webOS: The OS it could have been
webOS. A topic of much discussion recently and the product of Palm. With the gorgeous way it handles multitasking to the beautiful keyboards on the phones (not counting the Veer). After HP decided to kill it in August with some reconsidering though by the new CEO Meg Whitman, its time to take a look at webOS from its birth at CES 2009 and to what it could have been.
At CES 2009, Palm announced the webOS platform, a platform based on staying connected to the internet. With a pleasant UI, it was a change from the usual smartphone interface. Its cards and its gestures that extended beyond the screen made it an extremely attractive operating system. Only a swipe would take you out of an app and another swipe and tap would bring you to a different app. With it also came Synergy, a way to sync everything from all the internet accounts that you have. And you were a character away from doing an instant universal search. Notifications were done so that they would gently glide into the screen and automatically shrink the application. Using simple gestures, it also made navigation simple and intuitive.
To compliment the webOS platform, on the same day, January 8th 2009, Palm announced the original Pre. It had a beautiful design. A 3.1 inch display and a nice QWERTY keyboard made the device. In design terms, it had a curvy design that has stuck with webOS, even in the Pre 3 and Veer. It also had a wireless dock, the Touchstone. With the webOS platform, it made for a really nice device.
What it could of been
The possibilities of webOS were enormous. Some ideas were with Synergy, summed up nicely by Joshua Topolsky. HP uses Synergy in lots of things, and its especially nice with photos. He says that they could do the same thing with music and video, making hubs and integrating them with all the services. This would is a truly brilliant idea, and really shows the power of webOS and Synergy. Just more of the way that you interact with the device could help, they have these amazing gestures. Its a great operating system on a phone and could be so powerful, and then you put it on the tablet, it looks even better. The tap to share functionality could be expanded (although Google has already tried to steal this with Android Beam). The Touchstone inductive charging was a great idea, how it is all wireless and you are in a different environment with it, and it could expand on that. Its great of course, as a device you use for media consumption and games, but it could be a great productivity system as well. The way they use the cards is very similar to windows on a computer, and when you start using stacks, it is almost like spaces in Mac OS X Lion. The phones also come with great keyboards, which only enhance the productivity experience. On the tablet, you get a great email client. And calendar syncs with all you calendars as well. The possibilities are endless.
What it still could be
webOS is still not dead. Under Leo Apotheker it is, but he's not here any more. This is Meg Whitman's company now. Of course, killing it is still the most likely thing to happen, but there is still hope for the operating system. Even Whitman isn't sure. She held a call yesterday only to say she has no idea on what to do. But there have been reports of selling. Reuters says that they are considering a sale for only hundreds of millions of dollars. Possible companies have been RIM, IBM, Intel, and even Amazon. I could see RIM buying it and making an impact. They have QNX, which is going to be BBX, which is very similar to webOS, and buying that OS would definitely polish up BBX. But even Amazon. They know what to do. Their Kindle Fire tablet is an exact representation of a company playing to their strengths. They are just a smart company. Buying it would put them in the mobile market, and I think they would play to webOS's strength, their own strengths, and putting everything together. They would integrate their services, and probably take advantage of some of the great things about webOS, like the ones I listed above.
webOS is a great operating system. It came with lots of hard work, and I still think it could be competitive in today's market. It also has lots of potential. But HP has ruined its name and ruined almost everything about. If HP decides to keep it, then they won't help it. HP just can't do mobile. But if a strategic company like RIM or Amazon purchased it, then you might see webOS or parts of webOS in the near future.