While the device announcements were easily the big ones today (with the TouchPad being the biggest), HP did drop a lot of hints on how it plans on steering webOS onto more than just smartphones and tablets.

Although HP's Todd Bradley didn't go too deep into it, he did mention that HP was definitely going to bring webOS to 'other new form factors', including printers and PCs. Yep, you heard that right. HP is planning on porting over webOS to its PCs sometime in the future.

Now this announcement has multiple interesting implications. For one, this will give Intel the opportunity to have its x86 CPUs power webOS, and that in itself could lead to some interesting prospects in the tablet/netbook arena. Secondly, considering the number of PCs, laptops, and netbooks HP sells world wide, having webOS run natively (or virtualized) on those machines would definitely help build up a vast userbase of webOS 'devices'. And considering the fact that user install base is probably one of the biggest factors that decides how much developers would want to invest their resources in supporting a platform, HP would do itself and webOS very good by opening up this huge potential install-base to the devs. And finally, I can only imagine the prospects of technologies such as 'Touch-to-share' if it were to roll-out on to PCs as well.

Hopefully, if HP were to continue onward with the same momentum they demonstrated today, what is listed above may actually happen a lot quicker than we can imagine.

Apart from this, on a slightly more down-to-earth note, HP announced that the Pre 2 will be available for preorder on Verizon starting February 10. Whether today's announcements will help or hurt the Pre 2's prospects remains to be seen. A number of HP's partners took to stage, including the CEOs of Beats Audio, Time, DreamWorks, etc., but the one that stood out was Dr. Paul Jacobs. He is the CEO of Qualcomm and he talked about the close partnership between HP and Qualcomm during the development of the new webOS devices. While we don't know the technicality behind the Pre 3's increased clockspeed as of yet, what we do know is that Qualcomm is definitely wooing HP to have Snapdragon power its devices, especially since Google has gone with NVIDIA and its Tegra 2 architecture as a reference platform for Android 3.0.

Update: I forgot to add this while uploading the article at midnight, but it does look like the 'Palm' brand is buried, at least for the end-user. Although no official announcement was made to this effect, there was absolutely no Palm branding listed anywhere on the slides, devices, or even the updated website.

Final Thoughts

To sum it up, it was a very strong showing on HP's part today. They didn't waste much time getting the point across: HP thinks webOS is big, and I will agree with them on most counts here. In my own personal opinion, webOS is probably one of the best mobile platforms currently available. While device build-quality, performance, developer support, poor marketing, and a lot of other factors may have led to webOS' rather lacklusture uptake, the OS in itself and the paradigm driving it is pretty solid and the user interface is probably one of the best. What will decide its future will be the execution.

On paper, HP has put forth some good devices and a whole lot of mouthwatering prospects. If done correctly, HP could have a self-contained ecosystem of webOS devices, transcending form-factors and use-cases. It remains to be seen how all of this is put into practice.

What size do you want your webOS?


View All Comments

  • anada - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    I like WebOS but the opensourceness of the thing is questionable.

    They link to a few patches for a-now-outdated version of WebOS and that does not even include the Linux kernel.

    While it looks technically very good, I've troubles seeing a future vs Android (which is FULLY open source) or iOS (which open sourced parts are MUCH larger)

    I'm not sure if closed OSes have a large chance today, where you have to rely heavily on the distributor (HP) for everything.

    As proof, the promised WebOS 2 won't be ported to the pre afterall. If it were open source, it'd be running there ages ago.
  • ltcommanderdata - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    Presumably most tech-savvy consumers already have a smartphone. What webOS and other smarthphone OS makers should be targeting is the much larger rest of the population, those still using dumbphones and maybe not even a cellphone, in order to grow the smartphone market. I'm not sure the ability to look at, contribute, compile, and install your own OS source code is a major selling feature for most people. Reply
  • Spivonious - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    I don't have a cell phone at all. I really don't see the point of a smartphone. If I need to call someone, I'm usually at home or at work. If I'm somewhere else, I probably don't want to be contacted. I have an MP3 player for music. I have a very short commute, so there's no time for videos, games, or books. I have a laptop at home and a desktop at work. If I'm out somewhere, I really don't need to have web access at all times.

    I think Apple surprised everyone when they successfully marketed the concept of a smartphone to consumers.
  • kingpotnoodle - Friday, February 11, 2011 - link

    Apple didn't sell "smartphone" to users, Apple (in a very Apple-y way) heavily marketed a device which converged all your pocket objects (iPod, phone, games) into one shiny device that made you cool and trendy, with simple idiot proof apps rather than fiddly small screened slow internets. They polished the idea and sold it as a lifestyle object in a way that appealed to the masses, not just geeks.

    Still most people who own a smart phone do very little that's actually "smart" with it, they just listen to music, call/text, use a few apps and some social networking. I see old people who can barely operate a door carrying them... just bought one cos the salesmen told them it was good.

    Smartphones owners != Smartphone feature users.
  • halcyon - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    I'd like to see a thriving multi-ecosystem in the mobile and tablet market, but I don't see it very likely.

    Apple is skimming of the easy-to-use high-end with iOS. Tech for the rest of us. Overpriced perhaps to some, but it works and sells well.

    Android is grabbing all tech-heads, much of devs and lots of mid-market and even the low-end.

    Win7 is not ready for tablet.

    Where does that leave HP as the only manufacturer fighting against Android with hordes of manufacturers?

    In a pinch.

    They have no consumer brand (esp. outside US). They are not a great marketing company. WebOS is very limited as an ecosystem and highly web centric.

    Yes, it has a lot of features and innovations going for it, but so did OS9 and still Windows dominated.

    I have no positive view for WebOS. Within 2-3 years HP will have buried it pretty much or sold it off to be integrated somehow to somebody's other platfrom.

    A shame, but alone they have no chance.
  • Dribble - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    It all sounds very nice but you know it's going nowhere. Google are going to win in the end, with apple keeping their customary % of the high end. Google are like the borg - you will be assimilated or destroyed. Reply
  • cmdrdredd - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    Actually, you won't and cannot beat Apple in the mobile space. It will never happen. You can make a dent, but Apple is too chic at the moment. What I mean is, iPhone is the first thing most people think of when I bring out my Android phone. They don't realize that the iPhone is not the only device that does what it does. Same for the iPad, plus the itunes library and app store are too vast. Google can only be second best here. Reply
  • argosreality - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    I'm sure Gm and Ford said the same thing about the vehicle market. Oops, wait... Reply
  • Aloonatic - Friday, February 11, 2011 - link

    I am not so sure that you are right, in the mobile space as a whole.

    Apple have done a great job establishing and growing the market. Sucking people in, but that was during the high spending, early adopter phase. However, now, the deals/tariffs that go along with their devices are just way too expensive for many people, but more people want in, so Google are taking up their business.

    Apple will always have a good position in the high end smart phone market, but we are seeing a mid/lower end, cheaper market appear, with devices such as the HTC Wildfire. Apple aren't interested in cheap-skates who won't or can't afford to buy apps and stuff though, so it's no skin off of Apple's nose, I'm sure.

    Therefore, I believe that, just as in almost every other mass consumer markets, the number of people in the mid/low end will be far far greater than the high end. So Apple wont dominate the whole market forever, but I doubt that that matters to them, in the end. They will still have a big stake in the most lucrative, high-end market ,which is just how they like it :o)
  • StormyParis - Friday, February 11, 2011 - link

    I'm no longer sure about the high-end thing.

    Apple have such volume, that they can make money at low price points. They can get the best components&assembly deals, amortize research, get lots of free press... So they can be profitable in the low-end. Neither the iPhone, iPad nor iPod are horrendously expensive compared to competing products.

    And above all, there's the whole lock-in +network effect thing. Once you start buying things from iTunes, it starts to make sense buying lots of iTunes hardware, then more content, then more hardware...

    I'm sure, as long as it won't devalue their brand, Apple will be thrilled to have "starter" (gateway ?) products to suck more customers in.

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