WebOS headed for Kickstarter-fueled smartphone return

The mobile OS market is currently split four ways. Android and iOS are found on the lion’s share of devices. Blackberry has been reduced almost to irrelevance, while Windows appears to be on the rise. By the end of next year, we may be able to add WebOS back to that list. A company called Phoenix International Communications wants to bring the now open-source OS to market with custom smartphone hardware.

Open WebOS, as it’s called these days, has been ported to some existing devices already. There’s even a version that runs as an Android app. However, Phoenix wants to produce its own hardware using a manufacturer in China. The firm’s leader, Matthew Zakutny, told Technology Review that the plan is to start with lower-end devices and slowly move upmarket. Phoenix will reportedly seek funding via Kickstarter, which could be a fertile resource given WebOS’s old-school Palm roots. Kickstarter projects seem to do well when there’s a hint of nostalgia involved.

As much as I’d like to see WebOS rise up from obscurity, the Phoenix group may have a tough time competing. Even though the OS is expected to be compatible with Android apps via OpenMobile, the lack of native WebOS apps may turn off some users. A bigger challenge may be coming up with compelling hardware. There’s certainly no shortage of competition in the handset market, and starting at the low end doesn’t necessarily make things much easier.

Comments closed
    • Walkintarget
    • 7 years ago

    OpenMobile appears to be as dead as WebOS with no updates or noteworthy news of late. I continue to put off loading Cyanogen 10 on my TP until its well and good stable.

    My TP works so well for what I use it for that the old adage ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ would seem to apply, at least in my case. I don’t really miss many apps, short of Netflix, but in all honesty, I wouldn’t use my TP to watch Netflix even if I could.

    • Theolendras
    • 7 years ago

    Mind share is not market share. Last time I saw market share of smartphone, RIM just was barely below 10 percent and Microsoft 2. It’s possible Microsoft will rise from there, so is BB10, but right now is not a more important player than RIM which the post seems to occult.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 7 years ago

    I wish people would stop misusing Kickstarter. WebOS died a much deserved death. Let it go. If you want your platform open-ish, go Android. If you want your platform full of apps, go iOS. If you want your platform to be without apps and closed down but what you DO get built in makes you feel like you’re playing with constantly updating playdough, then get a Windows Phone and pray they don’t decide your phone is obsolete next month.

    If you want to waste your money, buy a Blackberry.

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      Webos was a much better os than android.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 7 years ago

        Maybe, but that doesn’t matter as it’s no more. It has ceased to be. It’s expired and gone to meet it’s maker. It’s a late os. It’s a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace.

    • cartman_hs
    • 7 years ago

    it makes me wonder what happen to the Tizen (ex-meego)…

    • allanmac
    • 7 years ago

    At this point forget mobile.

    The fact that WebOS explicitly and fairly elegantly supports multitasking makes me think that Linux/BSD may have finally found a proper desktop environment.

    • dpaus
    • 7 years ago

    Hey, it worked for Amiga.

      • mutarasector
      • 7 years ago

      Exactly, AmigaOS lives on through projects like MorphOS, AROS, etc. History could repeat itself.

      What would be cool is to see OpenMobile’s ACL be ported to BB10 as QNX would be architecturally darn near ideal at running it as a system service, and BB10 could have an Android player beyond Gingerbread like the current Android player is limited to. .

        • dpaus
        • 7 years ago

        [quote<]Exactly, AmigaOS lives on....[/quote<] Sadly, I was being [s<]facitious[/s<]. um, [s<]fassee-[/s<], er, [s<]faceeshus-[/s<] Damn. Sarcastic. I was being sarcastic.

    • Philldoe
    • 7 years ago

    QNX

    That is all.

      • davidbowser
      • 7 years ago

      Isn’t QNX the new BB OS?

      Not for nothing, but if I was a QNX fan, I would feel the same way WebOS fans did when HP bought them. RIM might not have made decisions as catastrophic as HP, but they are bleeding out slowly.

        • Philldoe
        • 7 years ago

        They were bleeding. But as it is, they are leveling out, and beginning to grow again. Their sales in the US stink, but are quickly growing outside of the U.S. BB10 (QNX) is nearing release (3 months away) and their stocks have been spiking up here and there.

        Just because they don’t sell in the U.S. does not mean they are dieing. You really do need to look at their overseas sales. Quite nice.

    • crsh1976
    • 7 years ago

    No matter how much I liked the card multi-tasking thing, let it die already; nobody in their right mind is going to develop apps for it.

    • albundy
    • 7 years ago

    support and apps depend on and supersede its reputation…which it has none after it fell. they will need major marketing and backing if this is ever to get off the ground…again.

      • brute
      • 7 years ago

      more like out of the ground

    • ludi
    • 7 years ago

    It’s dead, Jim.

    She was a pretty horse while she lasted, but beating her ain’t going to get that plow moving any faster.

      • ColeLT1
      • 7 years ago

      Agreed, we put Android on our hp touchpad for a reason…

    • willyolio
    • 7 years ago

    webOS for raspberry pi would be a better idea.

    it’ll take more than a kickstarter project to make any kind of scratch in the smartphone market. like, $10 billion more. at least.

      • Goty
      • 7 years ago

      Why build WebOS for non-mobile devices when they already have fully-fledged operating systems that are much more flexible and powerful?

        • willyolio
        • 7 years ago

        alternatives. the raspberry pi is supposed to be a learning tool, not a competitive commercial product. might as well give it several platforms for people to play with.

    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 7 years ago

    So why would someone risk their money on a low end, possibly never-actually-be-made product for a dead OS, when they could just get an Android device and hack away at it to their pleasure?

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      No doubt. The HTC HD2 played host to WinMo 6.x, FroYo, Gingerbread, and Windows Phone 7.x with community support. I’m sure WebOS could be ported to Android devices without too much issue.

        • rado992
        • 7 years ago

        Definitely.. and it would make more sense to buy an Android phone and hack away (there will be a solid stock alternative). Also, add ICS to HD2’s OS list – I think it ran pretty well on it, too. As for a fifth player in the mobile space.. I seriously think it’s getting too crowded. Just look at Windows Phone – it is quite a solid OS, but after several years it’s still nowhere near as popular as Android or iOS and still has a single-digit market share. Google was able to gain sigificant market share because they hooped onto the train early enough, but even MS was too little too late, let alone this reincarnation of WebOS.

        • sweatshopking
        • 7 years ago

        Hd2 recently got wp8…

      • A_Pickle
      • 7 years ago

      Because it’s a pain in the ass to do that, and it voids your warranty. Not that WebOS hardware won’t if/when it arrives stateside…

      • JdL
      • 7 years ago

      Because to build a decent Android app, you need to know **Java** and be able to test on 1000 different devices.

      WebOS *might* offer the ability to make & distribute apps as simple as Responsive Web Design and web sites.

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