Why open-source WebOS has legs: because people fear Google

Why open-source WebOS has legs: because people fear Google

Summary: Sure, Google's got products and services we all use, but Google, these days, often seems more Borg and less don't-be-evil.

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Wow. Just wow. I love those days in our industry when you can feel the ground shake. You never know if it's just a tremor, or if there's a full-on earthquake coming along behind it, but the tremor is there.

Today is one of those days. Meg Whitman, now of HP, has release the former Palm's wonderful mobile operating system, WebOS, into the open-source world.

This could be big. Granted, WebOS hasn't taken off, but that's more because Palm and then HP couldn't solidify their ground game than that WebOS wasn't good enough. By any measure, WebOS is an excellent mobile OS. It's up-to-date, competitive, and has a fine user interface.

It is -- absent the appstore infrastructure -- every bit as solid for mobile devices as iOS or Android.

But WebOS has one very big thing going for it that Android doesn't: it's not Google. And that's where I think WebOS has its biggest potential. People, users and vendors, are running scared of Google. Sure, Google's got products and services we all use, but Google, these days, often seems more Borg and less don't-be-evil.

Even more to the point, Google scares vendors. After all, not only does Google have the OS, they've also gone and bought a major mobile hardware company. Vendors who run Android do so because it's freely available, but they run the risk of being under Google's thumb.

This would not be the case with WebOS. Sure, there's the whole big mo' thing that has to be factored into the equation, but if I were a betting man, I'd bet that we'll see WebOS start to take off with fringe products, but then we'll see one or two bigger players adopt WebOS simply because it's not Google.

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Topics: Open Source, Google, Mobile OS, Operating Systems

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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7 comments
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  • Disservice to WebOS

    Open Source WebOS will rise or fall on its own merits. It is a solid, stable platform.
    Your Non Advocate
  • RE: Why open-source WebOS has legs: because people fear Google

    Its has no monetary value to HP and no one else is interested in buying it, so why not give it away, maybe someone will find some value in it.
    Win8AnUglyDisaster
  • RE: Why open-source WebOS has legs: because people fear Google

    Yeah there just three small flaws, no hardware vendor (HP not about to enter that game again) No apps, No Network backing. <br><br>An every other open source mobile phone system has failed to take off outside of Google Android. <br><br>An no one I know fears Google.

    A apps producers having trouble supporting 4 OSes and I seriously doubt they will support another one. I lied that six problems.
    Knowles2
    • RE: Why open-source WebOS has legs: because people fear Google

      @Knowles2 iOS? It is based on OS X and is still Open Source.
      slickjim
    • It is understandable that you would not know

      @Knowles2
      anyone who fears Google, as you are not an OEM manufacturer, as I believe that it who he was taking about when he stated [i]Google scares [b]vendors[/b][/i]
      Tim Cook
  • If you can keep your nose clean and write stories like this you'll be fine.

    But your cred is suffering since that recent debacle of yours regarding why you went back to Windows from Linux.

    You have much to learn. Keep your head down.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
  • This again!

    How does "not being Google" give an operating system great potential. There are many open source mobile operating systems out there, and the only one that's even remotely successful is owned by Google. And how exactly does that fit in with everyone "running scared of Google"?
    Theli