It’s easy to hold regrets when you live in the past, and this is an affliction that Jon Rubinstein, Palm’s former CEO, knows all too well. In a statement that he made to Fierce Wireless, the late executive expressed his disappointment about how HP handled the acquisition of the mobile company. “Talk about a waste,” added Rubenstein. “If we had known they were just going to shut it down and never really give it a chance to flourish, what would have been the point of selling the company?”
Although the HP takeover is a poor move in hindsight, at the time, the deal was well received by the general public. The partnership between a major mobile player in Palm and an established computing firm in HP, led to plenty of optimism from both of the parties involved. In response to the news, Palm’s share prices rose an astounding 26% the day after the $1.2 billion agreement was finalized.
Unfortunately, HP’s attempts to integrate the webOS operating system into their products resulted in failure. As mentioned by Cnet, webOS simply couldn’t compete with the likes of Apple iOS and Android. Both of these platforms already had widespread usage among smartphone-wielding customers, and the fact that few devices actually supported the Palm software acted as a huge barrier to entry. Over the course of webOS’s existence, the operating system was only ever found on the Pre, Pixi, and Veer handsets, and most recently on the HP TouchPad.
Despite Rubinstein’s criticism of HP’s actions, he refuses to accept responsibility over the decline of Palm. “Palm was dying when I got there,” said Rubinstein, who took control of the business in 2009; just a year prior to HP's takeover in July 2010. “It wasn’t like we had the pick of the litter. Everybody forgets that Palm was pretty much dead when we did the recapitalization. It had no future at the time.”
After HP announced the discontinuation of all webOS devices in August 2011, it seemed as if the software was lost forever. Nevertheless, some insist that the mobile operating system was a major stepping stone for the popular Android and iOS systems of today. Rubenstein explained that important mobile OS features such as multitasking (the way webOS did it) and notifications got their start on the Palm platform.
Now that HP has sold most of Palm’s products to LG, it looks as though webOS’s only chance at survival lies in the television industry. LG is expected to launch a webOS-equipped TV at some point in 2014; however, few details about the project are currently known.