Earlier today came news that HP was making a large software acquisition in the form of a $10 billion buy of Autonomy. They also announced that they would splitting off their PC division. Both were significant announcements to be sure, but there was one other nugget in their press release that was initially overlooked, but which has a much greater impact on the red-hot tablet and smartphone markets: HP is effectively killing their WebOS platform by “discontinuing operations” for their WebOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and Pre units.
Other than vowing to “explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward,” and this tweet from Richard Kerris, a VP at HP, we have little more information on the future of what was once one of the most promising smartphone operating systems to emerge since Apple’s iOS made it’s debut with the original iPhone.
At the time, people hailed the device and software platform as an inspired, fresh start for Palm which had been deteriorating badly under the pressure of RIM’s BlackBerry and Apple’s relatively new iPhone.
I’ve always been a big believer in WebOS. It’s a very good OS and it handles things like multitasking , task switching and notifications with greater elegance than the competition. But it took HP too long to develop a tablet device on which to let WebOS explore its potential and when the TouchPad finally emerged earlier this year it was a case of too little, too late. The first WebOS tablet was thick, heavy, sluggish and though it possessed an innovative way to explore its app store, there was nothing in the way of true innovation. The original iPad is a better device and the iPad 2 is light years ahead.
I was curious to see what they would do for second version, but alas, now we’ll never know.
Rest in piece WebOS devices – we hardly knew you.