Friday, 11 February 2011

WebOS - the other OS

On the day that Nokia and MS announced their tie up, HP also released their latest set of Web OS devices. Yes, Web OS. The OS2 Warp of the 2010s. Even the intro video is frankly a bit embarassing - for starters, Todd Bradley appears to be the only person in the audience clapping when he arrives.

Anyway, if you haven't got two hours to listen, here's some highlights:



The aim
  • Leverage the capabilities of HP to create a step change in mobile computing similar in scale to the introduction of the HP35 calculator (wasn't that the iPhone?)

  • First OS designed from scratch to fully embrace the Internet (and the need for that is...)
The market

  • Most people have multiple devices and they consume a lot of web based content

  • No one has developed a solution that works consistently across those devices (Android?)

  • WebOS is a unique technology leveraged across a range of (HP) devices

Technology

  • The "Synergy" feature merges information from cloud and brings it onto devices in an interactive and easy to use way

  • Techies like WebOS

  • They've launched a mini smartphone that uses cloud computing to replicate the features of the big phone in the package of a small one - Veer

You may have noticed that I'm skeptical about WebOS. The trouble as I see it is that although it seems like smart technology, the clever bit about OS X, Android and (perhaps in the future) mobile Windows is the underpinning business ecosystem they support.

HP has the scale in devices to make such an ecosystem appetising for developers, however it lacks the guts at an enterprise level to pull Windows out of the desktop and laptop and replace it with WebOS. If it isn't willing to do that, then the OS remains on niche devices and the ecosystem won't develop. In that case HP should stick to being a commodity hardware manufacturer and stop messing around with operating systems it isn't committed to.

The Nokia announcement has been received as bad for the Finns. As HP is Microsoft's biggest vendor, perhaps its worse for HP - now they won't be the partner of choice on non-desktop devices. All their eggs are firmly in the Web OS basket.

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