Thursday, August 18, 2011

R.I.P. webOS (For Now)

Okay, webOS isn't dead yet.  But, it was barely alive anyway.  Although webOS is regarded as one of the best, if not the best, operating system in the smartphone market neither Palm nor Hewlett-Packard could get traction in an industry already crowded by iOS, Android, BlackBerry and, most recently, Windows Phone 7.

In today's HP earnings call, the company revealed it is spinning off its PC division and no longer making hardware for webOS.  Although it is no surprise that the TouchPad was selling so poorly, it is surprising that HP is giving up so early in the game.  The Pre3 hadn't even been released in the U.S. yet.  Anybody admit to buying the Veer?  Even with this dismal news, webOS could rise from the ashes yet a third time.

Remember when I said that webOS isn't exactly dead yet?  Well, it's just interesting that this happened the very same week that Google bought Motorola Mobility possibly leaving other Android handset manufacturers a little leery.  Techcrunch has outlined a scenario that webOS could continue as an open platform.  I doubt Samsung, HTC and the like would abandon Android but rather they could just add webOS to its lineup.  I especially like the prospect of HTC trying its hand at webOS.  HTC, in my opinion, is the best hardware manufacturer for Android.  An HTC handset with webOS could be... well, magical.

But the biggest hurdle webOS has is being the fifth major smartphone OS on the market to develop for.  iOS and Android dominate the app development.  WP7 is looking to join the top ranks by leapfrogging over BlackBerry as the third major mobile platform (if it already hasn't).  A Windows 8 tablet could help Microsoft to do that.  From day one, Palm faltered by releasing a platform that did not have widespread developer support.  This needs to change for webOS to survive.  And I think it could if Samsung, HTC, LG, and Sony Ericsson jumped on the webOS bandwagon.

Rest in peace, for now, webOS.  Hopefully, your heaven is less creepy than this early Palm Pre commercial:

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