HP just announced its plans to discontinue operations on webOS devices, specifically the recently announced TouchPad and webOS phones. The future of webOS is uncertain as HP simply added that it would "continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward". This likely means that HP is looking to either license out the software or dump it in an outright sale. 

At this point I don't know that HP needs to be at the helm of the webOS project. Licensing it out could generate short term revenue from companies looking to hedge their bets against Google/Motorola, but unless HP takes on a development partner I don't know that there's much of a future for webOS under HP's command. 

That leaves an outright sale. It's clear that HP wants to focus its business on the high margin enterprise space where success is a bit more guaranteed and away from the ultra competitive, regularly shifting consumer and ultra mobile markets. I firmly believe HP could have made Palm/webOS successful, but it would have to be commited to the platform for the long haul (read: 5+ years).

Who could do better with webOS? ASUS, HTC, Intel and Samsung all come to mind. The three Android partners could be interested in giving the vertically integrated route a try. As I mentioned in my review, had the TouchPad been free of bugs and performance issues it would be the best tablet on the market. Any of the three Android partners could continue to fund webOS development and leverage their hardware expertise. Unfortunately neither ASUS, HTC nor Samsung has a particularly great history of software development so any of them would be a risk.

Intel is the wild card here. After Nokia's recent unveiling of its first MeeGo phone it became very clear just how much potential the OS had. With Nokia's departure from the MeeGo partnership that leaves Intel without a hardware partner and not a tremendous need for new software. That being said, Intel has clearly expressed interest in supporting an alternative mobile OS that's truly open. An Intel purchase of webOS would at least put the project in the hands of a company that has real vision and the ability to execute it. 

I feel for the folks who did the impossible at Palm and created webOS in the first place. As a company Palm just needed resources to finish its task. HP looked like the home that could provide just that but in the end it ended up being another unfortunate roadblock for what was one of the most promising OSes in the mobile space.

Unless the perfect acquisitor steps forward, I'm afraid webOS may end up being the latest casualty of consolidation in the smartphone/tablet space.

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  • bigboxes - Friday, August 19, 2011 - link

    Now, you're just trolling. I thought maybe you had done some maturing as I hadn't seen you act like this in a while.
  • Pirks - Friday, August 19, 2011 - link

    Yeah n00bxqb was trolling a lot, I agree with you. I just mocked him a little. Dunno why didn't you like it
  • Belard - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - link

    While not a tablet OS.... WP7 is more elegant and easier to use over Apple, Android and WebOS.
  • TEAMSWITCHER - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    HP is a bunch of wimps. They knew that it wasn't going to be an easy thing to do, taking on the likes of Apple and Google. But to give up so soon underscores what I have always felt about them...if it's gonna be hard, they just don't have the stomach.
  • StormyParis - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    Was HP thinking that the market was awaiting WebOS as the second coming ? They needed to do a better job as the OS and Apps, and at the whole ecosystem.... and give it a bit of time.

    I don' know who could be a good steward for WebOS. There are too many OSes already, RIM will probably be the next to go, which will leave us with iOS, Android, WinPhone, and a couple a proprietary plays at the low end. That's probably sufficient. Maybe Google could buy it on the cheap and recycle and handful of IP/interface tricks ?
  • steven75 - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    "had the TouchPad been free of bugs and performance issues it would be the best tablet on the market."

    Ok that's taking it too far to the extreme. You can call it the best software or hardware, but to call it the "best tablet on the market" you are completely ignoring the total lack of an ecosystem around it.

    In the late 90's through the early 2000's (much less so now) people didn't buy Windows because it was an amazing OS, they bought it because it has, by far, the most varied software choices. Touchpad totally fails in the currently tablet market on this metric and that is often THE most important one!
  • Father Xmas - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    HP/Compaq PCs represent 50-80% of store PCs, as in what you find at BestBuy, Staples, etc. Yes I imagine that the margins on them are wafer thin but that's gong to clear the playing field for who? Dell? Asus? Lenovo?

    The WebOS tablet, was a combination of "me too" and group think. How long did it take someone to come up with a good alternative to the iPhone? And you expect your brand new, no word of mouth, tablet to sell like hot cakes in like what, 3 months of exposure, and since it didn't through the whole thing out on it's ear. Gee, zero chance of recovering investment. Hope they sacked the suits that over hyped the sale estimates.

    Anyways HP going into the phone/tablet market was probably a bad idea day 1. If you really want to make money in that market, make the parts used in them.

    I'll admit that consumers, in matters of high tech, they rather have only two "from high" options. Windows or Mac, iOS or Android. Tablets built off of other platforms like RIM's Playbook is next.
  • Byte - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    If they drop below $100, I might just have to pick one up.
  • wysingertech - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    ACER as a potential buyer. A few years ago they seriously started shipping hardware worldwide, with a series of decent products. They produce and own subsidiaries that produce plenty of mid to low end hardware. Why not leverage their tablets, netbooks, and low end laptops with an inhouse OS?
  • mooninite - Thursday, August 18, 2011 - link

    Anand, the US blog-o-sphere has this idea that Nokia is leaving MeeGo. It was entirely made up. While MeeGo devices may never hit US shores Nokia will still be involved in MeeGo for years to come. Nokia is always extremely tight-lipped about future devices so no one knows if future devices are coming.

    Please edit your article unless you can cite a source that can disprove me.

    Nokia giving raises to their MeeGo developers:

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