For him it was a dark passage which led to nowhere, then to nowhere, then again to nowhere, once again to nowhere, always and forever to nowhere, heavy on the elbows in the earth to nowhere, dark, never any end to nowhere, hung on all time always to unknowing nowhere, this time and again for always to nowhere, now not to be borne once again always and to nowhere, now beyond all bearing up, up, up and into nowhere, suddenly, scaldingly, holdingly all nowhere gone and time absolutely still and they were both there, time having stopped and he felt the earth move out and away from under them. – Ernest Hemingway, For Whom The Bell Tolls (1940)
It is quite sad that the history of webOS has come to parallel the juxtaposing experiences of emotional and physical control that Hemingway’s Robert Jordan character experienced in the above quote. And like the above quote, webOS was a conflicted lovemaking experience that spanned the course of a few years until HP finally sucked the last ounce of life from it and let it whiter away slowly and silently. The Guardian reports that HP’s new head honcho Meg Whitman has decided to keep HP’s PC business instead of spinning it off as former CEO Leo Apotheker had planned. The inevitable result of that decision is that HP needs to downsize its PC division and have a narrower product focus to bring that division’s profit margins back up. Unfortunately, that means that Whitman has decided to shut down the webOS division.
The Guardian claims that HP will be laying off most of its webOS employees while a small number gets reassigned to other divisions within the company. Around 500 jobs are expected to be lost by November and the webOS project is to be put to rest. There was hope that webOS would be picked up by another company such as HTC or Sony, both which hinted vaguely at being interested, but both of those plans hit a dead-end. HP acquired Palm in April 2010 for $1.2 billion and launched the webOS powered HP TouchPad this past summer. After scathing reviews and less than satisfactory sales, HP tried to offload its TouchPad stock with a series of fire sales, hinting that the tablet had a glum future. It now appears that webOS update 3.0.4 will also be its last.
However, if you purchased an HP TouchPad hoping to get updates for the long run, there still is another option. The CyanogenMod team is hard at work at porting over a stable release of Android to the TouchPad which is now in its alpha stages. Although the webOS app catalog will become stagnant (it wasn’t anything to be impressed with anyway), the Android alternative can bring new life to your TouchPad along with a bustling app market and continuous updates and support from the Cyanogen team. You can keep an eye on Cyanogen’s progress here at their forum but the current public release is extremely unstable and buggy and is not at all close to being a stable port. As of now they are working on getting Gingerbread running on the TouchPad but that may change if Google releases the source code for Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich.
If you’re running a Pre or a Pixi or a Veer, you have our sympathies. Although there have been instances of Android shown off on the latest Pre, there’s no official support or stable release as of yet. Perhaps this news may change that soon…