HP Exec Says WebOS Is Having The Same Growing Pains As Mac OS X A Decade Ago

HP Exec Says WebOS Is Having The Same Growing Pains As Mac OS X A Decade Ago

The reviews of HP’s would-be iPad-killer are in, and they all agree on one thing: the HP Touchpad is no iPad, but webOS has a huge amount of promise.

Now an internal email sent out to HP staff has leaked, written by Palm’s Senior Vice President, and it compares webOS’s rough edges along with its promise to Mac OS X ten years ago.

Here’s the email:

Team,

Today we bring the HP TouchPad and webOS 3.0 to the world. The HP team has achieved something extraordinary – especially when you consider that it’s been just one year since our work on the TouchPad began in earnest. Today also marks the start of a new era for HP as our vision for connected mobility begins to take form – an ecosystem of services, applications and devices connected seamlessly by webOS.

If you’ve seen the recent TouchPad reviews you know that the industry understands HP’s vision and sees the same potential in webOS as we do. David Pogue from the New York Times says “there are signs of greatness here.” (I’ve included links to David’s review and others below.) You’ve also seen that reviewers rightly note things we need to improve about the webOS experience. The good news is that most of the issues they cite are already known to us and will be addressed in short order by over-the-air software and app catalog updates. We still have work to do to make webOS the platform we know it can be, but remember…..it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

In that spirit, Richard Kerris, head of worldwide developer relations for webOS, reminded me yesterday of the first reviews for a product introduced a little over ten years ago:

“…overall the software is sluggish”
“…there are no quality apps to use, so it won’t last”
“…it’s just not making sense….”

It’s hard to believe these statements described MacOS X – a platform that would go on to change the landscape of Silicon Valley in ways that no one could have imagined.

The similarities to our situation are obvious, but there’s also a big difference. Like David Pogue, our audiences get that webOS has the potential for greatness. And like me, they know that your hard work and passion, and the power of HP’s commitment to webOS, will turn that potential into the real thing.

Personally, I think this email says a lot about how serious HP is about webOS. They know they’ve got a great piece of software with loads of promise, but they also know that’s not enough to compete with Apple. They need to be in this for the long game if they’re going to make a dent.

  • JayeDee369

    Finally someone gets it!

  • Toby Matthews

    webOS definitely looks to have some attractive features. However, I remember my first reaction to OS X all those years ago which was much more extreme because it seemed a much more radical leap forward than this. Good luck to HP but can’t see them breaking the Apple dominance in the tablet market any time soon. Plus the the Touchpad itself looks clunky alongside the iPad.

  • Dilbert A

    Tried several demo units, and even after a reboot both were still very laggy. One kept freezing. Competition is good, so well see I guess.

  • davester13

    The difference is that when MacOSX 10.0 shipped, the competition was crappy (98) or still a gleam in Microsoft’s eye (XP).  There was nothing the market viewed as significantly better available [as remember, Microsoft had market share not because it was better, but because they illegally prevented competition in the OS market].

    Now, the iPhone is years ahead of WebOS in terms of capabilities and usability.

  • Andy Murdock

    A decade behind, I guess on a geological scale, that is but a moment.

  • Ronald Stepp

    Not a very compelling excuse HP, since it’s a decade later.  You didn’t learn anything from all the examples during that 10 years?  Really?  That’s even worse than if it was 10 years ago.

  • martinberoiz

    On a technological scale it’s an eternity

  • Brian Moore

    I’ve been a big HP fan, & used HP & Windon’t from 1995 up to Vista, before switching to Apple/Mac two years ago.
    Will I ever go back to HP/Windon’t? NO
    But Competition is good. Keeps people on there toes.
    HP just needs to get some programmers in there that know what there doing…

  • imajoebob

    I’ve been annoying commenters for the last year saying the same thing – except I expected HP to come out of the box with a more complete product.  They’ve got about 3 months to pump this up for prime time, or it’s lights out.  If they don’t have it ready by late September they can kiss Xmas goodbye.

    I’ve been droning on about how WedOS is HP’s ticket to a universal platform – phones, tablets, and desktops.  It will free them from designing equipment to support 20 years of legacy Windows detritus AND enable them to optimize hardware with software – just like OS X.  Might be time to short your MS stock.  The other obvious similarity that HP would love to see duplicated is that Apple saved the company by buying NeXT.  I’m sure they thought about that when they swallowed Palm.  Maybe one of those Handspring folks is the next Steve Jobs?

  • Beave

    As much as I agree with your post, but as a kind suggestion… PLEASE spell your words correctly. It’s distracting.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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