HP’s WebOS: a second chance in LG’s Smart TV?

Junko Yoshida

January 07, 2014

Junko YoshidaJanuary 07, 2014

LAS VEGAS — LG Electronics has breathed new life into webOS -- a mobile operating system originally developed by Palm. The OS was acquired by Hewlett Packard at whopping $1.2 billion in the spring of 2010, but the project -- HP’s smartphones and tablets based on webOS -- was discontinued only a year later in the midst of turmoil among HP’s management.

This time around, the storied OS, after its tormented history, is redesigned as an operating system that powers the Korean giant’s new smart TV platform. The webOS development team formerly at HP -- estimated to be a few hundred engineers -- found a new home at LG’s Silicon Valley Lab based in Santa Clara, Calif.

Making TVs smarter without complexity
LG announced Monday the company’s commitment to webOS, with plans to use it for more than 50% of the company’s new TV models.

Describing webOS as crucial to “make smart TVs simple again,” Scott Ahn, LG Electronics CTO, said that it offers “simple connection setup, simple switching between TV apps and simple discovery.”

The new user interface, which deploys an animated character to aid the user through connectivity setup, has a clean look. And it’s definitely cute. 

But how much it actually simplifies consumers’ smart TV operations remains to be seen.

Unlike the smartphones that have come to dominate the mobile handset market, smart TVs have yet to take the world by storm. Consumers who just want to relax in front of a TV often find the demands of smart TV too complicated.

Rewind the clock back to early the 1990s.

TV manufacturers went through a decade long spat with the cable guys who were armed with interactive digital cable set-top boxes. PC companies were trying every which way to push PCs in the living room.

In subsequent years, TV set vendors themselves have scrambled to come up with Internet connected TVs -- whose iterations include Web TV, Internet TV, IPTV, and smart TV (some using Android as its OS, and others adopting Google-designed Google TV).

None succeeded in smart TV yet
As recent as over the last few years, there have been persistent rumors about a new Apple TV, which die-hard Apple fans hope might change the consumer TV experience once and for all. Not to be outdone, earlier last year, Intel made public that the chip giant would be creating an IPTV service along with a custom software and hardware platform to deliver it direct to consumers. But in less than a year, Intel reportedly called it quits -- due to an absence of CEO support and the chip company’s lack of media power. The latest word on the grapevine is that Intel is talking with Verizon about selling off its Intel Media division -- complete with the IPTV program.

To read more go to “Moving Target.

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