HP decided to end its ‘Think Beyond’ event with a surprise: webOS is coming to other connected devices, including printers, PCs and some form factors you haven’t seen before. HP hasn’t provided any additional details and it plans to do so only in the coming months. Do we think it means that HP plans to release PCs running webOS (similar to Google’s ChromeOS)? While it sounds very exciting, this is not likely to happen. Why?
On one hand, as a consumer, we see devices that blur the lines between the computer and the phone, like Apple iPad and Motorola Atrix. On the other hand, in the corporate world those segments are separated from each other. For example, it took over 3 years to convince Microsoft to enable Windows to run on devices that use ARM architecture (usually referred to as the smart-book). Intel gave up convincing Microsoft and Google to enable their mobile OS (Windows mobile and Android) to run on Intel Atom CPU, and decided to use the MeeGo OS instead. Therefore, while it will be exciting to see a webOS laptop it is not likely to happen, at least not for now. That leaves us with the question: what is HP planning to do with the webOS for computers and printers?
The traditional corporate way of thinking is to find ways to leverage the company assets. When we look on the webOS, it is another mobile OS, and not the dominant one. In other words, it is not an attractive platform for developers. On the other hand, HP is a dominant player in the computer and printer market. By enabling webOS application to run on HP computers and printers, HP can make the webOS a dominant platform and very attractive for developers. This can be an extension to HP’s OXP (Open Extensibility Platform) for running apps on HP printers. Apple is doing similar thing with the Mac App store and HP can use this idea too. While we will have to wait and see what HP is planning for us, it would be interested to hear what you think on it.