Believe it or not, webOS chief Stephen DeWitt told AllThingsD on Monday that webOS is going to be a popular platform on a variety of connected devices. The outlook seems somewhat unusual given that HP publicly nuked its plans to continue development of smartphones and tablets based on its just-acquired webOS software. And right now it seems that the platform itself has been put "on hold" although it's expected to appear on PCs and printers possibly next year.
The problem HP currently faces is that it's not sure where the future of webOS resides. There are a number of options on the tablet including licensing out the operating system to other manufacturers, partner with a single company to produce devices, shift its webOS focus from smartphones and tablets entirely and a few other ideas. And despite what's happened since HP acquired (and dismantled) Palm, there are external third parties still interested in the software.
“We’ve had a number of discussions and there’s a lot of interest around webOS,” said DeWit.
One aspect of the webOS future seems certain: it will arrive on HP desktops and printers. "We are continuing with our webOS-on-Windows work,” DeWitt said. The company will honor its previous commitments, but when that will take place he wouldn't say, only indicating that the company will reveal its plans when it's ready.
For those who purchased AT&T's webOS-powered Veer smartphone or picked up a $100 TouchPad tablet over the weekend, here's a bit of good news: HP plans to offer further updates for both devices. HP's Veer smartphone will continue to be sold, supported and updated. TouchPad owners who purchased the device before the fire sale will even be "taken care of," with more details surrounding that group of loyal customers coming soon.
Even more, consumers who were smacking their lips for a Pre3 upgrade may even still get a chance to do so. “Pre3 is being launched in very selective areas,” DeWitt said without providing specifics. “We’re not broadly launching Pre3.”
Ultimately HP knows it has a lot of work to do in the PR department now that the webOS cat is out of the proverbial bag. Offering up its discontinued tablet for $100 (rather than dump them all in a landfill next to Atari's E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial) was a step in the right direction, but there's still quite a bit of confusion as to where HP plans to go. As it stands now, it looks like HP was more focused on building its patent portfolio than producing actual consumer products. After all, the TouchPad was on the market for a month before HP threw in the towel? Seriously HP?
"I think the reaction to the news has been intense," he said. "We have a lot of work to do in terms of communicating more clearly what was shared with the public last week."
Honestly, something smells fishy. Like Nintendo, HP made a drastic move by dropping the pricetag of its first two tablets down to $99 (16 GB) and $149.99 (32 GB), and now it plans to offer something for those who purchased the tablets prior to the price hack. The company's original goal was to become the #2 tablet on the market, seemingly wanting to slide into second place after Apple's iPad 2. What better way to flood the tablet market than by offering a "fire sale" while still supporting the operating system? Now all those new customers – those who previously wouldn't have purchased the pricey tablets – will now be purchasing apps (which HP gets a percentage).
On the other hand, these customers will not be able to complain too much, given the huge discount they received. Apple has fooled it's customers repeatedly with new and "improved" versions of their phone and tablet and the discount was symbolic in their case (of course, one has to take into account the fact that their customers are extremely loyal and would not agree for one second they got cheated by their gods).
One final alternative for webOs would be to actually become just an OS, distributed to various hardware makers, like Android is. In this case, their best bet would be to expand support for cross-platform applications, i.e. to enable iOS and Android apps to run on their webOS environment. Imagine the freedom to choose not only the hardware, but also the best of all app worlds. If such an OS existed, I would jump in without looking back.
Dear webOS Developer,
We have opened the next chapter for webOS, and we understand that you must have many questions. Yesterday we announced that we will focus on the future of webOS as a software platform but we will no longer be producing webOS devices. While this was a difficult decision, it's one that will strengthen our ability to focus on further innovating with webOS as we forge our path forward. Throughout this journey, our developers will continue to be a vital part of the future of webOS.
We will continue to support, innovate and develop the webOS App Catalog. Our intent is to enhance our merchandising and presentation of your great products and to continue to build our webOS app ecosystem.
As many of you are aware, we are currently scheduled to hold many developer events around the world. We are planning to continue with these events, however, due to the recent announcements; the nature of them will change. These updates will be posted on our events registration site this coming week. We are eager to present to you the updated strategy for webOS and to hear your feedback.
Lastly, I wish to express our sincere appreciation for your ongoing support for webOS and the many teams responsible for it here at HP.
This is a particularly dynamic time in the mobile industry and sometimes tough decisions need to be made about not only what to do, but also what not to do. This has been one of those times. Together with our great webOS developer community, we are confident that we will meet the challenges ahead and build momentum for optimal success.
We will be communicating with you frequently over the next few weeks and we look forward to hearing from you throughout this process.
Thanks for your support
VP webOS Developer Relations
But of coarse this is assuming the CEO of HP is not an idiot and he has a smart plan at the works.
For those that don't know HP CEO Leo Apotheker was FIRED from his job at SAP.
and i do not expect it will improve now. how are they going to keep people to make apps for webOS when not many people will have a tablet with webOS on it to begin with?