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).