HP cans WebOS 2 updates for older Palms
'I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further'
WebOS fans are up in arms after HP admitted that older Palm-branded products will not gain the access to the updated operating system that will ship with the upcoming Veer and Pre 3 smartphones.
It won't be the first time a manufacturer has frozen out older hardware - Apple's original iPhone can't be officially upgraded to iOS 4, and that's just one example out of many - but Palm fans seem particularly peeved.
They have a point. When HP announced WebOS 2.0, it promised: "The WebOS 2.0 update will be delivered to existing customers in the coming months, with exact timing to be announced at a later date."
According to HP's Palm support site this morning, only the recently released Pre 2 has updates available for WebOS 2.x. All the others - the orginal Pre, the Pixi and their 'Plus' successors - are at 1.x.
HP's answer, relayed by fansite PreCentral, is that it can't get the new features to run smoothly on the old hardware, which isn't an unreasonable argument - had HP not said it would port the updates to old products.
But undoubtedly HP really hopes that existing Pre and Pixi owners will upgrade their harware to Pre 3 and Veer, just as many iPhone owners moved after a couple of years to the iPhone 3GS or the iPhone 4.
And with a mere two per cent of the US smartphone market - and almost certainly a lot less elsewhere - it needs to encourage sales if it wants WebOS to be as loved by consumers and app developers as iOs, Android and even Windows Phone 7. ®
Encouraging people to upgrade? More like encouraging people to upgrade to iOS or Android (not that the latter will get any updates either). The people that are bothered by this are the people that make smartphone recommendations to their friends, don't forget.
This was one of the main selling points of WebOS I think, at least with the techie crowd - fine the OS was new but it would get better and your phone was very likely to be upgraded. It's not surprising that a company like HP don't want to support perpetual free software upgrades but without them I can see people picking other options.
Existing customers bring you new customers.
" ... it needs to encourage sales if it wants WebOS to be as loved by consumers ..."
It also needs to love it's customers if it want to encourage sales. In a market where everyone immediately thinks of Android or iOS, it's their existing customers that will say consider WebOS if they are treated well.
Foot ... aim ... shoot.
Get with the Program
HP obviously didn't get the memo that states before it's ok to screw over your customers, you need to get into a position of market dominance.
When open source is not really open source
That's what happens with all these pseudo-open platforms such as Android and webOS. They might be based on Linux - but the amount of control exerted by the manufacturer is far beyond what we know as the Linux environment in the x86 world. You don't see regular pc's released by manufacturers with the inability to upgrade the OS embedded in them (although, I'm sure the manufacturers would love that).
That is why, in spite of it's shortcomings, I still use x86 in everything that I can. Give me a tablet with the new Z6xx Atom inside - with (hopefully) 10 hours real battery - and 3G integrated - and I will be happy to use it as my portable device and even phone (through SIP over 3G if I have to) - and upgrade whichever software component in it I want when I want it.
Anything else is just a single use device designed for manufacturers to make as much profits as possible - while being as useless as possible to me so I can upgrade again and again.
I have a Pre and I think this is simply absurd, we were sold the Pre on the promise that there would always be regular updates and the platform would only get better. At the beginning of the Pre's life we had an update every 2-3 months and then nothing for a very long time. It was assumed that Web OS 2.0 would be ported and Palm themselves said they would create ports over the next few months, and finally after all that we get nothing.
I definitely won't be buying a new Palm - what's to say that the Pre 3 will stop being supported when a Pre 4 comes out?