Ronnie05's Blog

12 Reasons HP`s WebOS Strategy Won`t Work

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on December 20, 2011

After a long delay that left WebOS in limbo, HP has finally decided what to do with the operating system. According to CEO Meg Whitman, HP will make the operating system open source, effectively giving it a life line and hoping that, with some help from outside developers, it can finally achieve the lofty goals Palm set out for it years ago. But whether or not HP’s decision to make WebOS an open source option for developers is a good one is up for debate. On one hand, it allows the operating system to stay in place, and it keeps people employed, which is fantastic. But on the other hand, HP had several other options available to it to make the best move possible with WebOS. And by the look of things, the company didn’t necessarily follow the right path with its decision. Here’s a look at why HP’s WebOS strategy won’t work, and why making the operating system open source could finally be the last nail in the platform’s coffin.

1. Android has the market wrapped up
Why would HP want to go up against Google’s Android platform? That operating system is open source and available to any handset maker. To add another company to the mix against the dominant force in the industry makes, well, absolutely no sense.
Perhaps the most viable recent open-source challenger to Android, MeeGo, managed to find its way onto one phone (the Nokia N9) and one netbook (the ASUS X101) from major manufacturers before being folded up, dusted out and held out to dry.

2. Consumers are just starting to use Touchpads
Why would HP want to go up against Google’s Android platform? That operating system is open source and available to any handset maker. To add another company to the mix against the dominant force in the industry makes, well, absolutely no sense.

3. Many Mobile Vendors are competitors
A key component in HP’s open-source strategy is making sure WebOS runs on devices made by other companies. The only trouble is, many of those other firms, including Dell, Acer, Asus, and others, are HP competitors in the PC market. It’s doubtful those firms will want to help HP.

4.Microsoft and Patent Lawsuits
At the same time, Microsoft has been trying dismantle other operating systems in mobile. On the Android front, it’s bringing patent-infringement claims against vendors. Now that WebOS is open source, HP could get caught up in the costly patent-infringement lawsuits impacting the mobile market right now. And that simply isn’t worth it.

5.It is viewed as a looser
The issue for HP is that even if the operating system lives on and other device makers offer it in their products, consumers still view the platform as a loser. So, when future devices hit store shelves, the chances of them succeeding seem awfully slim.

6. Apple has the best model, when it works
Admittedly, HP’s initial decision to sell its own products running an operating system that only it controlled was a good one. Apple has proven that controlling all aspects of a mobile device — software and hardware — is best for those who want a worthwhile user experience. And yet, HP has turned its back on that.

7. HP is confusing consumers
HP CEO Meg Whitman says that there is still a possibility that her company will launch new tablets in the coming years. Huh? Didn’t HP just get out of the mobile hardware business altogether? (That did sound Like McDonalds wanting to shunt out the Burger business!) The company doesn’t seem to have its entire strategy in place just yet. So, to make the decision now to turn WebOS open source might not have been the best idea.

8. Investors Hate the Idea
Shareholders like certainty. They also like to know that management understands the nature of the markets the company operates in and can make solid decisions based off that. But by making WebOS open source and basically swallowing the $1.2 billion HP bought Palm for, shareholders have seen hardly any return on that investment. And they’re not happy about it. For the record, HP has knocked of 50% of its m-cap owing to Lee Apothekar’s monkey act with WebOS.

9. It could have been a Windows alternative
Before HP made the decision to make WebOS open source, the company said that it would consider bringing the operating system to PCs and servers. The move seemed like a good one, since it could potentially move HP away from reliance on Windows at some point in the future. That plan has been tossed out, and the company no longer has an operating system it can use to differentiate its products.

10.Is it really necessary?
When it’s all said and done, HP must ask itself if another mobile operating system is really needed. Android and iOS own four-fifths of the market, and there is a good chance that could only grow next year. WebOS, meanwhile, is left to pick up the scraps. Is that really what HP wants? Furthermore, does HP really think making WebOS open source can change that? WebOS is little more than an also-ran. And it’s about time HP realizes that.

11. The Platform is missing all action till 2013. Guess what by that kind of time, it would be dead
HP itself says that it may not enter the webOS device market again until 2013 and we’ve seen no public statements from other major device makers champing at the bit to build devices based on the software, at least not in its current state.

12. HP- an ecosystem manager? Nah!
One of the challenges that HP faced with webOS was that it had never been at the center of an ecosystem trying to build a developer base for a consumer operating system. Likewise, though, it has never been at the center of a major open source project, which involves managing not only internal development constituencies but external ones as well.

Perhaps the biggest question, though, lies not in whether HP and the open source community can execute on making webOS a stronger competitor, but whether anything can carve out turf between the iOS monolith and the Android skyline. So far, such ground has not proven fertile in the mobile OS turnaround attempts of Microsoft and RIM. However, as mobile devices, particularly tablets, take on more PC-like tasks, there is the highly successful example of Windows on the PC to pursue, the very offering that HP — and many other companies — won’t hesitate to embrace in future tablet generations before revisiting webOS..

Reproduced from an article by Don Reisinger

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HP and the Monkey Act!

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on October 29, 2011

There was this monkey who once wanted to cross the busy road! One day he declared his grand intention to his family and set afoot. Having reached the road, he stepped out but was caught in the melee of the traffic. He would step ahead, step back, step aside, step around, step over, jump, shout, hop, run forward, run back… and make a monkey of himself on the road

A short story but a long similarity with one of the most respected technology companies in the world: Hewlett Packard.HP has forever been caught on transition (it seems) with no strategy or long term thought on the way forward. There are many other examples of companies and boards that have been profligate and have squandered away all investor faith and confidence: Nokia, RIM, Yahoo and more.. and HP is certainly not the worst. It has managed to erode only about 50% of its market capitalization in the last 2 years or so, which is pretty neat.


HP’s stock price has mirrored the caprices of its board and CEOs

So here’s the folly list (or so i think):

1. So everyone wants to be Apple. But there aint no Apple No.2. HP failed to understand its own core proposition and went on the “ape” route.

2. Needless to say all of the HP smartphones and the touchpads found no takers. The markets already had Apple and Android to content with. If ever there was a third front, it was Microsoft.

3. Did HP’s BoD and Lee Apotheokar assume that mobile market to be simplistic enough that a Palm WebOS purchase would suffice? Ever since HP took over Palm, Palm and WebOS got more sidelined than ever.

4. After buying out Palm for 1.25 bln and the $1 bln restructuring cost booked in Q4 2010, the effort has been a drain on the resources and a massive let down for the shareholders.

5. Then came the announcement that HP is moving away from hardware business to software and consultancy focus.Many call this restructuring and I call that an IBM cloning.

6. Surprise! Surprise! Today morning newspapers report that HP actually doesnt want to sell it PC business now. About turn from stated strategic intent less than a month or so back.

7. Beat this then, when HP wants to side with Windows 8 for tablets! So Apothekar buys out Plam and WebOS and outlines a grand strategy for WebOS. Now CEO Meg Whitman does the boring and sundry and wants to get back to Windows 8.

Venturing into Mobile (and moving out), Buying WebOS (and failure to Leverage), Moving out of hardware and coming back to it. The question begs to be asked; Does the HP board know what is it that it is driving at. Or is it the monkey act in between all the chaos and confusion that tech industry always is.

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Would Amazon gamble on Palm WebOS?

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on September 30, 2011

If rumours are to be believed we may yet see a third coming of WebOS powering Amazon devices

Could HP’s loss be Amazon’s big gamble? Yes we are talking Palm’s WebOS. Amazon, the online retailing giant is rumoured to be in serious negotiations to snap up Palm from HP. So while HP is currently looking to rid itself of Palm as soon as possible, Amazon is reported to be the closest to finalizing the deal, among a handful of contenders. It’s worth noting that former Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein, who now holds a vague “product innovation” role at HP’s Personal Services Group, joined Amazon’s board late last year.

Amazon’s Kindle Fire which is loosely Android based (loosely based because of the heavy customization by Amazon to the point where one can barely tell that it is Android.) could use WebOS could provide the necessary differentiation to Amazon Kindle devices from the slew of Android tablets. There’s still plenty of potential for WebOS to power a successful device. Palm’s mobile software was praised for its slick multi-tasking capabilities, which could allow future Kindle Fire tablets to juggle games, movies and media with more finesse than Android.

Rubinstein revealed quite a bit about having Amazon use of WebOS in its future tablets:
… we’d (Palm) like a partner that would allow us to expand the webOS ecosystem… There’s a variety of different sets of a characteristics to qualify as a good partner. I would say Amazon would certainly make a great partner, because they have a lot of characteristics that would help them expand the webOS ecosystem. As to whether there’s been discussions or not… that’s obviously not something I’m going to comment about.

HP paid $1.2 billion for Palm in 2010, but Amazon will end up spending a fraction of that if the deal goes through. Given just how badly the TouchPad failed, HP will likely offer what’s left of Palm at a major discount, especially since Amazon woudn’t be interested in resuscitating now extinct webOS hardware.

On a personal level, I had expected HP to do a whole lot more with its Palm acquistion. Instead all it produced was the ousting of Lee Appothekar and a radical change of corporate strategy. I do hope Amazon with its best in class revenue generating streams could use the Palm WebOS’s abilities and UI to far greater effect and success.

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HP’s consumer busines foray:its biggest judgement error!

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on August 20, 2011

Even while some people had some lingering expectation about a fourth front in smartphones and tablets, where WebOS and HP could have played a niche dominated role- HP dropped the ball.HP is not seemingly keen on the consumer space and has indicated that it will discontinue its tablet computer and smartphone products and may sell or spin off its PC division, bowing out of the consumer businesses.

HP killing the Touchpad/WebOS, its decision to hive of its PC business and the extreme business re-direction towards selling software solutions, servers and other business equipment to B2B sellers is a fall out of a massive strategy re-think. This is one of the most extreme makeovers in the company’s 72-year history and signals new CEO Leo Apotheker’s most transparent move to date to make HP look more like longtime rival IBM Corp.

Unfortunately, it does give a impression that HP for the last some months has been undecided on its future course which is so not good for a business house such as HP. It means that the $1.25 bln it spent in acquiring Palm and the $1 bln restructuring cost booked in Q4 this year has been a drain on the resources and a massive let down for the shareholders. One may argure that all that all this is with a cause of making money in the long term, but it still doesnot take the limelight away from the fact that HP was de-focussed on its intent around consumer markets. HP has allready lost 55% share value from its share price high this February.

HP's fall from its $40 highs to $16 levels has erased 60% of its market Cap

HP's fall from its $40 highs to $16 levels has erased 60% of its market Cap

In as far as Web OS touchpads and the HP series of Smartphones in concerned, it was rather evident even before HP entered the fray, that it was going to be a crowded market and a bloody battle with no easy footholds and quick victories.It is here that HP was the victim of the Apple and Google juggernauts, as iPads and iPhones and smartphones running Google’s Android software have been hot sellers, while HP devices have languished. Why wasn’t HP able to factor that in? In light of the Motorola acquisition by Google, Tech pundits had speculated that rivals HP and Microsoft could potentially capitalize on Google’s acquisition by licensing webOS and Windows Mobile OS out to these manufacturers. HP it seems thought differently altogether.

It’s also possible that HP could follow in Motorola’s footsteps, putting its patent portfolio on the market for a hefty sale. That way HP would extract some salvage value from its consumer-business asssets.

HP now presents another case study hings of how things can go from good to concerning in a few business quarters

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Why did HP fail to leverage Web OS

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on August 19, 2011

When Palm introduced the Pre, it represented a major threat to the iPhone. It was a beautiful vessel for WebOS, an elegant operating system built to solve all of the problems users had with Apple’s darling. Today, after two scant years, the phone and its subsequent tablet are dead, and any hope for future webOS products would be foolish. It is quite amazing as to how good technology, backed by the most powerful brands in the business, fall so far so fast

In April 2010, HP purchased Palm in its entirety with the intent of launching a family of webOS devices to compete with Apple. This year, the new owner inauspiciously launched several phones and a tablet, none of which lived up to reviewers’ measured expectations. The first failure of webOS was the original Pre, the Pixi, then of course the Pre 2, the Veer and now the TouchPad.HP possibly reaad the Touchpad and tablets wrong, and had to drop prices by 20% 15 days from launch. The Veer is so small and ergonomically awkward to use that many people were wondering why launch such a device after Microsoft’s fiasco with the Kin line of phones.Developers continued to ignore the platform, and so did customers.

HP is officially discontinuing operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones. HP says that it will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward. However, since the prior sentence pretty much proclaims that webOS has no value, this is the same as saying they will multiply X by zero, and see what they get. For many who would have liked to see the emergence of WebOS as a mobile platform underdog—the HP-Palm acquisition was a waste. HP was not able to leverage on any of Palm’s strengths and deliver any thing noteworthy either in smartphone or tablet space. So then, did HP really have any concrete roadmap of what it would have done with WebOS after the acquisition. On Hindsight now, it seems that HP was intent spending $1.25 billion and did so with a lack of clarity and forthcoming thought.

1. Being slightly better isn’t good enough. Reviews back in 2009 proclaimed the Palm Pre better than the iPhone in many ways. But almost every itemized advantage, from multitasking apps to better alerts, were things that could easily be adopted. Both the dominant iPhone and the struggling cub that was Android were able to learn from the Pre’s webOS, and co-opt what mattered. Interestingly, in a year or more time, the WebOS platform did not show any development whereas iOS and Android caught up.Fast forward to this year, when HP introduced a webOS tablet that wasn’t even “slightly better,” by any reviewer’s estimates, and the story just becomes sadder.

2. Fighting the mobile device fight takes limitless resources. I really mean “limitless,” as in, no end in sight. Apple, Google and Microsoft can hammer away for a long time, building device after device, revising software and hardware in the depths of their subterranean laboratories, meeting with partners in secret, all the while filing and acquiring patents and of course, suing the pants off each other. With the exception of perhaps Amazon, not many other companies can do this. HP could have done this, but in light of the current events, it seems that HP’s priorities have changed or at-least shifted.

3. There’s no room for also-rans. When Palm entered this battle, it was a fight over phones that could give you email and surf the Web. Now it’s about operating systems that run applications. Developers spend all their time and resources on one, maybe two, platforms, honing their apps and services. That’s why there’s a precipitous drop between the number of apps available for iOS and Android products, and those for any other system. WebOS had a slick interface, but no development. (This lack of development has also plagued RIM.)

4. Consumers, like horses, smell fear and desert. The biggest telltale sign that neither Palm nor HP was certain of their joined fate was the dead silence that followed the acquisition. What few phone launches had occurred between summer 2009 and spring 2011 were marginal, and the woulda-coulda iPad killer was nowhere to be seen. So when a company launches a long-delayed product, with a speech full of excuses as to why it’s not better, negative reviews aren’t necessary. The would-be buyers already know to steer clear.

5. HP is in the PC business. It’s very hard for HP and Dell to break free of their Windows roots, because all of their attempts to branch out are effectively funded by Windows PC sales. PC sales are dropping, as the makers and Microsoft itself know all too well, but it still represents billions of dollars in sales, where these nascent phone platforms actually lose money. So for HP to say that it plans to go into the webOS tablet business, at a time when Microsoft is planning to launch its own tablet-friendly version of Windows, represents internal conflict for both the product developers and the bean counters.

It is incredibly unfortunate how a large company like HP failed to leverage the power of WebOS and create a future in consumer mobility. Now sure if it was lack of vision and action ensuing from it or it was a change of business strategy that prompted HP to volte-face. However what has happened is that WebOS has suffered as a reason. The best chance for WebOS is if somebody buys it out from HP…. possibly Facebook.

WebOS: MIA but a force in reckoning

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on May 2, 2011

Even as iOS, Androids, WP7, Blackberry 7, Symbian and more are engaged in a bloody battle for supremacy in the OS space, Palm-HP’s WebOS, hasn’t really been the feature in any discussion and HP seems content at WebOS’s MIA status. Why would one be concerned with WebOS in the first place? That’s because Fanboys world over have been debating that the WebOS is the true blue competitor to Apple’s iOS in a digitally connected world. How can one compare an iOS that has an installed base of more than 10 million devices and has enabled 10 billion app downloads to a rookie OS which is yet to hit the road. More so, research agencies such as Gartner donot feature the WebOS as a sizeable competitor in forecasts up to 2015.

HP has already launched new generation WebOS products such as HP Veer, Pre 3 and Touchpad. The specs of Pre 3 and Touchpad are frighteningly close to the bests in the competition.

So what might the success factors for WebOS be?
1. WebOS is as optimized as it gets for touch screen devices and was built ground up for touch devices. That puts it beyond the reckoning of Symbian and BB already. This puts it in par with the iOS.
2. WebOS will feature across a cluster of device categories which would include the tablet, smartphone and laptop. (Would loved to have seen TV there as well)
3. Sharp features on the UI such as Cards (instead of home screens) to group apps. Again at par with iOS.
4. The WebOS will be cloud ready at launch and the Synergy feature would automatically back up data on the cloud eliminating the need of a synch.
5. Touchstone features such as bump to share and induction charging would be other differentiators in the pack.

WebOS’s weaknesses
1. Absence of an ecosystem to support the app hungry users. By the time, WebOS surfaces, developers would be more engrossed in Apple, Android and WP7 to cause a crisis of quality apps for WebOS.
2. While Palm has some presence in US, the game is to step it up world over and though HP has the muscle, this may take longer than expected.

The WebOS could be a huge threat to incumbents such as BB and Symbian. Even Android with its issues of fragmentation could feel the challenge from WebOS. With its bells and whistles, WebOS actually closes on the king, iOS and while many have written the WebOS off, it could really be the fight of this decade between WebOS and others going forward. HP needs to get the launch dates and pricing right….

WebOS 2.0: The second coming of WebOS

When Palm unveiled the WebOS for the first time, it was hailed by many as a true competitor to the iOS. However WebOS lost its way with Palm and the HP acquisition of its parent. The WebOS, incredible as it was, was thought to be done and dusted with.For HP, acquisition of Palm as to accelerate their position in mobile phone space, but it was also about webOS. Now, when HP is seriously mulling smartphone options, it has started resuscitating the WebOS from the dead. Call it WebOS 2.0 if you have to, but knowing Palm’s smartphone penchant, there is some promise the WebOS holds which could possibly be just enough to give HP the toe hold in the smartphone melee.

We already have a trend of web and HTML5 really beginning to become a first-class app development and distribution platform – as evidenced by even Microsoft’s new and surprising support for HTML5 standards. Microsoft stunned a few industry watchers by its support for HTML 5 on its IE9. Palm with its nativity in the web and client oriented technology Now, HP is looking to drive WebOS across to lots of form factors and devices to fill the gap between the smartphone and the PC. The blogs are already abuzz with a Palm 4” smartphone concept. HP is also talking about tablets, new phones, and “really interesting new form factors” in 2011 which would then give the WebOS a decent shot at stardom. WebOS and innovative form factor devices: a Potent Combo. According to HP that is not all and HP is fortifying product proposition with the following additions:

1. HP is also hinting at using flexible display technology (refer to FOLEDs) as an important ally. We already have hints from Sony, Samsung and Apple who are already working in the direction of flexible displays.


Video demonstration of HP Flexible Display technology

2. Palm’s online, drag-n-drop development Ares system is a versatile set of integrated mobile development tools hosted entirely in the browser. The Ares features a drag-and-drop interface builder, a robust code editor, a visual debugger, and built-in source control integration. Ares dramatically lowers the barriers for web developers to jump into mobile development and makes building webOS apps even easier and faster than before.
3. HP is also working on application frameworks “Enyo” (Mojo as known earlier), to support apps on multiple form factors. In consonance with Ares, Enyo packs in faster performance, modern and modular design and support across a range of products and screens.
4. Palm also has started wooing developers, inviting them to work on the Enyo framework for design and creation of Apps. While the Mojo is already available,Enyo SDK access program is expected to kick of early 2011.

In over 170 countries globally, HP has atleast 10% of consumer electronics shelf space and Palm and the WebOS are going to be two critical factors that will help enhance HPs presence in the shelf space. WebOS is not only the centerpiece of HP’s mobile vision, but also enables HP to extend WebOS across more products and multiple regions.

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Why buy Palm?

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on April 4, 2010

In an earlier post, I had discussed the crisis at Palm and the inability of the leadership to acknowledge, identify and address the crisis. So what makes Palm a good purchase for its likely suitors anyways?

Palm has to its credit a few strong assets that make it a very viable and in demand purchase. WebOS, the Palm patents and an ex-Apple talent is what drives interest in Palm. The depth and quality of a patent portfolio is somewhat correlated to the time a company has been in an industry and the extent to which it has held leadership positions, which is presumably when it might have sewn up some key patents. In fact for the WebOS, It is the devices: Pre and Pixi that is constraining the software and the device is a lot easier to fix than a poor operating systems. Just think of how long it took Palm, Apple, Google and now Microsoft to develop their new mobile operating systems; years. That’s where the interest in purchase of the Palm lies.

There are many companies that would be interested in WebOS — some obvious and some not so obvious. Probably the best way to frame the value of WebOS is to think of the size of the overall cell phone market was 1.1 billion units in 2009. If the future of the phone industry is smartphones then over time there are only going to be handful of OS’s that will prevail. WebOS has the technical pedigree to be one of those platforms. Nothing is certain, but for a number of companies it might provide the opportunity, or at least the perception of the opportunity, that they could be one a handful of platforms in this market. Sample this: There was a lot of speculation about Apple suing Palm over rivaling technologies. Yet it could not. The rational was the strength in the Palm patent Portfolio. Apple sued HTC over patent infringements instead. An unintended consequence of this lawsuit is that it potentially increases the value of Palm’s patent portfolio, and strengthens the case for them to be acquired

There is also the App Catalog to consider. With Palm’s recently released PDK they have probably the best gaming development platform after the iPhone, but again for this to get serious traction with developers they need to believe in the viability of the platform, which is unlikely as long as Palm remains independent. The case for the talent is pretty much self evident.

From an acquirer’s perspective, everyone that might be interested in Palm knows they could be very close to needing life support and waiting for the point at which they will need resuscitation could be very costly. They also know that there has got to be more than one other party interested in acquiring Palm so they can’t sit simply bide their time before they make a bid, lest they lose the company to another bidder. (A case in point is Admob on who Apple dawdled for a while only to see it acquired by Google and Apple ultimately had to take a second choice option). Then there is the time to market issue. There are quite a few OS’s in development and Android and the iPhone are leaping ahead; no buyer has the luxury of sitting back to wait and see how things play out if they want to compete.

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Return of the prodigy: Palm (featuring Pre and WebOS)

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on February 20, 2009

mobile_slide4_ss-11Palm pioneeered the PDA and the smartphone scene way before RIMs and Apples of the world were in the scene. However, over the years Palm lost its way and is almost out of contention. Almost! The recently announced web OS and Pre have been appreciated and its time, we shall see whether Palm has any fight left in it or not!

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For a start, Palm Pre makes a point. It has the works and it works pretty smartly!. It starts with a 3.1 inch 320*480 res screen with a built in accelerometer and a QWERTY keyboard. Inside is a 8GB storage and a 3 MP camera with a LED flash. It has a neat multitouch screen and it supports WiFi.

However, it is the UI based on the new WebOS that Palm introduces with the Pre which seems to be the “meat” of things. WebOS is based on the webkit which uses the Synergy data integration combining data from outlook, Google and Facebook to provide a universal address book and calendar. It also auto updates these sites for changes made in the device address book. The new App store that Palm is making would provide other applications. From the first look Webkit outclasses competition in terms of smoothness, speed, application, switching and menu views.
Palm from the very introduction of the WebOS and the device seem to have the Apple iPhone i its sights! We will wait to see how this one shapes up when it is shipped somewhere around the first half of this year.
Go Palm!
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