On Sunday, the New York Times detailed one of the biggest technology flops of 2011 – the webOS TouchPad from Hewlett-Packard. It's a pretty good review of all the things that went wrong, beginning with decisions made prior to the first Palm Pre device.
Nothing exactly new here, however, we are starting to hear from people who have now moved on from Palm and HP.
Paul Mercer, former senior director of software at Palm is quoted saying, "we just weren't able to execute such an ambitious and breakthrough design." Mercer cites the core decision to base webOS on WebKit as a major factor in making webOS flounder out of the gate because it prevented apps from running as fast as competitors like iPhone.
Another factor was finding developers who had not already been gobbled up by Apple and Google.
The NYT blog provides a little more light on the subject with a quote from Chuq Von Rospach, a former WebOS community manager. He wrote in his blog:
"During my tenure at Palm/HP — just under three years — I had six direct managers, averaging about 5 months per, ranging from a first level manager to directors to a couple of VPs. I reported to, or up to, eight different VPs in that time. One of my direct managers (the last one) and two of those VPs are still with HP. Does that give you a sense of how well things were going in the organization? yeah, I think it does. Apple in the worst of days — the dark, damp days of Spindler that made you want to wake up screaming, but you couldn't because you weren't asleep — were never as bad as these last few months in Leoville. Seriously."