Not Dead Yet? Top Three Possibilities for HP’s webOS
Reuters is reporting that webOS may not be dead, yet. In an interview, the head of HP’s PSG group Todd Bradley hinted HP may not be done with the webOS or tablet. So what does HP have up its sleeve? Bradley was elusive, but here are my top three ideas for what the PSG spinoff could do, along with some channel implications …
First up, the tip of the hat goes to Reuters for its discussion with Bradley. The article suggests HP is more likely to spin off PSG instead of selling it, and that spin-off could also include the webOS portion of the splintering PC maker. According to Reuters …
Bradley said the company could resurrect HP’s short-lived TouchPad tablet computer, which was introduced on July 1 before being terminated only about six weeks later.
“Tablet computing is a segment of the market that’s relevant, absolutely,” Bradley said.
In addition, Bradley offered information that “a number of companies had expressed interest in possibly using webOS as an operating system,” but buttoned up on elaborating. So what could a spun-off PSG do with webOS? HP’s PSG group is also the group that provides thin clients for the virtualization scene, so here are my three ideas:
- Become the channel’s go-to mobile platform: Not to kick RIM while it’s down, but a PSG spin-off could really take the time to listen to SMB and enterprise customer needs and build webOS around those. (QNX and webOS share similar styles of multitasking, but I think webOS has the upper hand.) HP’s PSG group has the same ability as Apple to maintain vertical control over the device, so it could really re-enter the market in a whole new way, if it took the time to build something truly business-specific (and maybe even compete with the Cisco Cius).
- Build webOS-based ‘smart’ clients: With the comment that “a number of companies” were interested in using webOS in some shape or form, it’s clear there’s some pent-up demand. Building a webOS smart client could be an inexpensive and license-free way for a company to provide computing power to many employees who need to do basic tasks. It could be the PSG’s Chrome OS, so to speak. I’ve discussed in the past that when HP CEO Leo Apotheker envisioned webOS on every PC by 2012, there could easily be business applications for the mobile OS.
- Introduce webOS as a x86 operating system: This one is a little far-fetched, but I was excited for webOS everywhere in 2012. It’s possible PSG still could do this (e.g. dual-boot webOS and Windows) but it would be even more exciting if HP made webOS available to anyone who was interested, like any other operating system you can buy or download. What easier way to expand the ecosystem than make it available to millions for, say, $99 a copy? That could really spur the development end of things, too.
One thing is for certain, the fate of webOS and PSG is hardly determined, especially with the likes of Samsung allegedly eyeing webOS for its own use.