The lost secrets of webOS

The Verge has an interesting story up detailing the various hardware and software prototypes that could have had a future hadn’t HP botched pretty much every aspect of its Palm acquisition. Both in features as well as design, the next version of webOS, codenamed ‘Eel’, looked quite promising, and the hardware designs certainly stand out too.

Sadly, as I stated in my detailed history of Palm, webOS was, at its core, simply not a Palm product. As I wrote:

A cool UI doesn’t hide the fact that it’s slow and unresponsive. A cool UI doesn’t hide the fact that the underlying system is unoptimised. A cool UI doesn’t hide the fact that it sucks battery like a there’s no tomorrow. A cool UI doesn’t hide the fact that the hardware was of appallingly low quality.

A cool UI doesn’t hide the fact that the operating system has absolutely nothing to do with what Palm is supposed to stand for.

WebOS probably looked like the bee’s knees to someone used to the version of Android and iOS at the time, but having had a long history using PalmOS products, webOS was a total and utter letdown. WebOS was a badly sewn together set of compromises, unfinished parts and shortcuts – and it showed. From The Verge’s article, I get the impression that Eel slapped on a new coat of paint and new user-facing features – but that the lower levels and core of the operating system were still very much the same unoptimised mess.

I’m definitely curious what LG’s webOS TV is going to be like – it looks nice – but if it’s anything like Palm’s and HP’s webOS products, it won’t light any of my fires.


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