“Smallest, most powerful smartphone on the market”. This is how Jon Rubinstein, former SVP & GM of Palm Global Business, HP described it when it came out mid 2011. That was before Leo Apotheker, former HP CEO decided he knows best what “not to do” and killed the entire Palm division they acquired in 2010 for 1.2 billion dollars (More: http://www.webosnation.com/mckinney-hp-was-supposed-leave-palm-alone-three-years-lacked-patience-innovation). He almost put HP out of the PC hardware business but has been fortunately stopped and replaced by Meg Whitman. She wasn’t able to revert his decision but at least she decided to make WebOS (the operating system of the HP-re-branded Palm phones) available as open-source. HP won’t release any new smartphones though.
I thought that this might be actually a good moment to get a Linux-based WebOS smartphone on eBay. When it came out it sold for about 400 Euro. I got a used one for about 70 Euro on eBay about a month ago. What’s my verdict?
- It IS really powerful. The Veer can even handle 3D games like Ground Effect.
- The UI of WebOS is one of the most intuitive I have even seen.
- It’s small but that’s actually an advantage as you can put it in your pocket.
- The camera takes very good photos in my opinion.
- The slide-out-keyboard is small but actually it’s easy to type on it.
- The connector free charging dock is absolutely awesome. The Veer turns in to a fancy table clock on it.
- The App Catalog offers enough apps to keep you entertained (inc. Facebook, 3rd party Twitter apps like phnx and many games).
- The browser manages to display websites very well on such a small screen. Multi-Touch scaling works flawlessly.
- Batter life is very short with about one day.
- New games like Angry Birds Space are not released on WebOS. Other developers drop support too.
- No carrier updates (at least not in Europe) of the WebOS 2.1 (2.4 manual update is possible though).
- Some integrations like the Yahoo! login for Mail & Messenger are broken.
- Google Maps app is broken since Google changed something but there is Bing maps that works though.
- Facebook changed something as well. They promote https usage and this is causing images not to show up. You can revert this manually in your Facebook settings though.
The HP Veer is an awesome small piece of hardware and great software.
This of course makes me think that killing Palm was one of dumbest decisions in the recent history of silicon valley! HP would just need to find the right price segment for this mobile hardware and it would sell like hotcakes.
Just if you wonder who this Jon “Ruby” Rubinstein guy is? He’s the father of the Apple iPod (More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Rubinstein). On the photo above holding a HP Veer that was (or still is) his primary phone. (More: http://www.webosnation.com/rubinstein-veer-pre-3-touchpad).