Palm has breathlessly announced "WebOS 2.0, the next generation of Palm's amazing mobile operating system!" This wonder, currently in beta for registered developers, will include Stacks, the "next-generation of multitasking"; Just Type, a renamed and enhanced version of Universal Search; Exhibition, a way to write applications that only run when the WebOS phone is docked in the Palm Touchstone; Synergy, a former system integration feature now available to developers; Node.js support; PDK Plug-ins, which finally allow the Plug-in SDK to be used for, you know, plug-ins; and HTML5 enhancements, including canvas support, local and session storage, geolocation support, and application cache support.
That leaves Stacks. I have to admit that managing multitasking using stacks of cards is unique for smartphones and sounds like a nice idea. But I've seen something like it before -- in Windows 7.
The market history for recent Palm phones has not been encouraging. When the Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus were announced for Verizon in January, the prices were $149 and $99 for two-year contracts after rebates; by April, the prices were down to $50 and $30, and use of the Palm devices as Wi-Fi hotspots was made free for limited amounts of monthly bandwidth. Even at those bargain prices, they didn't sell well. In the recent Gartner report on smartphone sales, Palm didn't even show up on the list, which cut off at the feeble sales for Windows Mobile.
Though WebOS 2.0 sounds like a big improvement over its predecessor, will anyone care other than die-hard WebOS developers? Perhaps HP.