WebOS could land on non-HP phones from ‘special companies’

WebOS coming to non-HP devices soon
WebOS coming to non-HP devices soon

I’m live here at the Qualcomm Uplinq conference and HP’s Jon Rubinstein just said something interesting during the morning keynote: HP would be willing to work with “special companies” to deliver webOS on non-HP devices.

When HP bought Palm last year for more than $1 billion, many (including yours truly) believed it would take the Apple approach of delivering the hardware and the software. With webOS, it had purchased a stellar operating system that just needed some love and mountains of resources. HP has those resources and the Veer, Pre 3 and TouchPad are its first uses of that platform.

Rubinstein, who is now a senior VP at HP, said that it would be willing to work with “special companies” to deliver webOS on other products. It wants to be somewhere in between the Apple model and the Google approach (where it gives away Android to all comers). To be clear, he said that HP doesn’t want to be in the licensing business, so these partners would have to add a lot of value and be focused on pushing webOS.

So, what kind of companies will qualify as “special?” Rubinstein indicated that this means the handset maker (or tablet maker, I suppose) shouldn’t have a large portfolio of devices based on other platforms or, at least, be willing to make webOS its main operating system. I guess that rules out Apple, Nokia (with Windows Phone) and Research In Motion. Samsung, LG, HTC and Motorola also seem pretty darn committed to Android.

The idea of webOS on other devices is very interesting because I don’t care how large HP is, it’s going to be tough for a single company to create enough demand for the webOS ecosystem. I’m just struggling to figure out which companies out there would fall into this “special” category and would be willing to ditch Android or Windows Phone 7 for webOS. If I’m dreaming, I’d love to see some HTC hardware with this software but don’t know how realistic that is.

What do you think, friends?

  • Bruce

    I like HTC as well, but they have a big commitment to Android. How about SanDisk? They make mp3 players. They are exhibiting WebOS at their booth in Computex.

    • Anonymous

      Whoa, didn’t even think of that. I guess I need to think of worldwide consumer electronics companies that don’t already have a large mobile investment. Sandisk could definitely be one. 

      • Anonymous

        Toshiba has no strong go-to-market mobile strategy in the U.S. either, maybe that could make sense. 

  • Jameson

    would a consumer buy a phone that has no history and an OS that most people dont know about? i think hp is really limiting their selves here. I have a palm pre from sprint and as much as i love webOS the actual phone is poorly made. HTC or LG would be amazing

    • Anonymous

      I still don’t know if consumers care about what platform it’s running. Many still think Android and Droid are the same thing. All they care about is that it’s easy to use and the apps they want are on it. 

  • Cjaldrich

    Huawei could be an option. They are trying to make a push in the US with Android, but it could also open up the door for HP to make a larger global push with a manufacturer that’s already established in Asia. On another level, how about Best Buy’s Insignia bringing WebOS to their televisions?

  • God

    WebOS is still my favorite mobile OS, but the hardware was so bad I switched to HTC and Android.  The thought of WebOS on my HTC phone gives me wet dreams.

Back to top ▴