HP’s Rubinstein addresses TouchPad reviews; Compares webOS to early OS X feedback

Jul 2, 2011
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Ex-Palm CEO and current webOS lead at HP, Jon Rubinstein, has fired out an internal email of support to the TouchPad and webOS 3.0 teams at the company, urging them to keep faith in the product and platform despite mediocre day-one reviews. In the letter, leaked to PreCentral, Rubinstein cites early reviews of Mac OS X in which critics labeled it "sluggish" and derided its lack of apps, going on to say that "similarities to our situation are obvious."

However, the exec also flags up areas in which commentary has been more kind, such as in recognizing the potential of webOS 3.0. "Our audiences get that webOS has the potential for greatness" he suggests, insisting that "most of the issues they cite are already known to us and will be addressed in short order by over-the-air software and app catalog updates."

Consensus on the TouchPad suggested that the hardware could be sluggish at times and, in comparison to slender slates like the iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, felt oversized and somewhat cheap. In our own TouchPad review, we praised the useful accessories like the Touchstone inductive charger but criticized the 1.2GHz dual-core processor as often lagging behind its rivals. The star of the show is undoubtedly webOS 3.0, however, which we said had strengths that in many ways encouraged us to live with the shortcomings of the hardware itself.

No specific release date for the first OTA update for the TouchPad has been given, but the company did tell us it would be a case of weeks rather than months. "We still have work to do to make webOS the platform we know it can be," Rubinstein argues, "but remember…..it’s a marathon, not a sprint."

Team,

Today we bring the HP TouchPad and webOS 3.0 to the world. The HP team has achieved something extraordinary – especially when you consider that it’s been just one year since our work on the TouchPad began in earnest. Today also marks the start of a new era for HP as our vision for connected mobility begins to take form - an ecosystem of services, applications and devices connected seamlessly by webOS.

If you’ve seen the recent TouchPad reviews you know that the industry understands HP’s vision and sees the same potential in webOS as we do. David Pogue from the New York Times says “there are signs of greatness here.” (I’ve included links to David’s review and others below.) You’ve also seen that reviewers rightly note things we need to improve about the webOS experience. The good news is that most of the issues they cite are already known to us and will be addressed in short order by over-the-air software and app catalog updates. We still have work to do to make webOS the platform we know it can be, but remember…..it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

In that spirit, Richard Kerris, head of worldwide developer relations for webOS, reminded me yesterday of the first reviews for a product introduced a little over ten years ago:

"...overall the software is sluggish"
"...there are no quality apps to use, so it won’t last"
"...it's just not making sense...."

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.

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.


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