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webOS: The Plan
View Poll Results: Would you regularly give money to a community effort to support and develop webOS?
No, Never 21 10.61%
Yes, I'd start giving right away 76 38.38%
Yes, but only after I saw some results 101 51.01%
Voters: 198. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 01/06/2012, 01:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Derek Kessler hit the nail on the head with an article that he posted shortly after HP's announcement that they are open sourcing webOS. It all boils down to The Plan, and the fact is that the decision to open source webOS is not a plan. I find myself wondering whether HP is really putting a plan together for webOS, or whether releasing it to open source was simply determined to be the most cost effective way for them to extricate themselves from the mess they found themselves in, while salvaging what little goodwill they could from the webOS user base?

In addition to that cynical thought, I'm also forced to face the reality that even when HP was seriously motivated to make the most of webOS, they mismanaged it to such an alarming degree that I now find it hard to believe that any plans they devise at this point have much hope of resulting in anything but a slow painful death as webOS fades into obscurity. That's not something that I want to see happen, and from the posts I have been reading on here over the past few months, I realize that's not something that the majority of readers of webOS Nation want to see happen either, not even those who have declared it as inevitable and said their goodbyes.

A few months ago, a few daring posters floated the idea that the community should band together to save webOS by attempting to purchase it from HP. My assessment was that it would be impossible - we would never have been able to come up with the money HP would want for it plus the money it would take to continue development. But now, HP is basically giving it to us - a 1.5 billion dollar gift. The inescapable truth though is that webOS will fare even worse under our community ownership than it did under HP's ownership unless we organize ourselves and make plans on what we're going to do with it. Make no mistake - if we just sit back and wait until it is released, and then sit back and wait for Internals and Homebrew Developers to do stuff with it, it will fizzle and die.

In order for webOS to survive, grow, and hopefully THRIVE, we need to come up with a community plan for it - a plan in which we ALL play our part and do whatever it is that we can do. Although much of what will need to be done is technical, there is also a lot of other stuff that the average consumer can do as well - stuff that is just as, if not even more, important. Also, we need to start putting this plan together now, and have it ready for the day HP releases source code. We need all be ready, and know exactly what each of us are going to do from that day forward that will contribute to moving webOS forward. For some it will involve downloading and working on source code, for some it will involve coordinating with whatever personnel HP decides to commit to the open source effort, for others it may simply be sending out a few emails to let people know about it. Everyone's actions can be effective and accomplish something important if we coordinate.


Our plan will need to address the following areas (this is NOT a comprehensive list):


The launch
What things need to be done immediately following the release of source code?

Bug fixes
There are a number of annoying bugs and usability issues that HP never addressed that we will need to

New feature development
By the time the source code is released, the other OS's will have received or will soon be receiving updates. webOS will need to be refreshed in order to remain relevant. This will need to be a carefully managed process to ensure stability and backwards compatibility is maintained.

App development
Many remain convinced that a major contributor to webOS's failure was the lack of enough quality apps. We need to have a plan in place to tackle this, whether this involves implementing an Android App player or providing resources to encourage new developers to get involved with creating software for webOS.

Hardware
By this time next year (and possibly much sooner), our TP's and Pre's will be obsolete compared to the hardware available for other platforms. Even if that did not happen, the supply of new devices we still see on eBay will have dried up, so how will people who decide they want to use webOS get a webOS device? We will need to get webOS onto new hardware sporting current specs. Whether that will mean porting webOS to dual-boot on other tablets and phones on the market, or developing new hardware specifically for webOS, or both, is something we will have to discuss and decide on.

Marketing
How will we get the word out re webOS and why people should use it? Who will it be targeted towards? Will we create our own official branded webOS distribution? Will it be distributed free or will there be a charge?

Support
How will new users unfamiliar with webOS have their questions answered and get assistance getting their problems resolved? With HP's warranty having expired, where will users be able to send their devices for repairs?

Money
Unless we have a generous mega billionaire among us that we're not aware of, we're going to have to raise a lot of money along the way - thousands of dollars to start with, and millions of dollars over time.

Make no mistake, this will be a huge undertaking. However, it is not insurmountable - if enough of us get together we could really do this. This of course leads to the inevitable question - are you on-board for this?
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Old 01/06/2012, 02:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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While the community at large can actually do a lot once the source code is available, the viability of webOS as a platform will largely depend on a few large scale hardware manufacturers adopting is as a platform. Right now there are three platforms vying for the third OS spot behind iOS and Android. BlackBerry still has the largest market share, but is in a nosedive. Windows Phone is being actively pushed, but really doesn't have significantly greater market share than webOS, which (as much as it pains me to say) is on extreme measures life support.

It is admittedly hard to see webOS coming out as the final winner of the third position OS (honestly more plausible to see the the industry consolidating on 2 OSes); however, not much in this sector has played out to what seemed most plausible over the last decade, or so. 3 years ago the iPhone looked unstoppable, now iOS is actually in second place to Android. 5 years ago BlackBerry looked like it could ride the business sector demand forever, now it's in a death spiral. Ten years ago Palm was an icon, now it doesn't exist.

Moreover, plenty has happened of late to make a space for a competitor to arise. With Jobs' passing it remains to be seen if Apple can keep its "cool" factor and plenty of its products are well due for major refreshes. The MS and Google agreements with phone manufacturers put non-favored manufacturers in a dubious position. Perhaps most importantly, we've seen that Samsung is really the only manufacturer truly being successful as an Android shop. Bottomline, an opening exists, but whether webOS can rise to the occasion remains to be seen.

I see two fronts for webOS future advancement. The first, which the community really can't do much about, requires HP to be a solid advocate for webOS. They'll need to commit to trying to build something off this platform and work to bring a phone manufacturer (or two, or three) into the fold (logical possibilities would be RIMM, HTC, or Sony). Also, they'll need to put significant resources into the cause. Along with actual money, we need commitments from HP properties to build something on the webOS platform (ie snapfish, melodeo, etc. all should at least have high quality webOS apps).

Now, what the community can do is make webOS the best platform on which to build and be its tribe of advocates in the culture. The former is the priority initially. The OS will need to allow firms to differentiate, but still provide a fundamentally consistent experience for the end user. Think of it like the auto industry, cars are different enough that Ford, BMW and Buick can all differentiate their products, but there's only a minimal learning curve when you slide into any car. The big issue (and common to any such project), hence HP's focus on making sure govenance is strong and established well, will be identifying priorities and recruiting resources to address them and developing a process for things to be incorporated into the core OS. Certainly webOSnation.com and the devoted community which is still here will have a role to play, but a the exact form will largely depend on the exact license and governance structure established for this project.

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Old 01/06/2012, 04:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Who, exactly, are you suggesting people give money to?

People didn't give money when there was a huge company behind webOS, why would they give money now? This P|C community is great, but it is tiny. The biggest problem is that no matter how big, nor how motivated this community is the one thing they can't do is the one thing that webOS needs to be anything more than a hobbyist os: produce high quality hardware on a large scale.
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Old 01/06/2012, 04:48 PM   #4 (permalink)
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the viability of webOS as a platform will largely depend on a few large scale hardware manufacturers adopting is as a platform.
What would motivate them to do that though? Maybe if ICS fails to live up to the hype where usability is concerned...but even then, they could just drop their own interface layer on top of it? Why would a manufacturer pass up the benefits of basing a product on a stable, established ecosystem and work with a struggling one that they don't actually own?

I suppose it would get them a great deal of media attention - the media would be climbing all over themselves to cover it. But then the scrutiny of the device would be intense - it would have to deliver in a big way to keep from being ripped to shreds in the press. Anything less than a great unit would be called a disappointment.

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I see two fronts for webOS future advancement. The first, which the community really can't do much about, requires HP to be a solid advocate for webOS. They'll need to commit to trying to build something off this platform and work to bring a phone manufacturer (or two, or three) into the fold (logical possibilities would be RIM, HTC, or Sony). Also, they'll need to put significant resources into the cause. Along with actual money, we need commitments from HP properties to build something on the webOS platform (ie snapfish, melodeo, etc. all should at least have high quality webOS apps).
I think we can probably expect HP to advocate by trying to bring manufacturers into the fold. Anything beyond that, such as putting resources into building more apps, I'm not sure.

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The big issue (and common to any such project), hence HP's focus on making sure govenance is strong and established well, will be identifying priorities and recruiting resources to address them and developing a process for things to be incorporated into the core OS. Certainly webOSnation.com and the devoted community which is still here will have a role to play, but a the exact form will largely depend on the exact license and governance structure established for this project.
Yes, I think HP will probably remain in the role of gatekeeper, exercising control over what changes and additions it permits to become part of the core kernel. But I'm reasonably sure they're not going to exert the tight control that Google exerts on Android; that would require them to continue investing money at levels they want to get away from.
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Old 01/06/2012, 05:26 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Who, exactly, are you suggesting people give money to?
I'm not a lawyer, but I think the best way would be to start a non-profit Foundation, something akin to the Apache Foundation that manages open source efforts like Apache web server, Tomcat, etc.

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People didn't give money when there was a huge company behind webOS, why would they give money now?
well, people shouldn't have given money when HP was behind webOS. HP was in business to make a profit - they weren't running webOS for our benefit. Also, we didn't have a say in the decisions made regarding webOS - we will now.

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The biggest problem is that no matter how big, nor how motivated this community is the one thing they can't do is the one thing that webOS needs to be anything more than a hobbyist os: produce high quality hardware on a large scale.
First of all, we might not have to get involved in hardware, there is still a possibility that a big manufacturer may be interested in webOS as a plan B alternative to their Android efforts.

HOWEVER, if we were to need to get hardware built, there is a whole industry of companies that specialize in working with small companies to develop prototypes in very small numbers. It's not cheap, but it's not entirely out of reach either. These prototypes are then used to secure the investment needed to mass produce actual products for the market using the Foxconns of the world, or the design is licensed to brand names who simply give it a name, slap on their logo and sell it as their own.

This sort of thing is done all the time - you'd be surprised to discover how many products there are on the market that were only tweaked a bit by the companies that sell them - the actual core design and development is often done by some other company that you will never hear about.
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Old 01/06/2012, 07:07 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The plan is already set. HP will post the code on github, people will take the code and create. If you donate, it should go toward WebOS Internals as they will probably be the first organization to release public ports to different devices.
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Old 01/06/2012, 07:33 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The plan is already set. HP will post the code on github, people will take the code and create. If you donate, it should go toward WebOS Internals as they will probably be the first organization to release public ports to different devices.
But what you're describing is not a plan, it's people playing around as a hobby. If webOS is going to survive as a product that we can continue to use as our main OS on our tablets and phones, won't the efforts need to be a good deal more thought out, organized, and focused than that?

The aim here is for webOS to be much more than just a novelty OS that we boot into once a month when we're feeling nostalgic.
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Old 01/06/2012, 07:48 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I don't see it happening. If you want to give money to the cause i can't begrudge you. Go for it I say, "Good luck." But the biggest computer company spent more on all this stuff then you could dream of raising and it didn't work. I see no plan just a lot of questions like App? "We need a plan in place to tackle that." Big companies make apps often by contract or because it benefits them. if they wouldn't do it before i don't see them doing it now. I just see questions and no real plan. You got a long uphill climb with no cold weather gear, no oxygen and no map.

But i'll say hey, good luck to you. I wish you well.
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Old 01/06/2012, 09:15 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I see no plan just a lot of questions like App? "We need a plan in place to tackle that." Big companies make apps often by contract or because it benefits them. if they wouldn't do it before i don't see them doing it now. I just see questions and no real plan.
What you're seeing is exactly my point. There is no plan right now, which is why we need to put one together. There is no chance of anything really beneficial coming out of the open sourcing without a good plan in place.
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Old 01/06/2012, 09:29 PM   #10 (permalink)
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HP is the one should come up with plan, not us. If HP is going to put all the responsibility on the customers, it will fail. Doesn't matter how good the plan is, if HP doesn't have one, open source webOS won't survive.
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Old 01/06/2012, 09:36 PM   #11 (permalink)
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well, people shouldn't have given money when HP was behind webOS. HP was in business to make a profit - they weren't running webOS for our benefit. Also, we didn't have a say in the decisions made regarding webOS - we will now.
This is exactly my point though. If one of the largest computer companies on the face of the earth could not make a go of webOS when they were trying to make a profit, how in the heck can a non-profit organization expect to do anything with it?

You're right, we may not have had a say, but I will tell you that engineers who get paid bucket loads of money did. I guess I just don't see it. I still think that HP didn't want to admit to the world that it wasted several billion (with a b) dollars on something and could not make it work. So, rather than just shut it down, they are going to try to dump it into the magical open source world and expect it to flourish. I just don't see that happening.
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Old 01/06/2012, 11:24 PM   #12 (permalink)
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This is exactly my point though. If one of the largest computer companies on the face of the earth could not make a go of webOS when they were trying to make a profit, how in the heck can a non-profit organization expect to do anything with it?

You're right, we may not have had a say, but I will tell you that engineers who get paid bucket loads of money did. I guess I just don't see it. I still think that HP didn't want to admit to the world that it wasted several billion (with a b) dollars on something and could not make it work. So, rather than just shut it down, they are going to try to dump it into the magical open source world and expect it to flourish. I just don't see that happening.
While I struggle to see how this can (will?) come together, I applaud the OP's notion that we as a community need to prepare for the day when webOS is released "to the wild."

I guess I don't see that HP ever was really invested in turning a profit from webOS. It seemed like the company bought Palm under one leader, but when he was drummed out and the next one took over, the Palm/webOS acquisition did not fit into the "new" vision for HP...and webOS was left to flounder, with ridiculously ineffective, nearly absent marketing, and no real push to find ways to leverage HP's influence potential to give webOS a real fighting chance. I often wonder how different things might have been had Mark Hurd not been forced out (probably a topic for another thread).

I honestly don't see HP doing anything much more with webOS. If webOS is to survive, then I believe it will be because of the efforts of this community. And the first step in that effort should be a plan.

I don't pretend to know how to develop such a plan, but I am more than willing to participate in whatever way I can to help this effort along.
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Old 01/06/2012, 11:35 PM   #13 (permalink)
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the biggest computer company spent more on all this stuff then you could dream of raising and it didn't work.
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This is exactly my point though. If one of the largest computer companies on the face of the earth could not make a go of webOS when they were trying to make a profit, how in the heck can a non-profit organization expect to do anything with it?

You're right, we may not have had a say, but I will tell you that engineers who get paid bucket loads of money did. I guess I just don't see it.
The thing is, there are several reasons why it didn't work, and none of them have anything to do with the amount of money HP spent.

Take the TouchPad for example:
Premium iPad level pricing, but it's case is made of plastic that flexes so much that a lot of the units develop cracks, units had logging turned on by default so they were running much slower than when you turn it off, no Netflix and Hulu apps, advertising so terrible that the only thing I can remember about it is Russell Brand had long hair and a crazy expression, bargain basement webcam grade camera, copy and paste process so clunky that it is sometimes almost unusable, no arrow keys to allow you to move the cursor.

These missteps had nothing to do with money, or engineering challenges. These were just stupid decisions that a company makes when it is out of touch with what is important to the people it is trying to sell to. Look at the ridiculously vague and uninformative advertisement that launched the Pre (http://www.webosnation.com/first-pal...mpaign-rollout) and contrast it to Apple's "There's an App for that" campaign. Whose ad makes you just want their phone? It's even worse than RIM's ridiculous Playbook campaign that seemed to be thinking ppl would buy it over an iPad simply because it played Abobe Flash. Which brilliant 6 figure salary advertising guru thought that would work?

Look back at the history of webOS and you see a string of bad decisions that created unnecessary obstacles for the platform to overcome. And it's not just a case of hindsight being 20/20 vision, because if you read the comments from people on the forums back then, you see people saying the same things that we are today. The regular community folks could see the mistakes that were being made, but the geniuses with the billion dollar budget couldn't.
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Old 01/07/2012, 12:12 AM   #14 (permalink)
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HP is the one should come up with plan, not us. If HP is going to put all the responsibility on the customers, it will fail. Doesn't matter how good the plan is, if HP doesn't have one, open source webOS won't survive.
One more thing (I realize this is turning into a bit or a rant, but I have to get this out).

Do you remember the first time you held an iPhone, an iPad or a Macbook Air? I sure do. I remember being struck by the beauty of it - the seamless appearance, the aluminum, the simple elegance of the design. There was a sense that we shouldn't be able to have that yet, a feeling that Jobs had a time machine in his office in Cupertino and was sending designs back to himself from 10 years in the future. That feeling alone makes people automatically willing to pay more for the device, because we are human and emotion does influence our decision making.

How can you possibly expect to price your somewhat plain-jane TouchPad the same as the iPad 2, knowing that it is not going to elicit that same visceral reaction, knowing that it is less capable, and knowing that both devices are going to be just a few steps apart from each other in the local Best Buy? That makes absolutely no sense - it's lunacy, right? So can we really expect that the group of people who made that decision are going to be able to make the right decisions regarding the direction of open source webOS?

I say no. If open source webOS is going to make waves, it's going to do so as a result of the ideas and plans that we as a community put together and implement, not as a result of the ones coming out of HP. They have the book-smarts and the technology, but we're the ones that have the street-smarts and the vision.
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Old 01/07/2012, 01:28 AM   #15 (permalink)
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My point is WE are not the ones making a plan. The people we will leech software from are the ones who will make a plan. If anybody thinks WebOS will be more than a novelty doesn't realize the real place it has been put in. HTC, Samsung, Motorola, Asus, Sony, even the Chinese guys aren't willing to spend money on an OS they just cannot make money off of. The only apps that has been news worthy is Project Macaw. I hate to be a downer (and trust me, I don't want to be one) but WebOS will be the software people install on their iPhone or Galaxy Nexus when they have spare time on their hands and are bored. I know WebOS has potential but apps ARE a big thing whether people want to believe it or not. I'm using WP7 and while I would KILL for a Pre 3, I really do feel that neglect. It feels like your isolated from the world when you use WebOS. Open Source just won't attract attention. Yes, the attention it deserves, but it has always deserved that attention and never got it. iOS, Android, and even WP7 are far ahead of WebOS. They have now taken WebOS features and ran with them, to their success. If you look at WebOS you can feel the lack of polish. The choppy animations don't help either. I'm sure somebody will compile a ROM, style it, and give it some "pizazz" which will surely garner some attention, but manufacturers aren't risking their money for the mobile OS "that didn't". HTC's profits are down, Samsung is making bank on Android, so why would they build a device for WebOS? HTC can't afford to right now, and has said in the past they have no plans to, and Samsung executives probably don't even know what WebOS is.

The best chance we have is with WebOS Internals. I guarantee they are already thinking of the best way to go about this open source business better than anybody here could. Your gesture was incredibly noble and very thoughtful, but other people are in control, not us :-(
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Old 01/07/2012, 01:39 AM   #16 (permalink)
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ok- lets leave the "we can't do this" people out of this thread.

seriously, why are you even posting in this thread???

you are detracting from the purpose of the original post.

there weree plenty of stupid decisions and mistakes going around re: webos.

it failed. Period.

its now open source, and has a chance of survival, however slim. There's always a market for people who don't want the status quo, who get tired/bored of the standard, and who want something different. This is where webos (and of course any other OS) comes in.

a company like htc or samsung may someday take a chance on webos...same for some smaller company...

you can never say never.

it is will this ray of hope that webos will survive. Even if I move on to another platform I will always support any webos open source initiative, with the hope that one day it will make a comeback. Its that good.
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Old 01/07/2012, 03:51 AM   #17 (permalink)
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It indeed misses some apps and that is where the problem lies in the first place (yes, some bugs too, but nothing is bug-free).
I'll pay money to support dev of webOS, but also to devs willing to create an app I like (and I mean money, not just 2.99,money as in 10, 20, etc.). I do opt for non-PDK, but any app is welcome.
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Old 01/07/2012, 08:28 AM   #18 (permalink)
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we can't block out the naysayers though, and that's probably a good thing, because there will be times when we need them. This isn't going to be a 1-2-3 we're done project, it's going to be a huge undertaking in some respects, and there are going to be times when some of us are pulling our hair out saying "just why did I agree to be involved in this?".

Naysayers will force us to remain grounded, and take critical looks at ill-conceived decisions we might otherwise make. I only ask that the criticism be constructive and informed, because that will actually help us.

Rather than just saying "you cant do hardware, only a huge company can do hardware", we need people who will say something like "I spoke to this friend of mine who works with Motorola, and he says that while you can contract with a tech design firm to do the hardware, designing a tablet computer for webOS from scratch will easily cost you $10 million, plus $20K to build each prototype - how on earth would you raise that much money?".

A statement like that helps the project, and lets us look at whether we can raise the $10 million, and if not, whether we can take an alternative route like licensing an existing design from another manufacturer and customizing it at a cost of only $1 million plus a $5 royalty for each device sold.

Please note that I just made up these numbers on the spot, it's not actually based on any real research, so don't be jumping in to say "it's more like $20 million!" This is just for the sake of illustration.
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Old 01/07/2012, 08:59 AM   #19 (permalink)
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yes- constructive criticism is much needed.
but not people who come here saying webos failed because of xyz, and will continue to fail because of xyz so there's no point in supporting the open source project.
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Old 01/07/2012, 09:02 AM   #20 (permalink)
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a good way to start may be to find out whom to contact at small and large companies re: potential hardware...and then send a twit-a-thon, or customer petition re: the interest in webos hardware. We have won various online surveys so I have no doubt webos faithful can drum up support.
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