Can HP make WebOS relevant?

Can HP make WebOS relevant?

Summary: Hewlett-Packard on Feb. 9 is widely expected to debut webOS tablets and a new Pre smartphone. The big question is whether HP can make webOS relevant to developers and consumers.


Hewlett-Packard on Feb. 9 is widely expected to debut webOS tablets and a new Pre smartphone. The big question is whether HP can make webOS relevant to developers and consumers.

According to analysts, HP's webOS has a tough climb ahead. Among the challenges:

  • Carriers already support four major mobile OS platforms---Apple's iOS, Google's Android, Microsoft's Window Phone 7 and Research in Motion's BlackBerry platform. Are carriers really going to rally around the webOS?
  • WebOS lacks the developer support of iOS and Android.
  • Consumers are likely to be iffy on the webOS due to lack of exposure (except for people that bought the Palm Pre).
  • It's unlikely that HP will be able to undercut Apple on tablet pricing.

Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore highlights the webOS challenge:

We believe HP has an enormous mountain to climb in terms of closing the gap behind Apple iOS and Android and becoming a relevant platform. As highlighted below, Apple and Google have an enormous competitive advantage in terms of developer support, number of available Apps on the platform, App and Developer revenues and downloads. Further, pricing of HP’s hardware will be of paramount importance as HP walks the fine line between profitability vs. share as its need to gain a foothold in the fast growing tablet market, yet lacks Apple’s scale in ARM and NAND (we think HP needs to undercut Apple on price). In addition, major carriers like AT&T and Verizon are already supporting up to 4 smartphone platforms (iOS, Android, Windows 7 & RIMM). Is there really room for a 5th mobile OS platform in carriers’ Advertising, Service and Support budgets?

Graphically, the webOS challenge looks like this:

Indeed, there are a bevy of challenges for the webOS. Look for HP to exert its scale to offer competitive pricing. It's unclear whether HP has the will to undercut on pricing in the name of market share.  Can the webOS be cutting edge again?

Topics: Laptops, Apple, Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, Mobility, Operating Systems, Smartphones, Tablets

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  • Will this be an Android knock-off?

    Or are we *finally* going to get features that can make a tablet, a tablet in the truest sense of the word.

    All these players and no one but Microsoft wants to include handwriting recognition.

    I don't want an upscaled smartphone OS.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • Seriously... because no one wants it.. only you & Bill Gates..

      @Cylon Centurion 0005 .. handwriting recognition is slow and error prone.. typing is faster and more accurate (even at 90+ percent accuracy it's still annoying..).. people have come to realize this. there are a few niche areas.. artist etc where you might need this, but for regular people... no on wants it.. it sucks.. it's slow.. like you said.. MS has had it for years.. palm has had it.. Apple had it with the Newton.. no one wants it!
      • How is it slow and error prone?


        I've never had that experience.

        Typing on a tablet is ten times as slow as just plain handwriting.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • RE: Can HP make WebOS relevant?

        @doctorSpoc I have it and I don't find it slow or annoying <img border="0" src="" alt="happy"> When I take notes I prefer handwriting to typing as I am a two finger typer and that is slow and annoying. I use a Touchsmart tm2 and that really is one thing I like about it (but I hate the string hanging down so I don't lose the stylist) :-(
      • Using it for years, works fine,

        Works so much better then typing on an on-screen keyboard.
        But you actually have to have tried using it to make a good comparison
        John Zern
    • RE: Can HP make WebOS relevant?

      @Cylon Centurion 0005 The handwriting recognition on my previous windows mobile devices was always more of a toy than anything else for me. My writing style is "unique" maybe "creative"? (Any euphemism for terrible writing). I've had a few windows mobile/ce devices in my life, it's never really been anymore more than a gimmick for me... The closest I ever came to something usable for handwriting was palm graffiti, but that was terrible because you had to memorize an alternative alphabet.
  • In a word: no

  • No.

  • They can do what RIM did

    HP has the advantage that they can go 100% vertical, and provide a backend like BES that neither Apple nor Android provide, and Microsoft only does to a certain extent with Activesync. If HP starts in the server room, it's much easier to get the admins on board and work their way forward.

    • But it would be shorter to say &quot;No&quot;

  • No

    The subject.
  • RE: Can HP make WebOS relevant?

    Not after leaving behind all the Palm people at Sprint.
  • RE: Can HP make WebOS relevant?

    "...Consumers are likely to be iffy on the webOS due to lack of exposure (except for people that bought the Palm Pre)..."

    Could this possibly be because you and most of the lame-stream technical press have never:
    1) Bothered to write anything about the Pre and WebOS in the last year?
    2) Probably have never even tried the Pre to see how it works.
    3) Considered that something besides a Windoze or Micro$oft package would be worth writing about. Yes, you write about the 'Droids and iPhone, but probably because you were pressured by a large company that Palm never was.

    The Pre Plus is not just an EXCELLENT phone, it is also a GOOD PDA. I could not care less about the games and toys in most of the apps for other smartphones.
    • RE: Can HP make WebOS relevant?

      @MCGJr Palm missed the boat several times. For a long time the Palm Treo was THE smart phone. When the iPhone came out, rather than take the opportunity to ditch the stylus and the crappy keyboard, they kept making more of the same... Not only that they ignored the lesson on marketing that the iPhone taught us all within the first 6 months of its release. When the first iPhone came out, my Treo was superior to it in every way simply because it supported native applications (rather than mobile-web applications), but no-one knew that.

      If Palm had ever made more than a half assed attempt to be consumer smart phone (the pre was half assed) they would be where Blackberry currently is. The game is over for palm, the reason no one cares about them is they missed the boat long before the Pre ever came out. The Pre was 2 years too late to the game and poorly marketed.
      • RE: Can HP make WebOS relevant?

        I have big flat fingertips. I tried an iPhone and returned it. For me its no stylus, no sale
  • Marketing

    WebOs is so smart and simple to use. It is the best OS on a handheld device, a true PDA device. If you could get it into the hands of people to use it and see how it works, it would sell. It will take a marketing genius to pull this off. You need a model at a price point every non-smartphone user can afford. A model that rivals everything else's out there with specs. And a tablet that is more functional to use than just sitting next to your recliner while watching TV. Dont' screw this up HP.
    • RE: Can HP make WebOS relevant?

      @douttje@... They missed the boat on consumer marketing years ago and have nothing but catch up to do.
  • RE: Can HP make WebOS relevant?

    Betamax was better than VHS but never made it. WebOS may be better than Android but show me track record for HP with anyting outside of calculators and printers where they were serious competitiors. IT jockeys may like their rack mount stuff but the white colar business user and the consumer don't care about the server. Too many changes going at HP right now to think the WebOS will get the attention it requires in order to succeed. OpenView on WebOS might be interesting. Kits that make porting Droid apps to WebOS might boost interest. Anything "me-too" will be seen as failing to innovate. Currently, only Apple is allowed to copy and call it innovation.

    For my money, WebOS will fade away as HP does not know how to market products.
    • RE: Can HP make WebOS relevant?

      @mryanaz I used a HP iPaq for years (WinMo) and before that I had a Palm Pilot. I definitely prefered the iPaq because I found the HP product better (specs and build)
  • RE: Can HP make WebOS relevant?

    I think that in the internet age it is much less important to have a huge share to survive. You don't need all your friends to have the same platform so you can share cool apps or games since even with a small percentage there will still be millions of users around the world and websites dedicated to the platform.