Rumors of WebOS death are greatly exaggerated

first_imgThursday afternoon started for me as many often have recently, in a Google+ Hangout with colleagues discussing all of the news that has befallen the tech world this week. Then, silence washed over us as we all got the same message at the same time. HP was spinning off their PC division, and there was speculation that WebOS was somewhere on that chopping block. Shortly thereafter the news was confirmed by an earnings call. It seemed like HP was no longer seeing the value in WebOS, and they had enacted a 12-16 month plan to deal with it.Now, for some reason, many people heard this and immediately started putting nails in WebOS’ coffin. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, this event should symbolize the exact opposite, the rebirth of WebOS.“You aren’t fooling anyone”Let’s face it, the plague cart has been outside of HP’s door since they day they bought Palm. Despite hearing the call, HP decided not to bring out the dead. If Android couldn’t get away with releasing tablets with unfinished software on it, WebOS’ savior in tablet form was doomed before it hit the shelves.Despite claims to the contrary, WebOS’s primary failure was a marketing one. A perfectly functional and pleasing to use OS was repeatedly mired by not being iOS or Android, and there was little marketing done to show why that was not only good, but great. Still, despite being the stereotypical abusively neglectful foster parent, WebOS still has something that no other OS could maintain under the same circumstances: a community.Pot, meet KettleAmusingly, one of the most outspoken in his jabs at HP yesterday was Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Computers. His new favorite toy, Google+ was home to multiple comments that could be seen as good naturedly ribbing his competitor.Now, I’m all for one company poking fun at another, especially when there’s some amusing commentary to be had. However, isn’t it bad form that one company who earlier this year canned their mobile division due to a volley of failed projects and record low sales for Android devices in carrier stores? Sure, you can compartmentalize and poke fun at the PC business, but really Mr. Dell? WebOS would have destroyed Dell’s Android offering in a side by side comparison, no question.The community will save WebOS Plain and simple, all WebOS needed was decent hardware and a real marketing campaign. The WebOS forums are filled to the brim with users who have moved on to other platforms because they just plain needed better hardware. They sit, visibly miserable with their iPhones or Android phones waiting for someone to come along and release them from their prison. These aren’t just regular users, either. These are beta testers, developers, fanatics, people who will spread the word with a furious passion if they are given cause to. With a proper hardware platform, even recent events would only marginally slow them down.The disenfranchised helping the ignoredI wrote earlier this week that Google’s hardware partners would stick with Android because there’s nowhere else to go. The rock and hard place situation created by Apple and Google right now is undeniable. HTC, Samsung, Huawei, Sony… they have all got to keep making Android handsets to keep in the race against Apple, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t throw WebOS a bone. If any of these manufacturers were to put out a decent phone running WebOS, we would see a significant transformation as the WebOS culture grew and became a real competitor. This process wouldn’t be fast, probably over the course of a year, but it hinges squarely on decent hardware and good marketing.Apps! Apps! Apps! No, not reallyWebOS doesn’t have nearly the app catalog that tech pundits feel is should in order to survive. This is true, but WebOS has something that none of the other competitors have right now, which is a decent web browser. Forget SunSpider tests or random page loading videos for a second, the WebOS browser is by far the most complete, and that makes the necessity for apps a complete fallacy. Look at Amazon, who in a rush of independance and desire to stick it to the man took their Kindle app and turned it into a powerful web app that can now be enjoyed by anyone with a browser. Amazon did it, so believe that other will follow suit to escape Apple’s walled garden.Or, take Google Voice, as another example. In my recent 60 day excursion into WebOS I was blown away at how easy it was to use the Google Voice webapp in replacement for the Android app. The analysts who are busy on their soapboxes talking about apps are living in the past. Webapps will take over, and WebOS is better prepared for that then anyone.It’s only mostly deadWebOS has been dealt blow after blow, to be sure, but to start pulling out nails for its coffin is premature. There’s still a chance here for WebOS to shine and be a real competitor in the mobile space, as long as some other horrible calamity doesn’t befall it before the chance can be had.last_img

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