When powered on, a ‘new’, reset or doctored webOS device will attempt to contact HP’s servers to allow a user to log in to an existing Palm Profile account or create a new one. In the past, this allowed access to the app catalog and other services such as cloud backup & remote wipe.
Now, the HP servers are gone. You can read articles on these pages about the various community fixes for issues that have arisen over the years and how to set up the device and install apps. But if starting afresh, you’ll hit an apparent brickwall: webOS wasn’t designed to skip the activation if contact isn’t made. Palm naturally assumed that everyone would want to download apps & use the services, so the machine waits for contact, advising the user to check the connection or contact HP.