HP Still Undecided on Fate of webOS, But Does it Matter?
The blogosphere is buzzing once again about the fate of webOS, after HP came to no decision about webOS during a meeting ostensibly to determine its fate. The VAR Guy posed the question, Is it simply too late for webOS? but I ask the question, Does it even matter?
What’s the most valuable thing about webOS and Palm? If you answered “patents,” you’d be correct. Right now, anyone eyeing webOS is likely looking at what patents can be had from the acquisition. It has been speculated that everyone from Oracle to Intel have their eyes on webOS — maybe even Amazon — but the gains are the same for every company: technological assets they can assimilate into their own product lineup.
I submit that webOS itself, as either an operating system or a mobile platform, has zero intrinsic value anymore. Have you met anyone recently who uses a Palm Pre or Pixi? And despite the fire sale of TouchPads for $99, I have yet to see them proliferate the consumer space? webOS is so unpopular that an entire community of developers came together to run Android on the device, giving the TouchPad access to a bounty of more apps, opportunities and extra features.
So if HP injected needed funds to revive webOS, would anyone care? Is anyone going to want to buy another webOS tablet or phone? Will webOS be relevant by the time such hypothetical devices exist? I believe that answer to be a resounding “no.” There are simply too many players in the market, and webOS as a mobile platform for building future mobile devices is no longer relevant in that sense. Microsoft has even invited webOS players to switch teams, offering them tools and resources to develop Windows Phone apps instead. Currently, the buzz about webOS boils down to this: Like vultures, vendors are now picking on the remains of a once-great-but-long-dead mobile operating system and its intellectual property.
That’s not to say I don’t wish HP to prove me wrong. But making webOS relevant again will prove a near-impossible task in this turbulent mobile atmosphere. Don’t count on it, but don’t worry about it, either. It doesn’t matter.