Despite having only relatively recently splashed out over a billion dollars on the original developer of webOS, Palm, HP has now decided to scrap production of all devices sporting the certainly capable, but slow selling mobile operating system.
The news certainly came as a surprise to us, but what’s even harder to believe is that this was all news to the in-house developers as well, when the press release was sent out into the wild.
It wasn’t that long ago, just back in February in fact, that we were hearing of the weird and wonderful long-term plans that HP had for webOS, which included installing it on printers, as well as the recently released TouchPad tablet and Veer smartphone, and the announcement of this discontinuation comes just a single day after the release of the flagship smartphone, the Pre 3.
You may have caught my recent article expressing my thoughts on the future direction of webOS, and how the still struggling ecosystem could potentially be headed for big things should the OS receive the intended publicity of being somehow adapted and integrated with Windows on HP PC’s. But now the future is not so clear for HP, and whilst webOS is clearly not going to feature in it, the questions have to be asked what they are going to do with this extraordinary mobile division they recently acquired in the form of Palm. Could Windows Phone be the next stepping stone, or perhaps the widely favoured Android platform that’s obviously free to license. There are many possibilities, but surely it would be a backward step to simply back out of the mobile industry, when it’s clearly only just beginning to flourish.
However, the shortcomings of webOS were there for all to see. Despite the TouchPad actually qualifying as my second favourite tablet device, behind the iPad, the sales just didn’t stack up, and after a series of sizeable price drops over in the US, the liquidation has led to a number of outlets almost giving them away at a meagre $99. Surely a must buy if you’re in the area, despite the apparent lack of support the device will be getting in the future.
So once again, we’re back to a pair of players in the tablet market, just Apple and Google, but what if this signals the intention of HP to get behind Microsoft and their plans for the Windows ecosystem? Coming next year, we will have Windows 8 tablets, we assume, and with HP being the largest vendor of PCs in the world, surely there would be no better company for Microsoft to get into bed with when they’re trying to break into an extremely tough market dominated by Apple. And with Nokia backing the smartphone division of Microsoft in Windows Phone, they have an army of hugely reputable manufacturers in their corner for the seemingly unwinnable war with the Cupertino giants, who recently became the most valuable company on the planet.
So, as always let us know your thoughts on the webOS situation, and your take on where they should go from here, in the comments section below. Alternatively, you can also get in touch on Twitter @ZathUK.