I’ve just come back from the HP webOS “Connect” meeting in London, where a bar full of eager mobile web developers were being courted (with free* beer no less) by the worldwide VP of Developer Relations, Richard Kerris.
I didn’t stay the full distance, leaving after about an hour and a half, and that in itself is not a good sign.
Kerris himself gave a great, and sincere, introduction to the evening. He seems like a nice guy – competent, articulate, honest. He promised the best mobile developer program in the world, access to 100m devices in the coming years (HP have committed to getting webOS onto notebooks – or possibly netbooks, one of them). The devices look good, the OS seems to be right in the 2011 sweetspot, and HP has a mountain of money – so anticipation levels were high.
And then the presentations began.
I stayed for about half-a-dozen ten minute presentations, and frankly they were lamentable. Someone from the Guardian (where isn’t there a Guardian presenter these days) gave a great little talk on how important
iOS mobile devices are to their future strategy. Unfortunately they don’t have any webOS applications.
Then came a German games developer – seriously, flown in from Germany. As if there’s no one comparable in the UK. Except apparently there isn’t. He too gave a nice talk – predominantly on how the first SDK didn’t really work, and how he ported his first webOS app to iOS in a couple of days. And he’s a paid (in expenses at least) advocate.
Then we had a succession of very nice people, all of whom had various degrees of hello world apps to show, but nothing commercially viable. At which point I had to leave.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Pirate at QCon, but at least he had a company, employing real people, making money from iOS.
I like Mr. Kerris, and I like webOS. Hell, I even quite liked an HP laptop I saw advertised the other day, but this was a pretty poor show from HP. They couldn’t even pull together a set of speakers willing to endorse the platform professionally. We wanted Rovio to turn up, or possibly Zynga. Or someone, anyone, who was doing something that might make money out of this. If HP are putting on a roadshow for developers (as is their stated intent) they need a lot more firepower, and if that means taking some US developers on the road with them, then that’s what they need to do.
* That’s free as in beer.