You don’t need to copy Apple to create something great. Remember Web OS?
Aug 25 2012

Marco Arment posted a more upbeat reaction to the Apple-Samsung decision handed down yesterday, in response to Andy Ithnako’s more pessimistic take:

I disagree that “useful” phones need to be so close to the iPhone that they run into Apple’s patents and trade-dress claims in the Samsung case.

I completely agree, and he goes on to name-check Windows 8 as a mobile interface that is useful without copying the iPhone.

He’s not the only one to mention Windows 8, but I’ve yet to see a single person mention Web OS, Palm’s short-lived mobile platform. Web OS was favorably reviewed against the iPhone, especially for its uniqueness. It certainly learned lessons from the iPhone, and was even developed by some former Apple employees, but its interface concepts were novel and it quickly became the underdog to root for. My wife used WebOS and loved it, and I easily preferred it over my friends’ Android phones I played with.

But it failed. And it failed without a big patent dispute that I’m aware of. So while I’m happy that Apple won, and worried that the broken patent system will only get stronger before it gets fixed, I’m saddest about something else. I’m sad that the company that provided a compelling alternative to iOS failed disastrously in the market, while the one that copied and stole ideas is still alive and kicking and unlikely to be driven out of the market.

And it’s doubly interesting because this comes the same week that Facebook replaced its HTML5 mobile app with a native iOS one. Web OS was based on the same technologies.