Hewlett Packard has pulled the plug on its webOS operating system. HP bought Palm and its webOS for $1.2 billion and released the touchpad earlier this year. WebOS and touch pad in general have received rave reviews but never kicked the sales curve.
HP has this to say about the webOS :
HP reported that it plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones. HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward.
If only I knew what ‘explore options to optimize the value of webOS’ means. It definitely means there will not be a webOS powered devices from HP. What it also means, rather in a subtle manner, is anyone else who wants to use webOS via licensing are free to do so or HP will be open to such options.
Using an operating system as-is without a clear plan for future software development isn’t recommended in the world of iOS’s and Androids. Samsung, HTC, LG and Sony Ericsson, the top Android manufacturers which are bitten by Google-Motorola deal might explore the option to bring webOS to the open and commonly support it. Though Google insists on Android being open, it was hardly open even before the Motorola deal. With Motorola deal, Google has become a full fledged vertically integrated mobile player, further challenging Android’s openness.
Android is following the steps of Symbian by starting as open and being hardly open as years pass by. HP’s webOS can be the OS which took the contrarian approach. It started as a proprietary OS, changed hands and is now being orphaned. Instead of that, some research dollars can be thrown at webOS, make it open and probably leave it open. Now that HP doesn’t have any vested interest in the OS, manufacturers doesn’t have to worry about co-competition like what happened with the Google-Android case.
Apparently handling a mobile operating system isn’t easy. Nokia which pulled its weight behind Meego has given up pre-maturely, though it produced a stellar Nokia N9 powered by Meego. Nokia’s Symbian is already on the gallows as it is cuddling up to Microsoft. Windows Phone 7 is eagerly waiting for Mango to take off. That doesn’t leave us with very many mobile OS choices.