Photo: Dan Frommer, Business Insider
The upcoming PlayBook tablet from Research In Motion uses a lot of design elements first seen in Palm’s WebOS, and an HP manager is calling it a “fast imitation.”Although RIM’s tablet will hit the market before HP’s competing TouchPad, it uses the kind of fast app switching that has been a hallmark of WebOS since it debuted on smartphones.
For instance, both platforms display open apps as “cards” — users can switch apps by swiping the cards from side to side, and close them by swiping them off the screen. Laptop Magazine noticed the similarities and asked HP what they thought.
TouchPad marketing director John Oakes said, “It’s a fast innovation cycle and a fast imitation cycle in this market” and explained that HP will “keep honing and those guys hopefully will continue to see the value in it and keep following us by about a year.”
RIM VP Jeff McDowell denied the charges, explaining that “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.”
Rather, there are only so many ways to handle app-aswitching on a small touch-screen device, and RIM happened to choose a similar method as WebOS uses.
Of course, RIM could have used a software button that let you view open apps and switch between them, but then it might have been accused of imitating Android 3.0.
Both companies are hoping to make a splash in the increasingly crowded tablet market, which is currently dominated by Apple’s iPad. Google recently released its own tablet-specific version of Android, which has begun shipping on the Motorola Xoom.