If you’ve been wondering what happened to webOS, the operating system that became a symbol of Hewlett-Packard Co.’s flailing mobile strategy, take a look around your living room. It’s making a comeback on television.
Officials at Korean consumer tech vendor LG Electronics today announced they’d sold more than one million webOS-powered smart TVs since launching the line earlier this year. LG expects sales of the units to top 10 million units by the first half of 2015.
“Reaching the one million mark in just three months is a significant achievement in the TV industry,” said In-kyu Lee, senior vice president and head of the TV division in LG’s Electronics home entertainment unit. “Rather than continuing to add more and more functions into our smart TVs that few people will ever use, we’ve decided to focus on simplicity.
“Consumers seem to share our view that this is the right direction for the evolution of smart TVs going forward,” Lee said.
It’s a comfortable if not exactly noble outcome for the operating system that was once heralded as HP’s threat to Microsoft but suffered mightily under Palo Alto’s yoke while the vendor wanders aimlessly in the mobile device space.
HP picked up the webOS mobile operating system when it bought Palm Inc. for $1.2 billion in April 2010 and fantasized it could compete with Apple Inc.’s iOS, Google’s Android and ultimately Windows 8. WebOS was at the center of HP’s TouchPad tablet and smartphone strategy, a plan so poorly wrought not even endorsements by Russell Brand, the annoying girl from “Glee” and Manny Pacquiao could pull it out of the fire. There’s good reason folks called it the “OuchPad” when HP finally and definitively took the program off life support in late 2011.
In fact, the unraveling of the TouchPad and the webOS debacle are often seen as the beginning of HP’s stability, leadership and strategy problems that resulted in the ousting of former CEO Leo Apotheker.
The subsequent HP administration tried to salvage what was left of webOS’s dignity in 2012 when it said it would spin off the operating system and its development and support staff into a new subsidiary called Gram, an effort that came with the requisite indecipherable new logo, quirky typography, an actual new catchphrase, gift bags, branded swag and a rah-rah all-hands meeting in which webOS unit head Martin Risau Risau introduced the new company by saying “We don’t expect you to love it overnight.”
We are no longer a consumer hardware brand, we are a different company with focus on software, user experience, cloud, engineering and partnering. This change in identity will take some getting used to,” Risau said at the time.
Sadly, we never got to love Gram at all. Before it could ever officially take shape, HP last February sold all of the webOS source code, engineering talent and related websites to LG as it prepped its smart TV campaign. The deal also netted LG two R&D locations in Sunnyvale, Calif. and San Francisco.
LG officials say they expect their webOS-powered smart TVs to roll out in more than 150 markets by the end of June. Both Underwriters Laboratories and Intertek have given the units high marks for their ease of use. Which sort of proves what most people said about the OS since its early days at Palm. Despite everything else, it was always pretty good software.
This article originally appeared on Channelnomics.