues

Once again, the media has really overblown Apple's dismissal of Flash on the iPhone. As a result, Steve Jobs has actually written an open letter explaining why there are are no plans to support Flash on the iPhone or iPad, and this has made the debate even more heated between those who agree with Jobs and those who think that Apple is being an evil purveyor of their closed garden. The letter actually has a number of good points, the best in my opinion being that Flash wasn't designed with touch interfaces in mind. There is no rollover event with touch like there is with a mouse, and that's actually a commonly used event in Flash. However, as good as those points are, the letter is ultimately just a MacGuffin. The real reason that the iPhone won't support Flash is the same reason Apple removed arrow keys from the Macintosh keyboard: Apple wants people to re-write their applications better to provide a quality experience for their customers. Plus, it gives them more control over the platform if they dictate the rules than if they allow Flash to dictate rules, as well.

Personally, I thought it was silly for Jobs to write this letter. Whatever the reason is for Apple not wanting Flash on the iPhone, they can do whatever they want. This shouldn't be a shock to anyone. The iPhone has always been a walled garden. That's not necessarily a terrible thing, especially given how strong sales are for the iPhone, but the fact of the matter is that it has always given Apple the precedent to do what they want.

Adobe countered quickly via an interview with the Wall Street Journal and seem to be taking things rather personal. Ultimately, they believe that the letter spreads lies and that Adobe's vision is a multi-platform technology whereas Jobs wants applications to only be developed for their walled garden. Take it with a grain of salt, but Adobe has a video on Vimeo claiming that Flash has better performance than HTML 5, even on mobile phones. We should be able to see for ourselves once Flash hits webOS, Blackberry, and Android 2.2 later this year. This is really going to be a make or break year for Adobe. If this Flash release flops, as I'm afraid it may given its push backs, Flash may begin a downward spiral as HTML 5 becomes the only viable game in town for mobile devices.

Google's Foray into TV

Google was linked to a couple of interesting television stories last week. First, it was discovered that Google has added TV episode search. Then, Wall Street Jounal's sources revealed that Google is going to be announcing TV set-top box software this month. It doesn't seem to provide anything new compared to what TiVo or Boxee offers right now, but the announcement has yet to be officially made.

Possibly more interesting: Verizon FiOS will now offer YouTube and Internet radio right on its users' TV screens. They're first cable provider that's actually embracing YouTube instead of fearing it. Then again, their huge push for laying fiber in the past few years has been more progressive than most of its competitors.

Broadband Access

Sometimes Slate can really hit it out of the park. They responded to a quote from the Verizon CEO claiming that U.S. broadband is #1 in the world with an article explaining that the US is ranked 15th in broadband penetration, has some of the highest prices per bandwidth, and competition is often a duopoly. To make matters worse, broadband rates are often mis-advertised. It's a good sobering read and a reminder that we need to encourage the FCC to take action.

Final Notes

Alright, I've been distracted all night but I really need to get to bed now so it's time to wrap up.

Microsoft's security intelligence report last week revealed that most attacks on Vista and Windows 7 systems are against third-party applications rather than Windows itself.

By this time next month, Lala will be dead. It's a travesty, but not totally unsurprising since Lala has never been profitable and Apple really bought Lala for the talent.

Microsoft has confirmed the Courier, their secret folding tablet, and announced that they have nipped it. It looked cool but must not have been feasible.

The guy who sold the iPhone HD that was found has been discovered and claims he wishes he turned in the phone to the bar owners now instead of being a jerk and selling it to Gizmodo. Even though he's probably not technically a thief, I think he was way unethical.

Apparently Microsoft has had a running comic on people's real life IT stories.

Comcast has won Consmerists' infamous "Worst Company in America" award. Congrats, you've earned it.

This is a great resource for helping develop cross-browser compatible websites.

Have a great week!

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