HP CEO: We’d license WebOS to other firms

Right now, WebOS is the exclusive realm of former Palm and current HP devices. However, the mobile operating system might see something of a career shift into a bona-fide competitor to Windows Phone 7 and Android in the future. That’s because, as CNet News reports, HP CEO Leo Apotheker stated plainly that he’s open to licensing WebOS to third-party hardware vendors.

Apotheker made the surprising revelation at the AllThingsD D9 conference earlier today. Here’s part of his statement, as quoted by CNet News:

It’s not correct to believe that [WebOS] should only be on HP devices. There are all kinds of other people who want to make whatever kind of hardware they make and would like to connect them to the Internet. We’ll make it available to enterprises and to SMBs (small- and medium-size businesses). It will run on lots of HP devices.

Later, when asked whether HP would consider licensing WebOS to HTC, Apotheker said the possibility was "certainly something we would entertain." HTC has a rather expansive lineup of smart phones based on Android and Windows Phone 7, and it recently added a 7" Android tablet to that product portfolio.

Since WebOS is already scheduled to appear in HP’s TouchPad tablet, and is also being groomed for applications in PCs and printers, HP’s apparent openness to licensing could have wide-ranging implications.

Comments closed
    • joselillo_25
    • 8 years ago

    I do not find any way a hardware manufacturer could add value to a tablet or a touch-phone. they are all the same, a big screen, so the battle is going to be in the software and if we check history there is only one winner there. Apple lost the last time against Microsoft due their closed system and this could happen again.

    I do not think this guys of HP could survive in this market.

    • A_Pickle
    • 8 years ago

    THANK THE GODS

    WebOS is a badass platform, and Palm even had some pretty badass phones to show it off with. The Pre was really the first bona-fide iPhone contender, let us not forget. I think Palm’s foolish move was their idea that their Web-ish API consisted of a web developer’s wet dream, but had nothing for a game developer (or even sophisticated app developer) to get closer to machine-level. That has changed, and that’s a good thing.

    Then they got bought by HP, who (in my mind) doesn’t give a #$@! about product quality. Great. The inept computer company now gets to put it’s bloat [i<]into the operating system of my phone[/i<]. Noooooo thank you. WebOS does multi-tasking far better than Android does, and there's no reason that it can't do the same things Android devices do. Rather than fighting the iTunes war with Apple, Palm should focus on developing synchronicity from their device to just about any PIM application and/or service that they possibly can. Google, Windows Live, Yahoo!, Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird with Mozilla Lightning/Sunbird, Mail, iCal, you name it. If they could swing that, they'd probably attract a lot of users who aren't thoroughly mesmerized by Apple's and Google's offerings.

    • trackerben
    • 8 years ago

    Remember when Palm and RIM were seen as fringe players because simple featurephones and Symbian ruled the global markets? Remember when WinCE was seen as having little hope because Palm, RIM, and Symbian ruled? Remember when iOS phones were seen as niche-only novelties because RIM and WinMobile ruled? Remember when Android… you get the picture.

    And now, some would see WebOS as not having much of a future (in smartphones, at least) because iOS and Android will still rule?

    The only guys more consistently correct than the analysts must be the pundits.

      • Decelerate
      • 8 years ago

      That’s a very valid argumentation, and I believe many zealots from all camps tend to forget that.

      However what is WebOS’s competitive advantage bringing disruptive technological advancement to the field? All your previous examples had that specific “feature” that helped them leapfrog the rather idle competition that I don’t see WebOS doing in the smartphone business.

      WebOS on printers though will be killer. HP’s main weakness on printers are craptastic drivers.

        • trackerben
        • 8 years ago

        WebOS is currently implemented to be the most cloud-centric. If this means no HP version of iTunes, and less need to hang off your desktop, then that’s a plus over iOS. Against Android, It’s not certain how HP can position uniquely. But they could still work on executing like Apple on UI polish, generational control, and vetting apps, issues which vex Android users. HP needs to emphasize how savvy its task experience is.

        Standardized WebOS touch controls and remote clients would make multifunction devices and high-end network gear nicer to manage.

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 8 years ago

      Sure, but anyone who actually used those devices realized they were significantly flawed and there had to be a better way of doing things.

      Android and iOS might be similarly flawed, but does WebOS do anything to expose those flaws? It’s not that WebOS is doomed to failure because it’s new, it’s doomed because it’s very unlikely HP has the creativity to expose flaws in current systems and capitalize on them.

        • trackerben
        • 8 years ago

        If WebOS is truly better as a cloud-centric device, those answers had better come out in the reviews if they want to make any headway against Apple.

        But even if WebOS never becomes a major mobile OS, we mustn’t forget that HP is a systems as well as platforms integrator and makes much profit in huge sectors which Google and Apple have little presence in. I get the impression HP eventually hopes to embed WebOS as a standard UI across many high-end consumer ecosystems. Not just networked media and imaging gear but also HDTVs and game consoles, home automation, perhaps even auto integration. They have footprints in all these and they’ve got the development teams to farm out conceptualization and localization work to.

        We should look beyond traditional consumer needs. If WebOS gets a track of being very friendly yet better hardened than the alternatives, HP can then go for making it a standard in industrial and financial applications Right now the big retail players are watching McDonalds’ experiment with customer-controlled transactions at point of sale. Apple is already looking at doing something similar to lower labor costs. HP could capture that sector and do it profitably with their solid stack of vertically integrated hardware and software platforms which they already have low-cost rights to. A systems WebOS which becomes a staple on the ground may give businesses a reason to invest in HP terminals because it would have come to present a familiar face to welcome users into easy transactions at every entry.

    • LiquidSpace
    • 8 years ago

    They should license WEBOS to Apple, with Apple’ excellent hardware WEBOS will fly to the moon and back.
    HTC will do too

      • mutarasector
      • 8 years ago

      I can’t for the life of me figure why Apple would even want to.

    • indeego
    • 8 years ago

    Other firms: What is WebOS again?

      • dpaus
      • 8 years ago

      HP: It’s that thing we’re going to put on 50 million systems per year.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 8 years ago

        People have to buy those systems before the numbers begin to matter.

    • bthylafh
    • 8 years ago

    I’m thinking too little, too late. They missed their chance and Android’s got that spot now.

      • mutarasector
      • 8 years ago

      It does? Phones maybe, but definitely not tablets and desktops. HP’s idea to include webOS on their own desktops, and willingness to license it to other system builders is a pretty shrewd move on their part in gaining developers’ tablet support for it as well, and to go up against M$.

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