WebOS Dies Again

by Ostatic Staff - Feb. 15, 2013

I always had high hopes for the Palm WebOS. I even owned a Palm Pre briefly, but returned it when I found the signal at my house was too low. Even though the mobile operating system had fewer features, I always thought that WebOS was superior to Android, at least in terms of usability and design. I’m still jealous of how you could swipe up to view all open apps as “cards”, and swipe between them to choose your next app. Unfortunately, it is not always the best technology that wins the market, and now ZDNet is predicting that HP is dropping WebOS in favor of Android.

WebOS survives, in a manner of speaking, as Open webOS, and seems to enjoy lively developer involvement. The code is hosted on GitHub, and the last updates were all between one day and six months ago. But, without support from a major manufacturer, where is Open webOS going to live? Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has a bleak outlook on the project:

HP then promised that to open source WebOS and all would be well with it. Yeah. Right. HP soon made it clear that they were dumping WebOS and had no intention of doing anything with it on their own hardware.

HP has been going through some major transitional phases recently as it struggles to keep up with the market. While HP is a bit player, for now, in the mobile market, they are still a powerhouse in the data center. I had hopes that webOS could make it into servers in one way or another, and perhaps they could do the same with Android. HP’s iLO on-board administrator is, like most enterprise software, woefully outdated. What could HP have done, or what could they do with Android, to make managing their hardware more interesting?

I’ve thought for a while that bluetooth integration could be leveraged for some interesting things in the data center. Or maybe cellular connectivity for the servers to phone home in case of a hardware error? (To be honest, I’d probably turn this off.) I heard rumor that HP was looking at integrating webOS into their printers, so who knows what other possible uses they were looking at.

Palm has lived many lives, all of them plagued by the near miss, the almost a hit. Now, with HP abandoning them, it looks like the last remnants of Palm will be lost. It is possible, of course, that, like a cat with nine lines, webOS might just turn up again as a competitor. Unfortunately, if the project isn’t dead yet, it may be more like a zombie than a cat.