Today, HP showed just how little they cared about WebOS. In the third paragraph of a press release about the acquisition of some other company, they said: "In addition, HP reported that it plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones. HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward." In their earnings call, HP spent a minute or two explaining that after releasing one tiny low-end WebOS phone (the HP Veer) and six weeks after releasing a WebOS tablet (the HP TouchPad), WebOS was somehow not making gangbusters money, and should be killed. Now, onto some enterprise printer news.
Long-time readers may recall that I was a huge PalmOS fan for many years, using their phones well past their sell-by date because I loved the keyboard, I loved the openness of the OS, and I loved the vast numbers of applications. Then PalmOS gave way to WebOS, and my experiences with that rewrite were... not good... causing me to finally, regrettably give up on my Palm brand-loyalty and jump ship to the iPhone.
Even though I gave up on them years ago, I do still feel a twinge of sadness. It's like when your favorite band releases a string of shitty albums late in their career, and then announce that they're breaking up. You haven't listened to them for years, but it still bums you out.
But there's one thing that WebOS got right that iPhone still gets incredibly, shockingly wrong, and it still puzzles me why they haven't caught up. (Maybe the answer is patents. Maybe it's just hubris. Who knows.) Anyway, it's this:
The WebOS "Messaging" app was transport-agnostic.
When someone sent you a message, it didn't make a fuss about how that message arrived. SMS? AIM? Jabber? Who cares. All of those messages showed up in the same interface, in a single list, grouped under the sender's name (assuming both their AIM handle and their phone number were in your address book card). When you replied to a message, it would default to sending it back using the same transport that the last message came in on.
This was genius, and I seriously miss it. It's the only thing about WebOS that I miss, and it's the only feature that no other phone has yet cloned.
The IM situation on iPhone is so bleak that I've just given up on using it entirely. When I'm away from my desktop, I only use SMS and am unreachable by AIM/Jabber/whatnot. That's bogus, but the various other IM apps on iPhone are so relentlessly terrible -- and require incessant fiddling-with instead of just being always-on -- that I decided that I just didn't care enough.
So that's what I miss most about Palm. The UI of the Palm Pre "Messaging" app. I can't believe that hasn't become the standard way of doing things everywhere yet.
Well, also I miss that when I had a Treo, I was essentially carrying around an original toaster-Mac in my pocket, architecturally speaking. Yeah, an iPhone is arguably more like a Cray XMP, but come on, a toaster-Mac phone. That's cool.