HP's webOS Boss Encourages Team Through Early Reviews

We didn’t exactly heart the TouchPad. We didn’t hate it, either. We even said that “WebOS and the Palm TouchPad are nearly perfect, an excellent amalgamation of everything that was ever right about Palm.” Granted, perfection in this industry lasts about as long as a battery cycle, and we had plenty to gripe about, but as far as the TouchPad goes, we have hope. But day-one reviews haven’t been as understanding as we were, which has prompted HP’s webOS boss Jon Rubinstein to blast out an internal letter of support to both the TouchPad engineers and the webOS 3.0 development team encouraging them to keep up the work and continue believing in the product.

In the email recovered/leaked by PreCentral, Rubinstein even goes so far as to compare the TouchPad to Mac OS X, which heard words like “sluggish” and “lack of apps” during its first round with critics. “The similarities to our situation are obvious,” writes Rubinstein.

He goes on to note that the developer teams and engineers should place weight on both the harsh reviews and the glowing ones. He explains that the webOS audience “gets that webOS has the potential for greatness,” while maintaining that the flaws pointed out in reviews were “rightly” reported. He comforts the teams by reminding them that many of the issues barked about by critics are already known to the company, and can be fixed with a few simple OTA updates.

The only problem we see with Rubinstein’s plan is that one of the major issues we have with the TouchPad is it’s shoddy performance. Sometimes it’s slick as a whistle, and at other times, it lags like a worn out kid after a day at Disneyworld. An OTA update likely won’t breathe life into that 1.2GHz processor, but luckily, webOS 3.0 really shines on the TouchPad, and any improvements to this beautiful OS are very welcome. And in the words of Rubinstein, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Here’s Rubinstein’s full email to employees:


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.

[via SlashGear]