Pre to postmortem: the inside story of the death of Palm and webOS: This is a really interesting look into the demise of Palm and webOS, a product about which I was very passionate.
I had a first-gen Palm Pre and loved it. I still maintain that it had the best multi-tasking model before or since. No device I have ever seen did it better than the card metaphor of the Pre.
But there’s one particular part of the article I really found fascinating – apparently you can’t just get any hardware components you want for your device. There’s a limited supply on the market, and if China runs out, you have to go without or build your own factory.
We tend to think things like keyboards and displays exist in inexhaustible supplies, but apparently not. When Palm wanted to make the Pre 3 an “iPhone Killer,” they found out that the iPhone was going to screw them over by taking all the components they wanted.
“We told HP we needed better displays [for the Pre 3]. They’d come back and say, ‘Apple bought them all. Our suppliers tell us we need to build them a factory if we want the displays’ and they weren’t willing to put the billion dollars upfront to do that,” one source said. “The same thing happened with cameras. We’d pick a part, turns out Apple picked the same part. We were screwed left and right.” Without HP’s full financial support to buy its way into relevance, Palm was essentially left to pick from the corporate parts bin — a problem that would strike particularly hard later on with the TouchPad.
I had no idea.