Earlier today , HP said the webOS platform will be release to the open source community with HP at the helm. The Verge sat down with HP’s Meg Whitman and Board Member Marc Andreessen to find out what these changes mean for HP.
Whitman stunned the tech world when she confirmed to The Verge that HP would make a webOS tablet. It probably won’t arrive until 2013, because it’ll take that long to re-organize the webOS team and move in its new, open-source direction. She also said that HP will continue to invest in webOS and views this project as a long-term commitment to the mobile platform.
As much as I love webOS, you have to wonder what HP is thinking? Is Whitman being sincere when she says HP will commit itself to webOS for five years and manufacture tablets? Or is she just giving the platform lip service and sweeping it slowly under the rug? If she is being serious, you have to question the wisdom of her judgement.
WebOS was a terrific mobile operating system when it was introduced in early 2009. It was fresh and different, but it hasn’t seen a significant revision in a long time, an exceptionally long time. Other platforms like iOS and Android have leapfrogged webOS and provide a pleasing UI with built-in cloud services for music, movies and files. Other platforms have a robust developer community which includes small indie shops, leading companies and everyone in between. WebOS may have a strong grass roots following, but when was the last time you read about a major company launching a webOS application?
Maybe Whitman doesn’t want to be known as the CEO who killed webOS, because as she says, “ it’s a great asset, and who wants it to go away?” Maybe she sees some potential in webOS that e don’t. Either way, it’s going to be an uphill climb. By the time webOS enters the tablet market, again, it’ll be 2013. iOS will own 90% of the market, Amazon will have 10% and the rest of the field will be competing for the scraps. WebOS won’t be te only scavenger fighting for sales; Windows will be there competing with Windows 8, too.
So what do you think? Was HP right to take another gamble with webOS or should the company shelve it and move on?