Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Is HP’s webOS Relevant?

webos_logoWe have been getting bombarded with amazing new devices in the cellular smart phone industry.  Phones with Android, iOS, Windows Phone 7, RIM’s Blackberry OS and webOS.  We have seen big players such as Nokia drop their own Symbian to adopt a more relevant OS for their devices in the form of Windows Phone 7.  But of the four OS’s available, is webOS still a relevant platform?  Is it still something consumers will be interested in?

Hewlett-Packard bought out and absorbed Palm last year.  They did so to get an immediate foothold in the smart phone industry, and as some pundits at the time believed it was a method to have their own OS for a tablet.  Turns out they were right.  But the real question right now is, was it worth it?

The Palm Pre and Pixi (Plus) phones that were released a couple of years ago are no longer seeing any updates.  Rumors had it we would see them bumped to version 2.x of webOS, but HP decided to state that it was not possible to do so.  That the hardware couldn’t handle the new features.  Of course, there are those the feel that is inaccurate, and it is all about the money.  Perhaps it is, but oh well.

The real issue here is not about getting updates, though.  It is about webOS being on only one group of devices, all owned and developed by a single company.  Sure, Apple does it too.  However, Apple has a strong following and a strong OS that anyone with any skill level can utilize.  WebOS is the same, but HP doesn’t have the penetration at this time.  Nor does it have the strong number of apps like Android and iOS has.  Even the Windows Phone 7 platform is making strides at building a large app library.

Believe it or not, a strong app library is what will make it in this industry.  Blackberry has a small library, but it has all the RIGHT apps.  Plus, the Blackberry is aimed directly at the professionals.  iOS and Android have thousands of apps, of all sorts, for all kinds of people.  These are OS’s that are aimed at a wide variety of people.  Windows Phone 7 is trying to break into the area that Apple and Google dominate.  But it is bringing its strong Xbox platform to the table.  What about webOS?  It is to simple for the professionals, to limited for the hardcore users, and the form factor to the phones tend to be to small for larger handed individuals.

I am making a prediction here.  WebOS will become irrelevant by the summer of 2012.  It will die off.  UNLESS HP can come up with some revolutionary ideas for the platform to make it worthwhile…such as biting the cost of apps and giving them away for free to all users for a month.

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