When WebOS started development, it was ambitious: Palm originally intended for the operating system to be based on common Web technology, WebKit. That through up plenty of issues, sure, but the reasoning was sound. The idea was to make it easy to create software for the device, which Palm hoped would attract programmers to make WebOS apps.
Sadly, it didn't quite work out like that.
Paul Mecer, former senior director of software at Palm, explained to the New York Times that Palm "just weren't able to execute such an ambitious and breakthrough design." In fact, he's even more fatalistic than that. "Perhaps it never could have been executed," he continued, "because the technology wasn't there yet."
But others involved with the operating system have gone further in pointing out the problems with WebOS which were evident from the start. One HP employee, who declined to be named because he still had some ties with the firm, told the New York Times that "there were neither the right leaders nor the right engineers to do the job." Despite the concept behind the OS being sound, Palm and HP simply failed to capitalize on its promise.
There's more—much more—to the backstory over at NYT, and the full detailing is definitely worth a read. But more important than the flawed platform's past is its open source future, where hopefully lies the chance to realize webOS's potential and forget its muddled start. [New York Times]