Last Thursday, HP announced that it will be killing the TouchPad tablet, as well as the WebOS smartphones. The news came as a surprise to some individuals in the tech and mobile industry, considering that the TouchPad hit the shelves just a mere month and a half ago. Were TouchPad sales really that abysmal that HP just decided to euthanize the business altogether? Then there’s the question of what will happen to users who already purchased the WebOS devices; since there would be no more upgrades and no more support, wouldn’t that make their devices practically useless?
Yes, there were definitely a lot of questions that followed HP’s announcement last week. Bloggers were posting and tweeting solemn obituaries left and right. Even though the industry didn’t really talk about WebOS as much as it did about iOS or Android, you can tell, simply by observing the blogosphere’s reaction, that tech and mobile geeks everywhere still regarded the platform with some sort of fondness, and that no one really wanted it to fail.
What was wrong with WebOS anyway?
As someone who owned a WebOS phone for over a year, I could honestly say that I really liked—almost loved my phone back then. Its smooth and sleek interface could almost compete with the iPhone, and the device handled multi-tasking quite well. In fact, I think that WebOS had the best system when it came to running multiple tasks and apps. So what made me trade in my handy WebOS Pixi for an Android? Well, as fabulous as it was, the platform couldn’t really shake off the “meh” factor. For one, its app selection wasn’t great at all. As CNET so aptly put it, while WebOS phones, “matched many of the iPhone’s core capabilities, and in some ways exceeded them, it never fostered the developer community that propelled the iPhone into a new-age Swiss Army knife. The lack of applications was a critical mistake that dogged WebOS until its end.” Sure, it had the basics: Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, Foursquare, and Angry Birds, but that was pretty much it. I switched to Android because I longed for the Zynga and Pop Cap games. I wanted the fancy barcode scanner app, and I wanted to video chat with my Android and iPhone friends. HP just couldn’t offer those things. The programs that the Apple App Store and Android Market offered not only trumped the ones from HP in terms of numbers, they were also updated more frequently.
Another reason that made me let go of WebOS was its speed. I’m not quite sure what happened, but towards the end, I couldn’t run two apps at once without my phone giving me an error message. How was I supposed to listen to music, and text, and surf the web all at the same time? It was sad, and it pretty much drove me to jump ship. Not to mention, my snooty Android and iOS friends wouldn’t stop teasing me.
All it needed was a chance
Reading the discussions about the death of the WebOS devices, I could tell that a lot of people share my sentiments. Users of WebOS truly believed in the platform. It was a great operating system, and it would’ve been phenomenal, had HP brought in the apps, and made it more power user-friendly. We saw its potential, and we knew that it could’ve competed with the bigger players in the industry. Unfortunately, HP didn’t seem to think so.