HP dropped the ball on WebOS

Though it was no surprise that WebOS was struggling in today's competitive market, it feels as though HP didn't even give the mobile operating system a chance.

Pre 3: I didn't even get a chance to know and love you. HP

I'm upset. Really, really upset.

Earlier today, HP dropped the bombshell that it was abandoning WebOS and discontinuing the production of the TouchPad and WebOS phones. True, this doesn't mean that WebOS is completely dead, as HP could sell or license the mobile operating system, but in a competitive market that's dominated by iOS and Android, it would be a hard sell.

What happens to WebOS in the future remains to be seen, but it's still a sad day. What's most upsetting to me is that HP didn't even give it a full go and simply let WebOS die a quiet death . Perhaps I should have seen the signs when then HP CEO Mark Hurd said in June 2010 that the Palm acquisition wasn't about smartphones.

"We didn't buy Palm to be in the smartphone business. And I tell people that, but it doesn't seem to resonate well. We bought it for the IP," said Hurd.

Still, I had hope as HP unveiled the TouchPad, Veer, and Pre 3 in February and talked of bringing WebOS to desktop computers , printers , and other electronics, including appliances and cars . When you consider how much the company talked up WebOS, perhaps you can understand why I feel betrayed and angry right now.

"We see too long a ramp-up" was HP CEO Leo Apetheker's reasoning behind the decision to drop WebOS. I understand there are financial reasons for the decision, but I have to wonder, did HP even invest in the OS at all? Did the company put any effort into developing new hardware? To attract developers to the platform? Because it certainly doesn't seem like it.

I suppose you could say they made some feeble attempts. The company released the HP Veer 4G with AT&T, which got people's attention with its small size but failed in a big way. Then, there was the TouchPad--a tablet that had its share of flaws but also had great potential, only to have HP dig the tablet's own grave by announcing a 4G model before its release and then dropping the price by $100 shortly after its launch. The HP Pre 3 was a really the bright star of the bunch, and now, it's a case of "what could have been."

For all the fault that we can put on HP, at the end of the day what I'm most sad about is the fact that WebOS might just fade away as a footnote in tech history. I still remember reviewing the original Palm Pre and falling in love with the operating system. Its multitasking and notifications systems were unparalleled at the time; the contact management was top-notch; and it was just a beautiful and sophisticated OS.

Just because HP couldn't make it work, doesn't mean another company can't make it work. I know, it's a rough market, but I really hope this isn't the end of WebOS.

About the author

Bonnie Cha was a former chief correspondent for CNET Crave, covering every kind of tech toy imaginable (with a special obsession for robots and Star Wars-related stuff). When she's not scoping out stories, you can find her checking out live music or surfing in the chilly waters of Northern California.

 

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