RIP WebOS

Looks like the fat lady’s finally sung for WebOS, after this week’s already-disastrous news about Best Buy wanting HP to take its TouchPads back: not only does HP plan to sell off its PC manufacturing side to focus on just software/services, but they’ve also decided to kill off the TouchPad (this year’s biggest tech flop) and WebOS based smartphones. While they claim to be investigating possible future uses for the OS, I’d say WebOS is now deader than Elvis in terms of a future. (Ars Technica has more on today’s HP news here.)

As long-time readers of this blog know, I was fairly enthusiastic about WebOS as an operating system at first, and still view it as a nicely designed, slick looking OS. It was also my first “real” smartphone, and the first I signed a contract for (I was using prepaid Virgin Mobile dumbphones beforehand). I was enthusiastic about the first-generation Palm Pre I bought, and though I had some doubts even then about whether I should go with WebOS over the then-burgeoning Android, at the time (October 2009) I didn’t think Android was polished enough, so I went with the Pre.

Since then, having a smartphone was one of the best purchasing decisions I’ve made, as it’s made many things in my life a lot easier (bus schedule information; an aid on my trips out of town; a portable electronic calendar/notebook; etc.). For that much (and the pleasantness of WebOS), I’ll be grateful. However, the flaws of the Pre soon became too big to ignore—the awful hardware for one, and the lack of support for the OS for another (aka few apps; there’s a reason WebOS has a strong homebrew community). Also not helping were the various other stumbles for WebOS and Palm since late 2009 (the lousy advertising campaign; the sale of Palm to HP, who also stumbled on handling WebOS; etc.), or the explosive growth in Android’s popularity since then. (And yes, my “WebOS shall live on” comments in that last link are quite ironic in retrospect.)

Several months ago, I finally had enough with the phone, and decided to look into an Android phone (Android having greatly improved since late 2009). After some deliberation (and deciding not to wait until August, when my Sprint contract would let me buy a newer phone), I decided to jump to Sprint’s prepaid subsidiary, Virgin Mobile, and bought an Android-based LG Optimus V. Thanks to Android, the phone’s been even more useful than even the Pre was, not to mention the amount of money saved by going back to prepaid. Thus, I haven’t looked back at WebOS since…

And now today’s news; guess I jumped ship just in time. So long, WebOS… it was (for awhile) fun.

PS: HP’s also looking to spin off their PC manufacturing division, just as I’m considering buying a new laptop in 2012. Given I’m not sure if buying another HP laptop during such a transition period’s a good idea, I might be looking at other laptop brands—Lenovo? Acer? Even Dell (after my refurbished laptop experiences)? We’ll see…

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