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HP's Rubinstein compares webOS' early state to Mac OS X

updated 06:10 pm EDT, Fri July 1, 2011

HP exec says webOS needs polish like Mac OS X did

HP's Senior VP for Palm Jon Rubinstein in a new memo kicking off the launch of the TouchPad paralleled it to his experience at Apple. After encountering some rough reviews that said the webOS tablet had promise but was buggy, he saw it getting the same reaction as Mac OS X did when it first launched. Early reviewers called OS X 10.0 "sluggish" and complained about a lack of apps, but the OS went on to be Apple's most successful release, PreCentral's copy read.

"It's hard to believe these statements described MacOS X - a platform that would go on to change the landscape of Silicon Valley in ways that no one could have imagined," Rubinstein said in the memo. "The similarities to our situation are obvious, but there's also a big difference. Like David Pogue, our audiences get that webOS has the potential for greatness. And like me, they know that your hard work and passion, and the power of HP's commitment to webOS, will turn that potential into the real thing."

HP has already promised updates within a few weeks that would fix slowdowns and crashes. For those that wouldn't be addressed right away, there was still work coming. "It's a marathon, not a sprint," the executive said.

Rubinstein has had a long connection with Apple and would be familiar with the Mac's early start on a new platform. He first worked with Steve Jobs designing hardware in the NeXT era and was brought over in 1997 at a time well before Mac OS X was shipping. Much of his tenure saw him simplifying and improving the Mac computer lineup, including during the early Mac OS X years when performance and compatibility were still sore points.

The executive retired from Apple in 2006 only to join Palm shortly after and orchestrate a revival much like that at his old employer. Palm continued to struggle but was successful enough that it attracted the interest of HP and a buyout last spring.

by MacNN Staff



  1. prl99

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Just because they started out the same way doesn't mean they will finish that way.

  1. sdfalk

    Joined: Dec 1969


    ..Re: so

    ...And since competition is good for business, I hope at least one company gives Apple a real run for their money. It's just going to continue to encourage improvements at Apple.
    So I say..hurrah to a (hopefully) long life for the Touchpad, and even better things coming from Apple as a

  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Competition is good

    HP pushing WebOS is a good thing. Anything that helps prevent another lousy Microsoft product like Tamango (or whatever it's called) getting increasing market share is entirely welcome. iOS, Android, WebOS... buh-bye Ballmer!

  1. The Vicar

    Joined: Dec 1969


    "Like Mac OS X 10.0"

    You mean WebOS is replacing an existing OS from HP which has millions of users, and it carefully provides both dual-boot and compatability-box-within-the-OS for the previous, incompatible version? No? Then the metaphor doesn't really hold very well, now does it?

  1. glideslope

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The Vicar

    VERY solid point.

  1. thnikkaman

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I would honestly like to see WebOS overtake Android, because Android is just pure garbage. I've played with WebOS a bit and it's got some neat features that seem less of a ripoff of iOS and more innovative than they are given credit for. The cards interface is actually pretty cool once you learn how it works. I think that if HP plays its cards right, WebOS could become my preference behind iOS. The main thing is that it's not Android.

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Maybe Google can copy webOS now

    The original Android phone was a cheesy ripoff of the BlackBerry. Same plastic keyboard, same small screen. Then iPhone hit. And Google had something newer and better to copy.

    I wonder if, after the Oracle lawsuit forces Google to re-write Android to use real Java, Google will see fit to copy some of webOS' features as well. They're completely shameless, so it seems like an obvious move for them.

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The original Android phone(s)

    They were button-phones. With all manner of Palm-like and BlackBerry-like fixed and sliding keyboards.

  1. qazwart

    Joined: Dec 1969


    One little problem...

    Mac OS X did have many limitations, but showed lots of promise. However, at the same time they were competing against Windows XP which was beginning to show exactly how rough it was around the edges: IE 6.0 was terrible and security issues were beginning to threaten the OS. If Microsoft came out with Windows 7 a year later, Mac OS X would have been just a side show.

    Fortunately for Apple, they could do incremental improvements to Mac OS X while Microsoft ended up struggling for five years getting Vista out the door. By the time Vista was ready, Mac OS X was a solid operating system. Meanwhile, Vista itself proved to be half baked. Although it had lots of great internal improvements, the user OS left much to be desired.

    WebOS might not have such a chance. It's competing against a strong iOS and Android. The problem is that WebOS isn't a new OS like Mac OS X, but is about two years old, and HP had been working on it for the last year. It should have been more solid. I give them three, maybe four months to get the kinks out, or else WebOS will be an also ran system. That would be sad because WebOS has a lot of good stuff in it.

    Then again, I liked Windows 7 Phone, but it came out without cut-and-paste and many other issues, and didn't come out with an update for months. Even Windows Fanboys were criticizing Microsoft on it. W7P could have been a contender if Microsoft wasn't too busy fighting with itself over everything.

  1. macnews1

    Joined: Dec 1969


    not android

    I hope WebOS does well, so long as it can over take Android which just gives me shivers everytime I use it.

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