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HP exec Jon Rubenstein compares webOS to early Mac OS X

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Like most non-iPad tablets, HP's TouchPad has faced lukewarm reviews thus far. Most reviews have dinged the device for being laggy and not having enough apps, though a few reviewers have admitted the webOS-powered device does seem to have potential that tablets like RIM's PlayBook seem to lack.

According to Pre Central, Jon Rubinstein, Senior VP and General Manager of HP's Palm Global Business Unit, sent a memo out to all HP employees in response to the reviews. In that memo, he notes that a fellow HP employee drew parallels between the opening reviews for the TouchPad and those for Apple's Mac OS X when it first launched over ten years ago. The echoes do sound pretty uncanny; OS X was also criticized for being "sluggish" and having a paucity of supported apps when it first launched.

Rubinstein seems to be implying that HP's TouchPad can achieve the same success that Mac OS X has, given enough time. On the other hand, thus far the tablet market seems to be a lot more unforgiving of an environment than the PC market was in the early 2000s, and Mac OS X didn't become successful overnight. It took years before wide swathes of the tech industry stopped deriding OS X as an also-ran to Windows, and even ten years later some pundits still look down their noses at it.

The key to Mac OS X's success, and the path HP must follow if it wants webOS to succeed, is that Apple made a series of quick, iterative improvements to OS X rather than allowing it to founder. If Mac OS X had seen only marginal improvements over its first couple of years, the Mac may well have died a hasty death in the market -- and it would have deserved to. Whether we say the same thing about the TouchPad and webOS a few years from now is completely up to HP.

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