Leaving webOS, but not the Web

While at Palm and HP, I made it my mission to evangelize HTML5 app development both inside and outside our company. The very core of the webOS value proposition was the web. In webOS, mobile websites, native and web-based apps lived together in a “zen-like” harmony.

At least, that was the theory. In my two years there, I watched webOS slip from a leader in mobile web to a distant follower. I won’t elaborate much on the internal hows and whys (frankly, I doubt I even have the full story anyway), but the simple fact was I had a dramatic drop in confidence in our ability to stay relevant. All the drama in the news didn’t help, and neither did the mighty layoff hammer which eventually swung down on myself and more than half of the remaining staff.

I’ve had a couple months to relax, decompress, and recover from the rough ride. It’s given me time to reboot and explore the mobile space from a fresh perspective. A few things have stayed the same (I still think Android is doing it very wrong and iOS isn’t doing it very right), but a few new things presented themselves. Namely, there is another fish in the sea which has a much better shot of pushing out amazing, web-friendly devices…

Monday is my first day at RIM. You know, the BlackBerry folks. Like Palm, RIM has received some negative press of late. Some layoffs and restructuring are looming, and some of the tech media are skeptical of RIM’s future. While some of that sounds familiar, here are just a few important differences to me:

  1. While webOS fell behind the market leaders in HTML5 support, RIM has pushed forward. In fact, the early BlackBerry 10 (BB10) browser looks to be top dog. Today, HTML5 Test gives it a whopping score of 447. This is a higher score than iOS 5 (324), higher still than Android 4 (273), and even slightly higher than the top desktop browser score (Chrome Canary with 442). Source: http://html5test.com/results/mobile.html

  2. RIM gets that web developers can and should be equal citizens with native developers. For the past two years, they’ve been steadily moving towards complete system access parity between c/c++, Adobe Air, and Java (Android flavor). In other words, they support more tools for developers to make great apps than anyone else in the mobile space today.

  3. As a user, BB10 itself is damn awesome. It has some of goodies I liked from webOS, iOS and even Win7; but all streamlined and more functional. Plus, there are even more unique features and slick interactions which help put it way over the top in my book. and it’s not even released yet. I haven’t been this excited about a mobile platform in a long while, and judging from meeting a ton of other excited developers at a BlackBerry 10 Jam, I’m not the only one.

I’m joining the BlackBerry Developer Evangelist team, with pretty much the same mission: get web developers into making great mobile HTML5 stuff (apps or otherwise). Now that I think about it, there is one other similarity to my job at Palm: great people. Everyone I’ve met at RIM so far has been top notch. And while I’ll miss working with my former webOS Developer Relations teammates (except for Joshua Granick, who moved to RIM as well), I’ll still see you all at HTML5 conferences, mobile meetups and, of course, BlackBerry developer events (c’mon, we all know you’re going to come and take a peek at BB10).

In short: farewell webOS Nation, and hello CrackBerry!

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