Talking tech since 2003

A post on the Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog reports that LG, electronics manufacturer and chief Samsung rival (behind Apple, of course) is gearing up to revive webOS, the mobile operating system built by the now-defunct Palm corporation for its smartphone and tablet devices. Interestingly, LG—which apparently purchased webOS from Hewlett-Packard back in February—isn’t pushing the operating system for its intended purpose, at least not yet. Instead, the operating system will serve as the foundation for LG’s forthcoming line of smart TVs, set to be revealed at CES next month.

Amazingly, this isn’t even the first announcement that webOS would be brought back from the dead. HP and LG actually announced as much when the deal went down in February, detailed in a press release. The Digits post, however, does cite a “person familiar with the matter” who says that webOS will keep its “cards” system in place, which was a simple and relatively elegant user interface for mobile multitasking. And hearing that, I can see it in my mind’s eye: watching TV on one card, browsing Netflix on another, and yet another card ready to access for browsing the web.

And another interesting tidbit? According to the post, webOS “may be developed and later adopted for LG’s other consumer electronics, including smartphones.” I have my doubts about that last bit, but I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing webOS-powered gadgets coming back on the shelves.

It wasn’t too terribly long ago that webOS represented a real, viable threat to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. When the first Palm Pre debuted at CES in 2009, it blew journalists away, and even earned “Best in Show” from CNET. But when Palm’s Pre and Pixi devices failed to connect with buyers, the company was eventually bought by HP. HP supported the line for a few more months, and then put to a quick and merciful death. That webOS could make a comeback in so interesting a format proves that the operating system had plenty of potential. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of effect—if any—its revival to the land of the living could have on the mobile space.

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