Computer giant Hewlett-Packard (HP) has accused Canadian smartphone maker Research In Motion (RIM) of ‘fast imitation’ of the webOS operating system.
HP, which acquired webOS originators Palm last summer, has taken a swipe at RIM’s QNX operating system that makes its debut in the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet for what it claims are "uncanny similarities" to webOS in its multitasking operation.
Jon Oakes, a director of product marketing at HP, told Laptop magazine: "From what we've seen in the market, there are some uncanny similarities.
“It's a fast innovation cycle and a fast imitation cycle in this market, so we just know that we have the creative engine here to continue to build on what we have, and we'll keep innovating, we'll keep honing and those guys hopefully will continue to see the value in it and keep following us by about a year."
The similarities Oakes is referring to include the rather clever ‘card’ metaphor webOS uses to visually display multiple running apps that can be easily switched by just flicking through them. QNX uses a similar interface where users can swipe through apps in miniature view. And naturally because the PlayBook is a direct competitor to HP’s upcoming TouchPad slate, that's not going down too well with HP’s execs.
RIM responded with a rather diplomatic answer, neither denying nor accepting HP’s allegation:
Jeff McDowell, Senior Vice President of Business Marketing and Alliances at RIM, said: "When you're trying to optimise user experience that juggles multitasking, multiple apps open at once and on a small screen, you're going to get people landing on similar kinds of designs.
"There was no intention and no preconceived notion that this is what we want to end up looking like. In fact, I think QNX had that design lined up before we even started working with them."
It’s a mystery who copied what, if at all. But it’s hardly a new thing for technology companies taking cues from each other. What's more, judging by the lateness of HP’s remarks, it’s unlikely that it’ll take any legal action against BlackBerry and will probably be focusing on the launch of the TouchPad this summer.