|12/10/2011, 10:05 AM||#1 (permalink)|
Open Sourcing webOS was the only option that HP ever had available to them. When they purchased Palm over a year ago, there were some lofty hopes and dreams that anyone looking down the road never would have believed would actually come true.
Let's take a step back and look at what probably prompted the purchase of Palm in the first place. Apple was rolling in cash from sales of devices running its proprietary iOS operating system. The profit margins were high on these devices, and since no other company could sell iOS devices, Apple had a lock-in with these products. Android on the other hand was seeing its marketshare take off, but at the expense of each device becoming commoditized. Devices were getting faster, and faster, but also cheaper in order to compete against each other. This was/is the same race to the bottom that happened with netbooks. It's hard to remain profitable when you have near zero profit margins with your products.
The future of computing is inarguably going to be mobile, and HP had no products in the mobile category (with the exception of extremely dated iPaq smartphones). Apple just released the iPad, and their profits and stock price were going through the roof. If HP was going to continue to grow, they would need to get in on this game. Microsoft had no viable operating system that looked promising, and putting Windows on a tablet wasn't a competetive strategy. The talk amongst the tech crowd was that Apple nailed it and the secret to a tablets success is taking a mobile operating system and raising it up to work well on a larger screen.
Enter Palm with their failing business, but wonderful webOS operating system, and the purchase looked like a great idea. HP would get their own proprietary OS, which would allow them to maintain healthy profit margins on their products, and give them a solid plan for entering the mobile market.
Then reality sets in.
In order to get webOS competetive, they need products, developers, and marketing. All of which costs a lot of money. By the time the Touchpad was about to go on sale, it was probably becoming evident just how expensive this gamble would be. Billions more would have to be invested in the platform in order for it to be competetive, and even then there was no guarantee of success. Looking down the road, Windows 8 was in development and was going to be Microsoft's solution to the tablet market. Windows Phone and Android were pushing heavily into the smartphone arena. In order for webOS to rise above the competition, they would need a whole lot of luck, and a lot of money. In the end, would it be worth the cost?
The answer they decided was no. But then what to do with webOS? It's still great software, but there really was nobody who would want to buy it. Any purchasers (whether HTC, Samsung, or Amazon) would have the same problems that HP faced.
That leads to yesterdays decision and deciding to open source the software and see what happens from there. It worked for Android, so maybe it will work for webOS. The detractors will say that it didn't work for Symbian, MeeGo, Maemo, and a whole host of other open source operating systems.
The difference I see is that webOS was more or less a finished product. It worked. MeeGo was/is a work in progress. It's just beginning. Symbian couldn't be helped, even by the open source community. webOS on the other hand has been around the block. It has been on phones and tablets. It works. There's an ecosystem for it already, even if it is small. It doesn't have the legal baggage that Android has, and with some luck, it could actually take off. The road doesn't have to end here.
There is still hope.
|12/10/2011, 11:40 AM||#3 (permalink)|
Just to elaborate...
HP Not Getting into the Smartphone Business
Where mark Hurd, that bought, webos and was running the show said,
"We didn't buy Palm to be in the smartphone business. And I tell people that, but it doesn't seem to resonate well. We bought it for the IP."
What that means we'll probably never know cause they booted him and gone was the full vision for webos. Leo comes in from SAP... Clearly you see his software/services background and the direction he was taking hp with the boards blessing but they are now stuck with webos that they spent over a billion and run with the smartphone/tablet play and f it up.
They were shopping autonomy... Willing to pay 12 billion... They weren't going mobile. They even killed the pc division. They just took webos and probably listened to ruby saying he can make it work in mobile and ran with it until they realized ruby was off again and moved him.
Now they can't get enough money for it... Open source is their only choice... Probably hoping to show some life in webos to attract a buyer in the future. Cause their future is to be like IBM... U don't see IBM selling smartphones.