Hugh Pickens writes writes: "The TouchPad tablet from Hewlett-Packard turned out to be the year’s biggest flop but now the NY Times reports that some of the people involved in creating WebOS, the tablet’s core software, now say the product never had a fighting chance because it relied on WebKit, an open-source software engine used by browsers to display Web pages, that just didn't have the horsepower to run fast enough to be on par with the iPhone. “Palm was ahead of its time in trying to build a phone software platform using Web technology, and we just weren’t able to execute such an ambitious and breakthrough design,” says Paul Mercer, who oversaw the interface design of WebOS and recruited crucial members of the team. “Perhaps it never could have been executed because the technology wasn’t there yet.” Another problem was the difficulty in finding programmers who had a keen understanding of WebKit as Apple and Google snatched up most of the top talent including Matias Duarte, vice president of human interface and user experience for WebOS, who left for Google a month after HP's acquisition of Palm. “When he left, the vacuum was just palpable. What you’re seeing is frankly a bunch of fourth- and fifth-stringers jumping onto WebOS in the wake of Duarte’s leaving.” CEO Meg Whitman has announced that HP will release the WebOS code for anyone to use, similar to Google’s open-source strategy with Android but some say WebKit will still leave WebOS underpowered relative to Apple’s software. “If the bar is to build Cupertino-class software in terms of responsiveness and beauty,” says Mercer, “WebKit remains not ready for prime time, because the Web cannot deliver yet.”"
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