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31Aug/11Off

WebOS device sales still hectic

TechOps Guy: Nate

HP announced recently they are going to manufacture another round of Touchpads to meet more demand, and limit one TP per customer. Best Buy has also been selling TPs with a limit of one per customer.

You can see in the Precentral Forums as well as the Palm Developer forums the frustration by the existing user base that many are not able to get their hands on hardware.

The limit per customer should help get TPs in to more hands without having to resort to the scalping market, though many folks wanted to buy a couple extras as gifts. One is better than none..

While the Touchpad continues to make headlines with the fire sale what hasn't made any headlines is the desperate struggle many users are going through to try to get their hands on the HP Pre3 which was released in Europe mere days before the big HP announcement that they were getting out of hardware.

My own experience mimics that of many others, I put in an order to a UK reseller on the 20th whom appeared to have stock on hand. It took a few days to get past their security checks but I got past them, and then they went to go to their distributor to get stock (they apparently had none at the time), and their distributor told them they couldn't have any stock, someone upstream (maybe HP, maybe another carrier the speculation runs wild) has blocked it. So the company refunded my money and that of many others who ordered. Unfortunately this took until Thursday of last week to find out I was not going to be getting Pre3s from this company.

So I set out on a quest to find Pre3s from someone else, every place I came across said no stock, there was talk about the Palm Eurostore selling Pre3s, BUT they only require both that your billing and shipping addresses are in Europe. No shipping to the US.

There is a UK reseller mobiles.co.uk which is requiring all orders be shipped to the UK. They accept US billing and shipping addresses but have canceled every order that had one after the order was placed.

There are people trying to order from expansys.fr over in France whom have a stock of AZERTY based Pre3s (I had never heard of AZERTY until then), but their shipping forms do not list U.S. as an option (I think people have tried anyways not sure of results). I have seen other stories of people in Asia getting their orders canceled by expansys.fr with the company directing those users to the Asian version of the site (which has no Pre3s of course). While it's apparently not hard to change the keyboard layout in the phone itself, there is still the physical keyboard where the keys won't be right once the mapping is changed. But users are willing to make the compromise in order to get their hands on the device (I would too if they'd ship to the US). I was about to order from them when I saw the billing address had no place to put a state. Only City, Country, and street address. Also no mention of U.S. shipping options, so it seemed pretty clear to me that they weren't going to ship my order so I didn't submit it.

So I began searching Ebay and came across another company KICK MOBILE over in the UK and I ordered a pair of Pre3s from them last Thursday morning. I emailed them later asking if they really did have stock because the last place did not, they said they are sold out *right now* but are 99.9% confident they will get 100 units the following day. The people/person at Kick Mobile has been very nice and friendly. Unfortunately Friday came and mostly went and Kick Mobile sent out an update saying they have not gotten stock yet but have confirmed their upstream supplier has 100 units set aside for them (out of 1500 units on hand), and they are still highly confident they will get them because Kick Mobiles is doing them a favor in buying a couple hundred older Blackberry phones to liquidate. They said they won't know for certain until the end of this month or maybe the 1st or 2nd of September. The upstream supplier was waiting for authorization to release the units to the resellers.

I haven't gotten an update directly yet (have not asked) but did see someone else post an update from them saying that Kick Mobiles no longer has confidence they will get that stock, though the final nail is not in the coffin yet (probably will be in the next 24 hours though).

What's more frustrating is that Kick Mobile mentioned if I had placed the order a mere 24 hours earlier I would of gotten the phones. Getting the bad news back from the first reseller took too long!

I don't blame any of the resellers they are all doing everything (or have done) they can to try to get the product to the desperate customers and have done a great job.

So yesterday I went on Ebay again and found a pair of Pre3s from what appears to be an end user who had two of them, and I immediately hit the buy it now button to buy one. I'm normally not one who likes to use auction sites I don't know why I just don't feel comfortable doing it but at the moment if I want a Pre3 (and I want one as you can clearly see) I have little choice at this point, it seems as time goes on there are fewer and fewer available, even though there is good information that says there are at least hundreds to thousands being held up in warehouses with an uncertain future. You can probably bet there are hundreds to thousands of AT&T and Verizon branded Pre3s as well which people speculate may just be outright destroyed rather than sold.

With each attempt to buy a Pre3 the unit price has gone up by roughly $125. There's one report of someone paying over $900 for one.

There have been rumors of a fire sale of Pre3s as well but so far very few have been able to get them at those prices, even the official Palm Eurostore says they were not able to resell at those prices and in fact is unable to get more stock and is canceling all outstanding orders and not accepting new orders. Not a good sign. Contrary to initial beliefs the Eurostore is not directly affiliated with HP or Palm but is a 3rd party reseller like most others. From their web site

Update Wed 31st Aug 15:00 :
From the contacts we initiated since last Friday ;
- We have cancelled and refunded all orders where we received notification to cancel.
- We have shipped all orders for those people we had contacted and who accepted the order for a single unit at the standard/agreed price.
- We are still awaiting response from some of the people we contacted
We are now going to set a deadline of midday (BST) on Thursday 1st Sep. A final reminder email has gone out to these people. We will have no option but to cancel those orders after that point if we have not heard back from them.

The European Pre3 only works on one of the two AT&T 3G frequencies, so will be crippled to some degree(mainly when used in doors), by contrast I read that the way T-mobile uses their frequencies the Pre3 would have no 3G coverage at all. T-mobile apparently uses one frequency for upstream and one for downstream, AT&T has both frequencies available for up and down.

I'll take what I can get though, assuming I can get the Pre3. I got a Pre2 in yesterday (can't use it yet because I don't have a SIM card). Was supposed to get a Veer (with AT&T SIM) yesterday, but fedex screwed me on the delivery claiming my address was wrong and before I could pick the package up at the local facility shipped it back to AT&T.  I have another Fedex package coming from HP today with a Touchpad and some accessories in it, will see if they screw up again. I've recieved a lot of UPS and USPS packages at my address so I know it's right, it is a new address, the building has only existed for about 1.5 years but hard to believe Fedex hasn't delivered a package here before, there's a couple hundred people living here.

While the initial reviews of the Pre3 are very positive at least from the WebOS community(which is biased of course), they are not suitable devices for the general public in the U.S. as you will have to jump through hoops and stuff to use them due to the frequency differences and general lack of support. But for more hard core technical users it's clear it's by far the best phone to come out of Palm since the first Pre launched back in 2009.

In case your wondering why I have been trying so hard to get my hands on a Pre 3. Well part of it as I have mentioned in the past is, for several different personal reasons (won't elaborate again here), I won't really go near a Android, iOS or Windows mobile device for myself at least. The Pre2 and Pre3 will keep me on a platform I like for a while to come until I need to make a decision about where to go at that point. I've been using a feature phone from Sanyo for the past 8 months while I waited for the Pre3 to be released. It's an OK phone, I like that I don't have to charge it often, though it's not as nice as the Sanyo phones I used to have, the software is quite different, and in general not as good.  It may be because the phone might just be Sanyo in name since they were bought by Kyocera (the phone itself says Sanyo by Kyrocera) Though I guess one thing I will be able to finally test without being too paranoid is how rugged this rugged phone really is, your supposed to be able to completely submerge it in water and have it be OK. I'll finally test that out!

Meanwhile my order for 4 Touchpad 16GBs which was accepted by HP's systems on August 21st at 2AM (26 hours before their cutoff period for canceling orders) is still pending shipment, I assume they are out of stock now. The order status page says it is in an "Admin" state. My 2nd order  was processed before my first which I thought was unusual. My 2nd order is the 5th Touchpad with accessories, in order to secure a discount on accessories I had to buy another TP. I was in such a hurry to buy the original Touchpads I did not pay attention to accessories or discounts on the 21st as I was busy fighting server errors on HP's side.

My original Palm Pre, which has been disconnected from the Sprint network for 8 months did something unusual on Monday - it showed I had a new voice mail. I checked my normal Sprint phone it too said I had a voice mail. I would not of expected the Pre to show that (it never has before). Just because I was curious I tried to check the voice mail on the Pre and got a message from Sprint saying my account could not be verified. So clearly the phone wasn't authorized to operate on Sprint anymore, must've been some sort of temporary hole opened in the Sprint network which allowed the phone to log in for a moment and detect the new voice mail.

I only wish management at HP cared enough to handle this whole situation better in the first place. I do feel sorry for the entire WebOS division (hardware+software), including the leadership who were just as blindsided by this as everyone else. I can't imagine the stress the leadership is under to try to maintain morale at this point.

Over 2,000 words for this post, not bad.

19Aug/11Off

Touchpad fire sale starts tomorrow

TechOps Guy: Nate

UPDATED HP has apparently given their partners notice to liquidate everything - 16GB Touchpads will go for $99, and 32GB go for $149 according to Pre Central.

 

HP Touchpad

Sale starts tomorrow apparently, I will go get some 16GBs myself, 3? 4?  5? Not sure yet..

Even if you use it for nothing other than web browsing (or watching video) it's a nice device. Pair it with a Touchstone (I love the Touchstone technology) and you got yourself a high resolution picture frame that can do far more for about the same cost as a 1024x768 standalone frame. I assume the accessories for the Touchpad will be dirt cheap as well.

Beats the hell out of a fire sale Android tablet I saw on Daily Steals recently.

Apparently some users in Europe received the Pre3 already, so they have manufactured  some, hopefully I can get my hands on a couple.

UPDATE - I visited about a dozen stores in the bay area none of them had any Touchpads in stock this morning. Best Buy is refusing to participate in the fire sale and I think supply is generally constrained. I suspect mostly what is happening is most stores probably have single digit numbers of Touchpads in stock, I'd be surprised if in many cases employees weren't buying some of those right away, then all it takes is one or two customers to consume the remainder of the stock. More than one place I went to today had others like me racing around the area trying to find stock.

Thought it was kind of funny, one of the office supply stores - forgot which - had little advertisements with the reduced pricing (though for them it was $129 for the 16GB), and said good from now till the end of the year while supplies last - only the supplies didn't even last through the first morning.

I read many similar stories on Pre Central in other parts of the country. Then I saw a link mentioning the HP SMB store had Touchpads available for order (the "Home" store lists them as out of stock).

So I tried to order -- and was confronted with out of memory errors on the HP servers

again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and

I'll save you the next 100 lines of that, and just say I was pretty persistant, working for more than two hours to try to get an order through. Not long after I started I found that Firefox and Seamonkey which I normally use in Linux was not rendering the billing address page on HP's site, I suspect the page was somehow broken because HP's servers are in a hissy fit at the moment. So I tried Opera - fortunately Opera was able to render the page. After trying again and again and again and.. I finally got an order confirmed for 4 x 16GB Touchpads for $99/ea.

I hope HP honors it, I suspect they will have enough to ship given the massive numbers of units they will be receiving from Best buy (apparently something like 250,000 units).

Woohoo.

Though earlier today I was really thinking to myself it really would of been nice if HP had given preferential treatment to those early adopters, give them the opportunity to buy more before the rest of the public. I suppose there wasn't any time, and possibly wasn't anyone around that cared enough to try to arrange something like that. I just hate the idea that small numbers of people may be able to buy large numbers of touchpads (I saw one report of a person buying 35 of them at once), and trying to profit off of it on eBay (reminds me of a lady that mortgaged her home and tried to buy every iPhone at a store one day only to be told she was only allowed to buy one). For me I will use one of the four for work use only, at least two more will likely be gifts for family I think they will like them a lot, and the 4th I haven't figured out yet, probably a spare unit or something, since HP apparently is not going to honor warranties on these units (though I believe they are honoring them on the ones sold at full price).

Since I was in such a rush to order - I'm contemplating trying to go through the process again to get a 32GB touchpad - so I can return it to best buy for $599 (what I paid for my current TP). I thought about just returning my current one but migrating the data and stuff would be a pain - and I know my current TP works great - there's always a chance that a replacement might have a glitch.

Best buy extended the return period for Touchpad to 60 days, which gives me about 11 days if I wanted to return mine.

UPDATE 2 Just checked and HP charged my CC .. so I should be good to go

UPDATE 3 Best buy changed their policy again and is allowing customers to buy 1 per customer while supplies last, reports seem to be stores selling out within minutes or stores haven't gotten the word yet, Best buy removed the SKUs from their systems and are having to put them back in again. See more info here. Looks like they'll refund the difference in price for my launch day 32GB TP, just need to find that receipt...

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18Aug/11Off

RIP: WebOS

TechOps Guy: Nate

UPDATED I have been a user of WebOS based devices for a couple of years now, I bought a Palm Pre in late 2009, and a Touchpad on launch day. WebOS in general has been a pretty good user experience, it worked quite well from a functional perspective in my view. The devices weren't the fastest(though since I really never used any others I had little frame of reference), I think mainly to the web-centric nature of the OS instead of running mostly native code.

The Pre was my first Palm-branded product, though I did own a couple of Handspring Visors for a long time.

WebOS seems to have been, for the most part widely praised from a user friendliness angle from a wide selection  of folks, though that alone wasn't enough to carry the platform forward for HP.

Myself, I had a firm belief that HP was committed to the platform for the long run - at least 2-4 years before making any decisions about the future. Primarily because of the situation of the market. With Microsoft, Nokia, and RIM all struggling in one way or another, and wide fragmentation of Android leading to, from what I've read, poor user experiences on the platforms (granted there are probably some really good ones but given the number of Android devices it appears most of them are pretty bad). There was, and still is room for someone to play in the space with a unique product offering.

I can only assume the new leadership at HP just didn't agree with the previous leadership which is too bad. I mean it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize it's going to take multiple billions of dollars of investment to build up such an ecosystem, you don't need an army of consultants and market analysts to figure that one out. Unfortunately for Palm, WebOS, and the user base the new management didn't want to commit to the platform in the way they needed to in order to drive it.

The best comparison I have I think is perhaps Microsoft - they have been in the mobile phone space in one form or another for more than a decade, and they have low single digit market share to show for it -- but they haven't given up (and it looks like they won't either). I felt that same level of commitment from HP early on, unfortunately I guess the folks that make the big decisions decided to change their mind and cut their losses(either that or the people that make the big decisions themselves got changed out).

It wouldn't surprise me if the current HP management wouldn't of been willing to pay the $3 billion for 3PAR either if they had that opportunity today. Well I'm glad HP has 3PAR -- if for nothing else it kept them out of the hands of Dell. Their quarterly report today mentioned "triple digit growth" for the 3PAR platform, which in general is kind of confusing - I mean it seems most everyone is reporting massive storage growth -- this can't all be net new storage -- someone has to be at the losing end of it -- who ? HDS ? IBM ? (I haven't noticed either talk too much about growth but I haven't tried to look for their comments either). Maybe in 3PAR's case most of their growth is at the expense of EVA(which should just go away), I haven't tried to find details. From the folks I know at 3PAR it certainly seems like they can't keep up with demand.

The news that they are killing WebOS is quite sad to me, it was a platform with a lot of promise, it just needed more work - I have no doubt they were short handed and rushed to market with many things which hurt them -- but it was a choice, either release something now, as a sort of stop gap, or wait 6-12 or maybe even 18 months and release something good. You lose either way (at least until you have a polished end-to-end system) but I think the strategy they chose they "lost" less. You have to keep the news coming, the products coming etc.

I plan to keep my Touchpad myself, and if I see a fire sale on them will probably pick up more, it's a good device, I've been using it pretty much daily for casual use since I bought it and really have very few complaints (even before the 3.0.2 OS upgrade).

If the Pre3 does come out in some form (un clear whether or not they ever manufactured it), I'll try to pick up one/more of those as well - I'd assume no carriers will sign on to sell it, so the only way to really use it would be unlocked, on a GSM network. That is assuming that the device isn't a total brick. I was happy with the functionality I got on my original Pre with WebOS 1.4, in some cases I'm not hard to please (hey - I've been running Linux as my primary Desktop since ~1997 if that gives you any idea). The 64GB "4G" Touchpad was supposed to launch soon, but now who knows - I suspect the launch will get canned.

Even if HP continued WebOS development I have no doubt the Pre3 would struggle to find relevance in the market given it's late arrival. Most folks were expecting it months ago - the most recent estimations put it at mid September - right smack when the iPhone 5 is supposed to launch, as well as the free iPhone 3GS.

As time has gone on the Pre3 hardware has gone from looking really good to nothing special. Compound that with the fact that HP apparently wasn't going to use the next generation WebOS 3.0 on the Pre3, instead using the older generation of WebOS software with a completely different SDK, I suppose it wouldn't be too far fetched to say the Pre3 was going to be mostly DOA, performing no better(perhaps worse) than previous WebOS devices due to the poor timing of it's release. I have struggled to try to think of why it was taking them so long to get the Pre3 out the door, especially since they weren't going to use WebOS 3.

I'm not expecting anyone else to pick up WebOS -- instead I think others will just mimic it's functionality on their own platforms - sort of like how RIM did with the multitasking on their Playbook tablet.

What was more surprising to me in general was that tablets in general are not selling. As many people have said - there really isn't much of a tablet market out there - there is an iPad market, but not much of a tablet market. I have read things recently that seem to indicate almost all of the Android tablets are faring even worse than the HP Touchpad was - Android as an aggregate has been doing fairly well but the individual companies pitching their tablets - the sales are quite poor in general (with a couple of standout exceptions), There's gotta be what - 50+ different Android tablets on the market now?

I'm really too sad to be mad at this point, I have no regrets in buying into the platform - it's more sad about seeing such a promising platform be killed prematurely.

I suppose I should end this on a positive note -- the one thing HP did give WebOS was another chance, Palm was pretty much flat broke when HP bought them. So I thank HP for that...

UPDATE - Barely 24 hours after they kill the platform they launch the 64GB White Touchpad for a mere $599.

 

The 64GB "White" Touchpad - what they don't have Photoshop? Or maybe they just don't care.

I guess not everyone got the memo yet.

 

22Jun/11Off

Buy your HP Touchpad at…a Furniture store?

TechOps Guy: Nate

I've been a fan of WebOS since I got my Pre. Contrary to what some may believe I had never owned a Palm product prior to that. Although I do have a pair of Handspring Visors which was pretty much a better palm than palm back in the day, eventually they got bought out by Palm.

I've been awaiting the release of both the HP TouchPad and the Pre 3 for some time now. I almost pre ordered the Touchpad then figured I will just go buy it when it comes out in a local store, like most, I am not expecting a line around the block of people waiting to buy it on the first day like your typical Apple product.

For no particular reason I was browsing the Palm site (aka hpwebos.com) and saw a list of the official places you can pre order the Touchpad.

Much to my surprise, was what seems to be a big furniture store out in Nebraska. Nebraska Furniture Mart - America's Largest Home Furnishings Store.

I've never been to that part of the country so maybe it's not uncommon, maybe it's the only place people have in Nebraska to buy electronics from?

I mean of all the places to sell some new piece of technology. I realize now after looking at their site they have an electronics section(which I can't view because I declined their cookie requests), but still of all the places to launch a product.......

I look at the TouchPad myself is mainly a toy, something to play with, maybe I'll find some good uses for it with work I'm not sure. Would be nice to see support for wide ranging VPN options as well as perhaps native versions of various HP management tools (looking at you 3PAR).  To those out there that say your better off with a notebook or netbook, I agree. I already have a netbook and a notebook.