New leaks suggest WebOS had fundamental design problems

New leaks suggest WebOS had fundamental design problems
The WebOS saga has played out to a rapt audience – HP’s $1.2 billion dollar acquisition, the unrealized expectations of the Pre smartphone, and the short-lived but spectacular flop of the TouchPad. Fans of WebOS questioned whether the flop was a lack of commitment from then-CEO Leo Apotheker, who seemed more interested in turning HP away from consumer-facing products.

According to current and prior employees that spoke to the New York Times, there may be another reason why HP struggled to get good products out the door: WebOS itself has fundamental design flaws.

WebOS was created in under a year, and apparently several shortcuts were taken. One example was the lack of APIs for developers to use. The original WebOS apps were created in house from scratch, and only after it shipped did a set of APIs get retrofitted to WebOS.

Paul Mercer, former senior director of software at Palm, indicated that the problems in WebOS lay deeper still. While much has been said about the forward-looking nature of Palm’s use of the WebKit platform that WebOS is built on (the same software platform that Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome browsers are built on) Mercer cited this as a key mistake. According to Mercer this prevents WebOS devices from achieving the interactivity and app speed seen on the iPhone and Android devices.

HP put a lot of resources into upgrading WebOS’s underlying code, but despite shipping with a powerful 1.2GHz dual-core CPU the TouchPad was consistently criticized for being significantly slower than competing tablets.

Mercer feels that the web-based mobile operating system will continue to prevent it from competing with the level of interactivity seen in other top mobile platforms, stating “If the bar is to build Cupertino-class software in terms of responsiveness and beauty, WebKit remains not ready for prime time, because the Web cannot deliver yet.”

source: NY Times via electronista



1. snowgator

Posts: 3624; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

Wow. HP is really in a bad way. Got the feeling this is a dead horse, and those of us that used it should just enjoy the memories......

2. Gdrye

Posts: 111; Member since: Jan 02, 2012

i never really liked web os do to the fact that it was slow. but for a rushed product i think it turned out pretty well...but damn was it slow

3. rob5150

Posts: 183; Member since: Oct 31, 2011 a 99$ touchpad and applied the tweaks and patches and sped it up alot. Mostly by stopping alot of logging and reporting software running in the background.. and paying a couple dollars on a better browser.but, right now I'm typing this on my touchpad running anDroid cyanogen

4. vijaysivakula

Posts: 229; Member since: Aug 17, 2011

I love my Pre 3 and WebOS. Hasnt fallen short of any iOS or Android device. All these are statements to diminish the value of the OS to jack up the value of others.

7. snowgator

Posts: 3624; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

Oh, for the chance to just have seen and played around with a Pre 3. You are a lucky person, vijaysivakula. ;-D

5. speckledapple

Posts: 902; Member since: Sep 29, 2011

That is why they should have taken their time. Companies are so fast to get something out that is half of what it should be. Patience is a virtue and HP should have done that with WebOS. I think they would have provided a much more compelling product if they took the time. Hopefully their recent move with webOS will certainly provide something truly beautiful in the future.

6. snowgator

Posts: 3624; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

If so, I would at least check it out.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.
FCC OKs Cingular's purchase of AT&T Wireless