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5 reasons why WebOS doesn't make the cut

Last updated on: September 6, 2011 12:37 IST

5 reasons why WebOS doesn't make the cut

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Kartheek Pathuri

Get Ahead reader Kartheek Pathuri explains why WebOS, despite its superior features, lags Apple's iOS and Google's Android platform in response to our reader invite (below).

Kartheek has done his BTech in Electronics and Communications Engineering from SASTRA University, India and later MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey -- New Brunswick.

WebOS is one of the innovative mobile OS platforms out there with a very unique interface. In fact it's card UI concepts have been adapted (copied) by other companies too. Palm's proprietary OS which is now HP's hasn't been very revenue generating though.

After what Apple did in 2007 with the iPhone -- yeah they snatched market share from every other smart-phone manufacturer all the mobile phone companies went crazy. Palm was one of them. Palm has seen some tremendous success in its time with Palm OS and devices like the Treo and Centro.

However, the introduction of new devices to compete with the iPhone in 2009, viz. Palm Pre and then Palm Pixi later could hardly make a statement, irrespective of their aggressive yet unappealing marketing. HP saw use in WebOS and wanted to revive its mobile phone business and went on to acquire Palm to lead to one of the major acquisitions in the tech industry. HP now plans to embed WebOS into printers and PCs too.

Sure, there is tremendous potential in WebOS. In fact, its SDK is rated as one of the best platforms to develop for, on par with iOS SDK. Yet, most WebOS devices are still sitting in stores waiting for consumers to grab them.

Following are the reasons why WebOS could not make it...

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kartheek pathuri

Reader invite

Are you a gadget/gaming wizard/afficianado? Would you like to write on gadgets, gaming, the Internet, software technologies, OSs and the works for us? Send us a sample of your writing to gadgetsandgaming@rediffmail.com with the subject as 'I'm a tech wizard/afficianado' and we will get in touch with you.



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5 reasons why WebOS doesn't make the cut

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1. Attracting developers / Mediocre app content

As earlier mentioned, WebOS does have a developer-friendly SDK. But it has certainly failed to attract many developers. The success of any mobile OS platform is directly proportional, to say the least, to the quality and quantity of the apps on it.

The success of iOS and Android has always been directly linked to its App Store and App Market, respectively. On the other hand, WebOS has a mediocre (Mediocre? You kidding me? I was just being polite!) app store. It's in the news that HP is now gearing up by attracting developers to develop apps equivalent of the other platforms.

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Reader invite

Are you a gadget/gaming wizard/afficianado? Would you like to write on gadgets, gaming, the Internet, software technologies, OSs and the works for us? Send us a sample of your writing to gadgetsandgaming@rediffmail.com with the subject as 'I'm a tech wizard/afficianado' and we will get in touch with you.



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5 reasons why WebOS doesn't make the cut

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2. Operator collaboration

Mobile phones in the US and most European countries are sold with the concept of subsidy. There is a contract involved thus discounting the price of the device which the operator charges indirectly over a period of say two years. This might look irrelevant to the readers from India and other countries but trust me it is not.

Only the success of a device in it's primary and initial target markets will compel the manufacturers to foray into other markets or countries if you will. The reason Palm Pres and Pixis have not seen the light of day (or even the darkness of night) in India is because it was a disaster in the North American market.

Palm stuck to Sprint for a very long time, which itself was a sinking ship (nah, it was a paper boat and still is). Apple on the other hand first approached Verizon and then Cingular (now AT&T) and was exclusive to AT&T for almost four years. That was a wise choice and the rest is history.

Though WebOS devices are offered on almost all operators in the US now, it will take a while to recover from the Sprint exclusivity debacle.

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Are you a gadget/gaming wizard/afficianado? Would you like to write on gadgets, gaming, the Internet, software technologies, OSs and the works for us? Send us a sample of your writing to gadgetsandgaming@rediffmail.com with the subject as 'I'm a tech wizard/afficianado' and we will get in touch with you.



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5 reasons why WebOS doesn't make the cut

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3.  Appeal / Form factor of devices

Sure they are cute. But that is the problem. Palm's devices have always been uni-sexual in their appeal. I am not saying the Palm Pre is entirely feminine, but honestly the device appealed more to the fairer sex.

Also, the size and unnecessary inclusion (many would think otherwise) of a physical qwerty keyboard could have reduced the overall appeal of WebOS devices.

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Reader invite

Are you a gadget/gaming wizard/afficianado? Would you like to write on gadgets, gaming, the Internet, software technologies, OSs and the works for us? Send us a sample of your writing to gadgetsandgaming@rediffmail.com with the subject as 'I'm a tech wizard/afficianado' and we will get in touch with you.



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5 reasons why WebOS doesn't make the cut

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4. Touch feedback

WebOS devices have a very unique haptic feedback. Let me explain.

When you click on an app or just any empty space on the screen, the screen responds by making few concentric circles at the point of contact.

Feedback is very essential in devices especially the ones with touch screens because we humans have seen some horrible touch screens in our times (read resistive touch screens), but this feedback is unsatisfying and inconsistent.

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Are you a gadget/gaming wizard/afficianado? Would you like to write on gadgets, gaming, the Internet, software technologies, OSs and the works for us? Send us a sample of your writing to gadgetsandgaming@rediffmail.com with the subject as 'I'm a tech wizard/afficianado' and we will get in touch with you.



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5 reasons why WebOS doesn't make the cut

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5. Marketing

Remember that Palm Pre commercial with that cute lady. Yeah I know, how can you forget that, and that too for all the bad reasons. The ads were irrelevant and did not portray what the device can actually do.

Also, the mention of Sprint itself is a deal breaker, now that is going back to point 2.

Well, Palm, that is not the way you introduce a revolutionary product (at least they thought so). HP has to learn a lesson or two from Apple in terms of marketing (and millions of lessons in other categories).

Apple's commercials are subtle and to the point and there are no beautiful ladies to distract your attention. The device is the only form of beauty and elegance on the screen.

I know there are many Palm / HP fans out their waiting for the right WebOS device to be launched and released in their respective countries. Let's hope the next iteration of WebOS devices strikes gold.

I don't see any success for HP with the TouchPad or the Pre 3 or the Veer.

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Reader invite

Are you a gadget/gaming wizard/afficianado? Would you like to write on gadgets, gaming, the Internet, software technologies, OSs and the works for us? Send us a sample of your writing to gadgetsandgaming@rediffmail.com with the subject as 'I'm a tech wizard/afficianado' and we will get in touch with you.



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