back to article LG acquires webOS from HP – but not for mobile kit

Foster-child operating system webOS has been placed in yet another home – but not one in which it will be used for its original smartphone raison d'être. LG Electronics will acquire the peripatetic OS from HP, which got its hands on webOS when it acquired Palm in April 2010 for a cool $1.2bn. Palm had used webOS for its ill- …


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  1. Waspy

    The best mobile OS in my view...

    RIP webOS, I will remember thee! Actually, I can't really forget you, I still use my Pre 3 every day. Despite some missing features I just much prefer it to any other mobile OS...there's something really satisfying about swiping between writing an email, reading a website and replying to a text message so fluidly. It's definitely a case of the public not knowing what they are missing...most of them don't really understand the concept of proper multi tasking as they've been spoonfed the idea of a crappy launcher screen and tombstoning (and in iOS' case, deleting endless wobbly icons from a tray every few hours to 'close' stuff - how is that intutive?). You actually really miss it when you are using a device without proper multitasking. And then there is Synergy (since seen in Windows Phone) - just type in your account details and it pulls in all of the relevant content for that account (whether it's Facebook, Gmail or Yahoo). It's genius, and I can't believe people are still importing contacts from their desktop on rival systems. Oh and then there is Just Type, where you simply type what you want and decide what to do with the text after (start writing and then tap the message or email button...or simply search with that string). No prodding at app icons with webOS, you just get on with it.

    Reading between the tea leaves, perhaps LG will see fit to trying it out on a phone in the future...but probably not. webOS joins AmigaOS as a best-in-class OS that just didn't get sold properly. A real shame.

    1. jason 7

      Re: The best mobile OS in my view...

      I must admit I have to agree. I've used all the mobile OSs around at the moment and WebOS is still the slickest and easiest to use. It just has a fluidity and understated slickness that the others just don't currently match.

      A case of concentrating on the real OS fundamentals rather than the bells and whistles.

    2. ThomH

      Re: The best mobile OS in my view...

      AmigaOS didn't even get a standard widget set until 1990 and never had protected memory. One therefore has to question the designation of 'best in class' when e.g. OS/2 supplied both in 1988.

      Android, iOS and other handset OSes are designed so that the user never explicitly closes programs. That's why it isn't particularly intuitive on either of them — whether it's iOS's long press or Android's digging through the system settings. Thinking that you need to close programs is akin to a superstitious belief.

      It is sad that people didn't want WebOS but it was pushed very heavily, with TV commercials featuring U2 and deliberate public spats with Apple (ending up in the USB Implementers Forum if memory serves) to get the bloggers on side. People simply didn't want it, because 'proper multitasking' actually isn't a feature they care about. The availability of Angry Birds, Temple Run, etc, is more interesting. Consumers are more interested in the total sum of what they can do with a device than with the technical way in which it is done.

      1. Andrew Baines Silver badge

        Closing apps because

        If you don't do a little housekeeping, swapping between applications becomes a chore as the list just gets longer and longer.

        Android does a decent job if switching, as does the BB PlayBook/OS10. iOS is horrid for switching.

      2. Vic

        Re: The best mobile OS in my view...

        > It is sad that people didn't want WebOS

        I don't think you can say they didn't want it - people just didn't want to buy the devices available at the price they were initially offered.

        Once HP dropped their tablet price to £99, you couldn't find any unsold...


  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As if smart TVs weren't clunky enough. LG is now putting a HTML based app system onto a TV. Sounds rather bad to me.

    A touch screen OS on a TV is pretty sucky too.

    1. Waspy

      Ever heard of Kinect?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good luck to LG

    But frankly, WebOS on the Touchpad is utter garbage.

    When I first read this article, about LG buying WebOS, I did so on a firesale Touchpad 32GB and the browser had already crashed twice. I know it's just an app, so not a true reflection of the entire OS, and the crash-happy app could have been fixed with an update, but as a consumer I wouldn't go near WebOS again in future. Since we're talking about the browser constantly crashing in an OS that calls itself WebOS, you'd think the web experience would have been utterly top notch, but it's very far from it.

    Anyone with any lingering affection for WebOS may want to read the history of its shambolic development. Software development at Palm was always a mess, so no real surprise to discover that their great hope was equally so.

    I won't be surprised if LG bin WebOS completely after 6 months trying to make it work.

    1. P. Lee

      Re: Good luck to LG

      Not sure about the OS, but the GUI outshines all the others for tablet use.

    2. greensun

      Re: Good luck to LG

      Your main point is utter garbage - "This OS is rubbish because my browser crashed" ?! "Badly supported" maybe, "Shambolically developed" maybe.

      Your last two paras are "correct" and "probably correct" though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good luck to LG

        Your main point is utter garbage - "This OS is rubbish because my browser crashed" ?! "Badly supported" maybe, "Shambolically developed" maybe.

        I don't suppose you've realised that when the browser crashes in WebOS, literally every other running application also crashes in unison? When the browser has to restart, so does the email and any other HTML5 based application you happen to be running. I guess this is the downside of HTML5 apps, or more specifically the WebOS implementation of HTML5, that when your web runtime/container is flaky and crash happy it's not just a single application that will be affected, it's going to be all of them.

        This is why the browser being shite in WebOS is a major problem. The OS is only as good as its browser which should have been setting the gold standard for application quality but is sadly riddled with basic stability bugs. In addition to random crashes, the Flash plugin will stop working unpredictably until the device is rebooted, and this is all assuming the WiFi network stack hasn't crapped out again for no apparent reason while you try to load a new web page resulting in a cryptic error message.

        WebOS is just lipstick on a pig - it's a nice GUI to be sure, but underneath it's nothing special at all. And the gestures that WebOS devotees are so proud of will be done better by other platforms with a much brighter future than WebOS.

  4. heynownow

    Isn't it open source

    Does this mean HP had sold off gram ? Will this influence community development on Openwebos? I have a firesale touchpad and starting and shutting down times does not make it an ideal rtos for a tv platform

    1. Zola

      Re: Isn't it open source

      Does this mean HP had sold off gram ? Will this influence community development on Openwebos?

      WebOS Dev Relations tweeted the following last night:

      We're happy to report that the Open webOS and Enyo open source projects will continue under the stewardship of @LGElectronics

      So it looks like LG will continue to develop Open WebOS, although as you are a Touchpad owner it will make no different to you as there will be no official Open WebOS released for Touchpads. This was, IMHO, the final absurdity of the HP open source WebOS strategy, to completely ignore up to 1 million devices that could have jump started interest in a dying (if not already dead) platform.

      If you're lucky (?) there might be a Franken-version of Open Web OS for Touchpads hacked together by the community, but honestly, what would be the point when there is no future for this platform on tablets (certainly not now, and if WebOS fans are brutally honest with themselves, there probably never was prior to this LG sale).

      The best option now for Touchpad owners is to hope that a build of Ubuntu for Tablets materialises, or just cut your losses and flash it with Android.

  5. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    ::frustratedly throws arms into air::

    Fuck it. That's it.

  6. Matt Bryant Silver badge


    If they retain the ability to run Android (and potentially therefore Linux) apps, this could be an interesting setup.

  7. Miss Lincolnshire


    It's a shame that LG have no tablet or mobile plans. I have two 32GB Touchpads and I love WebOS. It's fast, intuitive and simple to use. The email GUI is great and very simple to set up. I tried Android on one of them and took it off again, it was so slow and cluinky in comparison.

    The only real WebOS weakness for me was that the native ability to play back movie formats was very limited. But that was easily remedied with an app that cost less than £5.

    The Touchpad was a great opportunity missed for HP purely because it was overpriced at the time. Shame.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WebOS is a great tablet OS and user experience, coming from someone who was lucky enough to get a firesale TouchPad.

    HP after they ousted Hurd had no idea of what to do with WebOS. As other posters have commented this kind of reminds me of when Gateway bought Amiga but didn't have a clue what to do with it. In the end Gateway were too scared with going against Microsoft at the time and stayed a me too company. HP have always made Windows devices, printers etc. Did they have the innovative nous to take WebOS forward? Obviously not. HP are a me too company look at their range of Windows 8 tablets and the recent Android tablet still running Android 4.1.1. Not exactly earth shattering.

    LG buying WebOS for TV's could be interesting. Maybe we could have a WebOS/Kinect hybrid a gesture driven 60" OLED screen where you literally throw away the channel you are watching. Or maybe even a Wii U style WebOS powered remote control.

    If the worst comes to the worst. I am guessing that LG can always use Palm/WebOS patents to protect themselves from the Android police (Apple, Microsoft).

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: AC

      ".....Did they have the innovative nous to take WebOS forward? Obviously not. HP are a me too company....." You obviously missed the bit about hp being a diversified group, across a whole range of products other than just tablets. For instance, they're the third largest software company in the World, so probably not too bad at that software thing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: AC

        As they say size isn't everything. 3rd largest? It might be worth checking that out.. Even if there is another metric. HP shares tanked originally when it said about splitting off the hardware division to become a software/services house. So good luck with that.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          Re: AC Re: AC

          "....." You should read your own link, it explains that the Forbes listing is a calculation based on four metrics, not one measure. But, if you like Wiki links, please go take a look at some of the following.

          List of the World's largest information technology companies:

 << hp in third, above IBM in fifth, Dell in eigth, Oracle not even in the top ten.

          List of the World's companies by revenue:

 << hp in at 38, IBM at 52, Dell and Oracle not even in the ranking.

          ".....HP shares tanked originally when it said about splitting off the hardware division to become a software/services house....." And, finally, what really matters - what the market thinks!

          Fortune 500 listing:

 << hp at number ten, IBM at nineteen, Dell at 44, Oracle at 82 (they finally made someone's list!).

  9. AJames

    Great, maybe we'll finally get a Netflix app for TouchPad

    I've had a TouchPad with WebOS for about 18 months, and I quite like it. I use it mainly for simple purposes like portable web browsing, reading pdfs, checking email, checking my calendar, Skype video calls, listening to music on Pandora, occasionally watching video. For those purposes, it works fine. I also have an iPod Touch, and I find WebOS a bit more convenient to use than iOS. But honestly I don't think WebOS will make any difference at all as a TV operating system. It's advantages are all about touch operation and multi-tasking on a phone or tablet. Behind the GUI it's just another form of Linux, which is what all the TV operating systems are. I'm not sure what advantage LG would see in building their custom TV GUI on top of WebOS instead of Linux.

  10. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Still curious....

    Why wouldn't LG offer it as another option on phones?

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