Particle Debris (wk. ending 8/19) High Tech Chess and Carnage

Now that Hewlett Packard has cancelled the hardware on which webOS runs, and that includes the TouchPad, all kinds of opportunities are coming to light. First, Samsung, which is in a patent kerfuffle with Apple might decide to abandon Android on its Galaxy Tab and move to webOS. Windows 8 for tablets is probably too far away for consideration. Also, HTC, which has to feel royally screwed by Google, is probably looking to replace Android on its phones. That might be Windows Phone 7 or webOS.

The net result of this is, I think, a big gain for Microsoft and HP’s webOS software and a handsome headache for Google. I fully expect that by next summer, Android will be found only on Motorola phones, and its market share will take a continued beating from iOS 5 and iPhone 5. At least, Google’s fragmentation problems will be over.

Next, because Motorola Mobility, soon to be owned by Google, also makes the Xoom, I wonder if Google will amp up its efforts to pit the Xoom against Apple’s iPad — or kill it. Ramping up against Apple would get them into the same trouble as Samsung right now, but Motorola is better position to defend itself with patents. In addition, with HP killing the TouchPad, Samsung taking a beating from Apple, the minuscule sales of the Xoom, and the PlayBook an utter disaster, it seems that all those expert predictions that Apple would have its market share diluted in the out years by competing tablets were just wishful thinking.

Business Chess

I am still digesting what happened at Hewlett Packard. In the meantime, I’ll just point to the best articles I’ve found. This article at ZDNet suggests that HP CEO Leo Apotheker is uncomfortable with hardware and wants to remake HP in the image of SAP — from whence he came.

The future of Todd Bradley and Jon Rubinstein at HP is discussed in this article by Kara Swisher.

TNW Insider has some of the details about the lead up to Thursday’s press conference by HP and the history and fate of HP employees involved in the webOS hardware.

What was probably the nail in the coffin was abysmal sales, reported by Arik Hesseldahl. When price cuts don’t move a wishy-washy product and the only prospect is financial loss, then action has to be taken. All the predictions we made about Apple’s great A5 processor, the appeal of iOS and the locking up of component parts percolated and cooked until launch day. Then the TouchPad collapsed.

Finally, another article from TNW Insider reveals that there were significant problems with the TouchPad hardware that limited what the engineers could do.

All in all, the picture that’s emerging is that HP was dysfunctional. The CEO wasn’t, apparently, 100 percent behind the project, the hardware wasn’t so great, developers weren’t lining up in droves, and not all parts of HP were operating at their A game level to compete with Apple.

I had high hopes for Hewlett Packard’s TouchPad. It turns out that HP isn’t the company I thought it was.

Moving on. Volumes have been written about the mentality of people in the Windows vs. Mac wars. I’ve also seen some of that in the Nikon and Canon world. Here’s an article at ars technica that explains some of the psychology: “Fanbois treat criticism of favorite brands as threat to self-image.”

I’ve seen that myself in the case of Apple’s implementation of Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR). It wasn’t as well implemented in Snow Leopard compared to say, Vista and Windows 7. So when security experts said that OS X security was poor (in that respect), Mac fans who didn’t understand the issues felt offended — then rolled the old argument that Macs have no viruses! So the experts must be wrong. Sigh…

This quick demise of the HP TouchPad had everyone comparing it to the Microsoft Kin. (Both died in 7 weeks on the market.) That got Harry McCracken thinking about other products that failed, and failed fast. Here’s a neat compendium: “Gone in Sixty Seconds: The Shortest-Lived Tech Products Ever - subtitle: Ten gadgets and services whose existences were nasty, brutish, and short.”

Finally, to lighten up your week, amidst all the wreckage in the industry, here’s perhaps the coolest new toy to ever emerge and not be created by Apple. These hightech binoculars have image stabilization, auto-focus, zoom from 0.9x to 10x and can record 1080p HD video. Didn’t Luke Skywalker use something like this? Anyway, we talk a lot about SciFi here, so forgive me for this non-Apple, awesome product. (Probably not so good for star gazing, but that remains to be seen.) Here’s anther article at CNET .