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Cable Technology Feature Article

January 02, 2014

LG Set to Debut WebOS-based Smart TV

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

Remember webOS? The proprietary operating system developed by PDA pioneer Palm to resurrect its fortunes in a smartphone era? It’s back and being ported to LG smart TVs that are expected to be shown at next week’s CES 2014 show. A new leaked photo appears to confirm that expectation.

When the iPhone (News - Alert) debuted in 2008, it marked a new, touch-enabled era that left many formerly market-leading vendors struggling to keep up. Nokia, Blackberry and Motorola all faltered; but Palm’s legacy of personal digital assistants (PDAs) were truly obsolete when computing functionality came to mobile devices. It developed webOS to leapfrog into the smart device, applications-heavy world, but nonetheless failed to get past the Palm Pilot-sized albatross around its neck. A much-hyped 2009 launch of the webOS-enabled Palm Pre went nowhere (even as Motorola (News - Alert) was making a big comeback with the Droid), and the company sold itself to HP in 2010 for $1.2 billion.

HP quickly set about creating a tablet based on webOS, the TouchPad, which again hit just behind the market, in 2011. At that time, iPad was the dominant device; Android (News - Alert) proliferation was just beginning. The TouchPad just seemed like an also-ran and again ended up going nowhere despite a big TV push featuring celebrities like Lea Michelle from Glee.

In Feb. 2013, LG acquired the source code, associated documentation, engineering talent and related websites associated with webOS, and said it would license HP’s webOS-related intellectual property, including patents acquired from Palm covering fundamental operating system and user interface technologies. And, it would be using it for TVs.

Will LG fare better with webOS than those that went before? We are reportedly about to find out: a leaked image published by Evleaks shows a TV set that has integrated apps like YouTube, Facebook, Skype and Twitter (News - Alert), plus LG’s own SmartShare service and a Web browser, all arranged in the webOS-based “cards” interface running across the bottom.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that inside sources confirmed a CES (News - Alert) 2014 launch for the TV.

LG is definitely banking on webOS, regardless of timing. “It creates a new path for LG to offer an intuitive user experience and Internet services across a range of consumer electronics devices,” said Skott Ahn, president and CTO at LG, when the company made the acquisition. “The open and transparent webOS technology offers a compelling user experience that, when combined with our own technology, will pave the way for future innovations using the latest Web technologies.”

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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