Since the very mention of webOS I and many other people have been thoroughly intrigued by what would become of it. Of course, Android stepped in to rain on Palm's parade, but the OS still has many followers and believers that the operating system can survive among the competition.
Of all of the mobile operating systems available today, I would argue that webOS has one the best user interfaces. It is a beautiful and simple, gesture-based interface with clean, rounded corners. The problem has never been the software, but rather the hardware. Coming in two basic forms, the mediocre hardware hasn't yet appealed to the masses. This year though, that should change as several different form factors should be making their way to the market every couple months throughout the year.
One form that everyone has been patiently waiting for more deets on is the webOS tablet, AKA PalmPad. But until last night, I'm sure nobody expected a netbook form running HPalm's super-slick OS. We should have saw it coming. My question is, will a webOS netbook even make sense, much less sell?
We've seen on multiple occasions what tablets have been doing to netbook and latptop sales, and it's only a matter of time before that becomes and even bigger problem. There is a tablet rush approaching and I expect netbooks and laptops to take the brute of the blow. Tablets are faster, more portable, and simply more entertaining. They can accomplish exactly what your smartphone can, just in a more comfortable form factor. Tablets don't exactly have the fully-functioning capabilities of a netbook or desktop computer, but for what they are intended for, they excel with flying colors.
Netbooks are typically for an end user looking for a complete PC experience without having to carry around a 5- to 6-pound laptop. They have all the capabilities of your home computer or larger laptop, but their specs are on the starving side and you're restricted as to what you can accomplish due to hardware limitations. In other words, they can get the job done, but they're not ideal for labor intensive work.
The webOS platform heavily relies on gesture-based input, requiring a touchscreen display. In tablet form, I think webOS will fare decently well. I enjoyed my experience I had with the original Palm Pre and Pre Plus. But like I said, the hardware was lacking. Add a much larger display and a casing similar to that of the Slate, and we might talk, HP.
However, put webOS on a netbook, and you're left without a touchscreen. That takes away your gesturing abilities, which is arguably the best part of webOS. If you add a touchscreen – netbooks typically remain in the $300-$400 range – the price will likely shoot to $500 or more. At that point, it is no longer a netbook and is simply a tablet tethered to a keyboard. And marketing it as a netbook in that price range won't fly with many buyers. Among devices like the ASUS Eee Pad Slider or the Motorola Atrix with dock I can't see a webOS netbook making much sense to anyone.
It honestly depends on how HP and Palm integrate the OS into the netbook and what form factor they give it. Giving keyboard shortcuts and touchpad swipes to replace gestures could make it run fairly smoothly, but just imagine webOS without a touchscreen or not being able to remove the keyboard. It would be a much better idea to release one product – the PalmPad – and offer a detachable keyboard. At least they wouldn't be sacrificing that beloved touchscreen.
What do you guys and gals think? Would a webOS netbook make any sense to you as buyers? Would you consider buying a netbook with a mobile OS over other netbooks or tablets?