LG's first TVs running webOS will launch in early 2014, possibly at CES. That's the word from our sources, and loosely confirmed by LG VP of communications John Taylor, who said webOS is in "fast track development" in a conversation yesterday. "It's going to be in a product very soon," Taylor told me. "Not in 2013, but soon thereafter." What's more, webOS will be integrated into LG's main TV products, according to North American VP of smart TV Samuel Chang, who said the products would ship in "82 countries with multiple screen sizes and price points."
Taylor and LG's North American VP of smart TV Samuel Chang called me to rebut my earlier report on the company's purchase of webOS from HP, in which I wrote that LG seemed "hesitant and even confused" about its plans for the troubled operating system. That's not true, said Chang, who said that LG is "very confident webOS technology is a gamechanger when it comes to user experience." Chang said that he sees webOS and its underlying HTML-based Enyo framework as being key to solving the "fragmentation issue" with smart TVs that all have different platforms. As more and more content moves to the web, Chang said he thinks webOS will "really help bringing content back to smart TV, to tablets, PCs, other products."
"The fact that it's not obvious is what makes it innovative."
Chang also said that LG is revamping webOS' touch-based interface for use on TVs, but offered little in the way of specifics. "Our existing TV doesn't have the touch metaphor, but it does have the Magic Remote with pointing functionality and trackwheel," he said. Asked how those would be integrated, Chang demurred, saying that "if it were obvious we wouldn't need this talented full-time staff in Sunnyvale working day and night. The fact that it's not obvious is what makes it innovative."
But Chang and Taylor still refused to comment on the specific features of webOS that would offer tangible consumer benefits in a TV, saying that LG wanted to keep them secret for competitive reasons. "We have a demo running right now," Chang told me. "I would love to show it to you, but I can't." And when I said I still didn't know exactly why LG had bought webOS, Chang simply laughed and said "you don't know because we haven't told you. But we're very confident in our plans." We'll see if that confidence can pay off after another year of development.