webOS + Synergy = Ace Up HP’s Sleeve

John Gruber at Daring Fireball:

As the horrendous reviews of the BlackBerry PlayBook rolled in last week, the thought occurred to me that HP is now our only hope for a high-quality rival to the iPad.

The PlayBook seems to have flopped even before it has arrived. Joshua Topolsky at This is my next… gives some advice to HP:

Bringing Synergy to video and music services is bold, it’s important, and it’s something no one else is offering right now — it’s a feature that fringe cases (like yours truly) would applaud, and average users would love instantly.

HP: forget about owning the services, controlling the purchases, trying to take on iTunes. Control the pipes, make it make sense for users, and build it into everything you make. Your new story can be one of cloud connectedness, bringing order to chaos, and being able to say for the first time in a long time: we do something they can’t do.

Others such as Frank Gillett have shared similar thoughts:

The Palm team’s early features for creating an integrated view of contacts on the Pre from across several sources, such as Gmail and Facebook, was an example of the Personal Cloud idea. Today’s announcements of HP Synergy builds on that small start — I think HP is thinking deeply about how to integrate information, sync it, host it, and create seamless access to personal and work information across all devices.

What is Synergy? For you and me it means never having to think through where your information is coming from. For instance, contacts: with Synergy working in the background when you need to contact John Doe there is no need to search his contact information on Facebook, or Twitter, on his blog, at his work, etc. Synergy pulls all of that together for you. Another example would be music: access to your music no matter where your music is stored. Great idea, but HP has some catching up to do.

Google is ahead of the cloud services game. Buy an Android smartphone, give it your Gmail credentials, and it starts syncing your contacts, emails, and calendars. You make changes on your Android smartphone and those changes are synced to Google’s cloud. I believe Apple will soon unveil a similar sort of cloud syncing service. A revamped MobileMe that lets you sync your contacts, emails, calendars, but also your multimedia assets would be great. But these are closed and limited singular clouds. What HP’s Synergy could possibly do is to access all these clouds, curate the information, and present what you need, when you need it.

I’ve always admired the sleek webOS UI. At times iOS seems less intuitive, less fluid compared to webOS. I think Gruber is right in thinking HP’s webOS tablet will be the only iPad alternative in providing a high-quality experience. Topolsky among others rightly suggest that HP has an ace up its sleeve, Synergy.