A pair of articles (1, 2) from technology blog Electronista hints that webOS' main difficulty in getting off the ground was related to poor management and inexperienced software engineers.
According to the website rumors "suggested that Palm, and later HP, may have ultimately had hurdles at the corporate level, not just technical." "WebOS didn't have either the needed management or engineers to bring it to completion." "This was compounded by a rush to finish the OS in nine months, which required taking shortcuts such as skipping proper APIs (app programming interfaces) until later, hurting the ability for third-party developers to sign on."
The article goes on to show that the exit of high profile, former Palm employees, such as the highly respected Matias Duarte, now batting for the Android team, accelerated the decline of the web standards based mobile OS.
"The string of executive departures after the HP takeover are now believed to have gutted the webOS team. Matias Duarte's jump to Google saw webOS lose its defining employee, one tipster said. The replacements were described as "fourth- and fifth-stringers." Design VP Peter Skillman's exit to Nokia had its own tangible impact."
Chuq von Rospach, who recently held the role of webOS Community Manager at Palm and then HP, states:
"During my tenure at Palm/HP — just under three years — I had six direct managers, averaging about 5 months per, ranging from a first level manager to directors to a couple of VPs." "I reported to, or up to, eight different VPs in that time. One of my direct managers (the last one) and two of those VPs are still with HP. Does that give you a sense of how well things were going in the organization? Yeah, I think it does."
Mr von Rospach goes on by saying, "Most of the damage, he said, was "self-inflicted." Palm had already been on the verge of collapse when it was bought by HP, and HP gave it the cash and logistical support it needed to survive. That it floundered a second time was the Palm team's fault."
Palm was a really create company back in the 1990's. It's sad to have had to watch is slow slide into a footnote in the book of mobile computing history. Palm OS, was the iOS of it's day. Many years later, webOS was a good contender, it just wasn't good enough.