I, personally, had high hopes for Web OS and Palm. I truly believed that it was the only worthy opponent to iOS and from the moment it was announced I was ready to buy into it except for the cheesy phone design. That was not the only mistake that Palm made though, and HP’s announcement on Friday put the final nail in the coffin … or did it?
- Apple proved that soft keyboards are every bit as practical as physical keyboards, yet the Palm Pre added extra thickness to provide one, not to mention the ugly case design.
- The Palm Pixi was not only uglier, but also added a new aspect ratio for developers to have to deal with.
- Palm struck a deal with Sprint which meant that the Pre and Pixi where not available for GSM networks and would not be available world wide. On top of that, Sprint was not only not a consumer favorite but also the lacked the user base of both AT&T and Verizon.
- For a mobile OS that was advertised as web based, support for HTML 5 was more limited than on the iPhone. The end result was that Palm did not win over a lot of developers.
A New Hope
When HP bought Palm, I thought they understood the value of what they were buying. WebOS on every device (Printers, Phones, Tablets, Desktops) sounded like things were moving in the right direction. Now WebOS had the money behind it to do really well, but then things went awry again.
- It took HP along time to put new WebOS devices on the market. Not necessarily a mistake, but the devices were not that impressive after this long a wait.
- The Touchpad was priced on part with the iPad even though it did not have the App ecosystem that iOS has.
- The Touchpad reviews where not good due to the hardware that was not up to par with the OS.
- HP immediately released updated Touchpad with better specs, infuriating the few fans that bought in early.
- And finally, HP announced that the Touchpad is dead.
The last five points happened in a span of a couple of months.
Is It Dead?
Not really. HP still plans to license it to device manufacturers and perhaps still embed it in printers and such, but I doubt it will ever be able to compete with iOS or even Android. The latter mainly due to the fact that WebOS has failed to attract a good developer community to provide it with apps.
I believe that Apple’s strongest point is that it controls both the hardware and software, so it can guarantee the user experience. While I disagreed with this in the PC era, it is definitely key in the post PC era. To this point, the only true competitors that had any chance of competing where HP, who has already put up the white flag, and RIM, who just cannot get its head around a device that is not email centric. Windows Phone 7 and Android do not control the hardware and the effect is obvious depending on which device you buy.
My far fetched hope is for WebOS to become the Linux of the Post PC era and for HP to become the RedHat.