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Start Up Study - webOS phones and tablets
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Old 02/29/2012, 02:41 PM   #21 (permalink)
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An interesting reading... if I may, I'll offer my 2 cents.

The applications are what indeed decrees the success of a platform, and this is undisputed. It's also undisputed that there are high costs to migrate key applications to a new platform, or to convince a company to invest to do it.

Now, my 2 cents...

The key feature of WebOS, for me, is the OS itself, the user interface, the way the processes are handled, the way synergy is handled. Sorry for saying this but... forget about porting applications to WebOS... just make sure that you can run in full all the Android apps out there.

A superior user experience, a better integration, a more sleek ui.. and the ability to run every app that all the android fans are accustomed to. This way you steal that user base, and you remove a lot of porting costs..
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Old 02/29/2012, 05:12 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Thank you all for the contribution, I'm really hopeful that this ends up the way I imagined it.

Anyway just to state my vision and where I want to take this, let me answer some questions that will clarify it:

1- What size of startup this will/could be?

1% market share in the first year after launch. What does that mean? In 2011 (according to Gartner Inc.) the total number of smartphones (sold) was 107,740,400; so 1% would be 1 million units roughly.
Honestly even this number, I think, is very conservative; if the key success factors were met (I will take about them later in this post)

2- What would you do different? Why webOS didn't takeoff before?

This is the 1.2 Billion dollar Question! Let’s start with the SECOND part of the question: why webOS didn't take off?
Go back to 2009 when the pre was introduced. At that point, the "new" smartphone market was beginning to mature. People wanted an iPhone alternative, and an Android challenger. What people got in that event was a phone that appealed to a small fraction of the wrong consumer segment. Meaning, Palm wanted potential iPhone buyers to consider the pre, instead, they got a fraction of that segment, and leftover consumers from different segments. So what went wrong? Below is what I think the major factors:

• The hardware was crap. People didn’t want a keyboard (or at least the people PALM targeted!), so the product mix was wrong from the beginning. In addition to the poor build quality of course. Oh as for the Pixi, it was a feature phone with a smart phone price tag (No Wifi!, Really)

• The Software was/is majestic! Whoever came up with the idea of cards is genius, it is the best solution out there for the current generation of smartphones (you think smartphones will look like this forever? ) . HOWEVER, API’s were delayed, some popular and trending apps were impossible to port because of the technical limitation of the OS. I know some devs wanted to port things into the new OS in 2009, and take the first arrival advantage but they couldn’t.

• The pace of development was extremely slow! The market was moving fast, 2 steps at a time, and palm barley moved a step a year after the launch event (That’s 2010 people, the year of higher res screens, dual-core, etc.)
• Marketing was horrible. The launch campaign was really bad, creepy, and I think only God understood what they’re trying to say (to be fair, some of them were OK. But the entire campaign was bad)

• Sprint! Nothing to add here except T-Mobile would’ve been a better option!
Now the FIRST part of the Question: What would you do different?

To ensure a successful (re)launch of webOS, couple of things must happen. Without them you’ll never succeed:

• Hardware: must be a touchscreen only device. The consumer has spoken, and its idiocy to fight the mass trend. This device needs to be with the latest specs.

• Software: must be, at least, able to run all apps. Must be as capable as other OS’s out there. All missing API’s should be available, SDK must be up to industry standards.

• Marketing should focus on why webOS is more efficient, not how connected or that it has apps! All OS’s are connected and has apps. webOS on the other hand in efficient, easier, will make you more productive (gesture area, wave launcher, full swipe to switch apps, app management, etc.). One more thing, you can never sell synergy in a 30 sec ad, that’s the job of a “well trained” rep.

This way you establish a clear competitive advantage, and this advantage is hard to overcome. If you convince people that webOS is the best UI solution out there, and it will make your life more efficient; you’ll lock in that in the consumer mind and they will never want to leave you. So, our competitive advantage is superior UI and usability. APPS are a given (or should be), no one will look at you if you don’t have them in this time and age.

For sure I have much more details on how to execute and what strategy should be followed
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Old 02/29/2012, 06:26 PM   #23 (permalink)
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I am pretty new to webOS. got my TP in the internal HP sale late last year. Only touch screen experience I had was with my Samsung SGH A817. took if from my daughter cause she just could not figure out how to use it. Dont use it for data just as a cell but i can pretty much tell that its is not well designed, -os - that is. Not intuitive, hard to use the virtual keyboard with multiple apps, flaky but at least it answers calls and sends txt messages.

I was amazed at how well the TP sync with my Yahoo Mail and Facebook accounts. Like the wireless - in home network - att hotspots and other public networks. TP finds them easily and no problem connecting. So in using it as a Persoan Assistant and small game platform it works very well.

So, I have installed Preware and moderately patched it. Got some more games and like some of the "upn" networking Apps. Fun to browse my network and see my stuff, pictures, videos and songs. I have not expereinced any major failures with it. Have to reboot occasionally but always had to do that with my PC any way. Connectivity issues are no different on the TP than on any current PC. dont have anhy MAC/Apple experience so can really comment on that. I like the OS, I like the Cards and Multitasking and slowly but sureley I will attempt to do some coding and app development.

I also have a Nook Color. Nice little machine. Flaky as hell slow as hell hundreds of app I or my wife will never use. Wife now reads almost ten fold more than she did before, listens to smooth jazz, uses the alarm clock but uses her Laptop to go shopping (ugg)

so my real point here is, not a developer, not a tech geek, just a immediate user that lkes to play around with stuff.

The TP gives me all that without major headache. The $99 dollar price was excellent and the primary reason I was able to buy it. Would have just stuck with one of 4 pc and one server otherwise. Might have been able to go for $499 with a good income tax refund but probably not cause HP pulled it.

The Nook was on sale on QVC 4 easy payments, thats the only reason I was able to get that one.

Give us a device that does the basic stuff well, Syncs with eMail, Facebook or anyother social network. Give us a good eReader dont mind paying .99 cents for books, lots of them out there and also lots of free ones. I will never use most of the apps currently available for either the Nook or the TP but they both fill a nice niche in my middle class environment.

I will keep both units alive as long as I can, and when a price effective unit with more functionality comes out, I will seriously consider it.

Point the High End stuff at the Enterprise, the Medical Field and specialty apps. Give them basic connectivity, sycronization with most of the fluff gone. Its really What can you do for me here are my basic requirements, and I will consider paying for the fluff as add ons.

Just some feedback from just plain user.
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Old 02/29/2012, 07:43 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbasrawi View Post
This way you establish a clear competitive advantage, and this advantage is hard to overcome. If you convince people that webOS is the best UI solution out there, and it will make your life more efficient; you’ll lock in that in the consumer mind and they will never want to leave you. So, our competitive advantage is superior UI and usability. APPS are a given (or should be), no one will look at you if you don’t have them in this time and age.

For sure I have much more details on how to execute and what strategy should be followed
It's a good start, but it's not enough...and I think you'll realize this as you seem well clued in to whats going on. A couple years ago, it would have been. Maybe even last year what you've described above would have been good enough. But it's not good enough for right now, and assuming it's going to take at least a year for a market ready device to be produced it's going to be even more inadequate by the time you get a device to market.

The reason I say this is that right now, when most people think of getting a tablet or smartphone, they automatically think iOS or Android - they have the the mindshare. Your device is going to have to overcome that, which means that being just as good but a bit more intuitive and easier to use is not going to be enough to get appreciable numbers of users to take a gamble on it - that 1% can be an amazingly elusive target to achieve. You have to be as good in all the areas that matter to the majority of people shopping for a device, and have something extra as well; superior UI alone will not cut it, and you can't even be sure that by the time you have actual hardware to put in people's hands the webOS UI will still be that much superior - Apple and Google will surely keep improving theirs.

Another negative that your device is going to have to overcome is if it doesn't have a brand name that people are familiar with and confident about on it. You can have 2 absolutely identical tablets, slap a Samsung logo on one and a Huawei logo on the other, drop the price on the Huawei by 10 percent, and the Samsung will still far outsell the HUawei because people will automatically think the Samsung will be more reliable, and that it'll be a more smooth and pain-free experience to get it fixed or replaced if it does break.

A company like HP can bring a "just as good as" device to market and capture a 1% market share. They could have done that with the TP, but unfortunately it wasn't just as good - it didn't have the apps, wasn't optimized enough for performance, was plastic, heavier, and then the marketing failed to higlight its strengths. With that done, the only way they achieved the 1% was to slash the price to firesale levels and take a huge loss. It could be argued that they could have cut the price less drastically and taken a smaller loss that could have been made up on Apps and accessories, but that's neither here nor there - the point is that a startup company that wants to break even on its hardware is going to have to bring something special to the table to achieve that 1%.

Now, the something special can't be pricing because you can't get the same price breaks the major players get on the components you need to match their performance - your tablet is going to cost more to build per unit than theirs will, and the support and everything else is going to cost you much more to provide than it costs them because they have better economies of scale. Even if you manage to arrange for major retail distribution, the terms the retailer signs with you are going to be less favorable than the ones they have with Apple and Samsung etc simply because you're a start up and they know they can get away with it as you need them, they don't need you.

So when all that is put into the mix, you're going to find your device prices are going to have to be close to the competition in order for you to break even. *Maybe* you might be able to come in a little lower, but certainly not low enough to spark the demand that lets you achieve 1% market share. You're going to need some kind of killer feature, something innovative that really sets your product apart. For example, Asus announced their Padfone system - a phone that docks with a display accessory to become a tablet that docks with another accessory to become a laptop. I'm not saying that this is going to take off and revolutionize the market, I'm just throwing it out there to illustrate that you're going to have to come up with a big idea like that - either in the hardware, the software, the way your device works with the cloud, or something. That's the only way you're going to achieve 1% as a startup.
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Old 02/29/2012, 08:39 PM   #25 (permalink)
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They always say creep before you walk. How about at first not trying for mass production and carriers and such, but say unlocked limited edition phones for webos enthusiasts that would cost more than it would with carrier subsidies and see how that goes.
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Old 03/01/2012, 04:25 PM   #26 (permalink)
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OP,
Why on earth must you bother us with a false hope ?

Here is my advice,
  1. Have HP commit to remove the software lag throughout the system ( its tough till we get GPU support for HTML5)
  2. See if you can release a slab phone with 4.3 inch, which should be super slick and sturdy,,,, again "super slick and sturdy", no one should return these phones back to manufacture
  3. Release a stretched out Bigger screen Pixi similar to BB Porsche

Once you get momentum think about the Pre form factor.

You do have a real shot at making money If you choose a smaller market , preferably asian countries , Malasia Hong Kong even middle east . The device should be a premium device with mutli-tasking as the selling point.
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Old 03/01/2012, 06:30 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbp View Post
OP,
Why on earth must you bother us with a false hope ?

Here is my advice,
  1. Have HP commit to remove the software lag throughout the system ( its tough till we get GPU support for HTML5)
  2. See if you can release a slab phone with 4.3 inch, which should be super slick and sturdy,,,, again "super slick and sturdy", no one should return these phones back to manufacture
  3. Release a stretched out Bigger screen Pixi similar to BB Porsche

Once you get momentum think about the Pre form factor.

You do have a real shot at making money If you choose a smaller market , preferably asian countries , Malasia Hong Kong even middle east . The device should be a premium device with mutli-tasking as the selling point.
Where phones are concerned, I'd suggest the following:

1) Battery life needs to last a full day at least - people shouldn't have to worry that they forgot to bring their charger with them, so you're going to have to strike a good balance between battery life, screen size and bulk. Battery should be swappable so people can have a spare if they want.

2) 3G is on it's way out, it'll need to have 4G LTE to be competitive.

3) Web browser needs to be fully functional, and not a stripped down made for phone browser. People shouldn't have to worry about whether will be able to properly view a particular website because they are accessing it from their phone. Now that Adobe is backing away from flash for mobile this complicates things a bit.more though

4) Phone should use standard connectors (USB port, headset jack). No proprietary nonsense for the sake of extorting money from people please.

5) Phone must be able to output to TV or monitor in HD

6) Keyboard - I think the majority of consumers have spoken pretty clearly that they don't need a physical keyboard, but business users and heavy email/texters seem to still want one, so you might need to have models with and without, or offer a keyboard accessory that the phone can dock with without adding too much bulk.

7) Good resolution camera, and having a flash is mandatory, because unlike tablets people actually really need to be able to take decent photos with their phones. Of course a lower resolution camera needs to be there for video chat as well (would be good if this one could be better than the bargain basement sucky 1.3 megapixel ones so many phones use).

8) Don't forget that making phone calls is still a very important function for a phone. Call quality needs to be very good, the antenna and radios need to be high quality so calls are clear and don't suffer from excessive dropouts.

9) Construction - if you go for plastic instead of metal, make it easy for replacement parts that might break to be swapped out. Ideally, the swapping should be something the average user can do, and the parts should be available at reasonable prices. Don't hold your customers hostage by forcing them to return devices and pay a $70 to $100 service fee for simple repairs they could do by themselves if they could only get the parts.
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