WebOS Is Back ... Again!

Get a glimpse of what's on the tech horizon with Foolish reports from the field at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show. Companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies launch and showcase thousands of products at the event, which attracts visitors from around the world.

LG is giving webOS a try on some of its TVs, despite Palm and Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE: HPQ  ) disappointing experiences with the operating system in the past. Is the time finally ripe? Foolish analyst Evan Niu is skeptical.

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A full transcript follows the video.

Eric Bleeker: Hey, Fools. I'm Eric Bleeker, and I'm joined here by our technology analyst, Evan Niu. We're at CES, and what we're looking at right now is webOS on LG televisions.

Evan Niu: It's back for the third time.

Eric: It's back, it's back! Viewers out there might know it used to be a Palm property. Very well reviewed; did not sell well. It went to HP; they killed it.

Evan: Did not sell well!

Eric: It's now on televisions. What are your first impressions, after getting to use webOS on TV?

Evan: I'll say that they've definitely revamped and refurbished it for a TV interface. I don't really see any remnants of webOS from what we know from the smartphone days. I think that LG's real angle here is to try to redo the whole interface side of it, because I think that's where the biggest opportunity in TV is, is simplifying the interface.

They use this little clicker; anyone that's familiar with how a Wii works, it works the same way. It has a little clicker and you wave it around, and that's your cursor. But the implementation is a little weird. I found it a little finicky when I was trying to point at things.

It uses an accelerometer instead of an IR sensor to actually see where you're pointing. It just senses the movement, but it makes it a little hard to actually control sometimes.

Eric: Beyond functionality, I think the big concern for me, everything is moving so fast in this area right now. When they bought webOS and had plans for it, you didn't have things existing like Chromecast, which is now a $35 dongle which plugs into TVs.

When you try and build a platform -- we see content providers like USA Today on here -- are you really going to be able to build out that kind of rich ecosystem when you have both Google  (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) and also Apple  (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) moving to the TV?

For my two cents, I think you can try and build on the television, but eventually you just have such dominant smartphone properties that will not only transition to other home automation areas, but the television itself. What are your thoughts on that?

Evan: I think LG is very clearly trying to diversify, because obviously they have all their other regular TVs that will tie into these other platforms that Google and Apple are launching.

At the same time, they're kind of side-betting, hedging with webOS, like, "Maybe we can build our own content platform and be our own thing," but I don't think they're going to have a good shot at it; webOS doesn't have a good track record and I don't think this is going to change it.

Eric: Definitely a very innovative product, but doubtful third time will be the charm. I'm Eric Bleeker, and this is The Motley Fool at CES. 


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