D9 conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. today, Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker said that it is a possibility that WebOS might end up on devices other than what HP manufactures.Speaking at the
"It is certainly something we would entertain," Apotheker said, according to AllThingsD. About 130 miles south in San Diego, WebOS head John Rubinstein said that licensing the operating system to select original equipment manufacturers is something that HP might consider. Licensing WebOS could be a great way for HP to broaden its horizons in the mobile market and cut into the market share of Apple, Android and Windows Phone 7 while bringing dynamic new Palm smartphones to the market. Will there ever be a HP WebOS Palm phone brought to you by Motorola or HTC?
HTC would be a prime target for HP to license WebOS. A lot of its recent success has been built off of Android but the OEM also makes Windows Phone devices. Samsung is a strong manufacturer that also creates devices for different mobile operating systems including Android, WP7 and its in-house OS, Bada.
The question would be whether or not HP would allow the likes of HTC, Motorola or Samsung to customize WebOS. Samsung Android phones are layered with the TouchWiz user interface and HTC has the popular and well-designed Sense. The answer may come from Windows Phone, as none of the devices from different OEMs differentiate WP7 except for the hardware specifications that go into the devices.
Best Of Both Worlds? Control Like Apple, License Like Android
HP could decide not to license WebOS and try to control the entire vertical ecosystem, the way Apple does with iOS.
"Our model is not to be in the licensing business. There is tremendous strength in building the whole ecosystem," Rubinstein said, according to MarketWatch.
Even though it seems like there is a new phone coming from the major OEMs every week or so, manufacturers indeed have a finite amount of resources to feed devices. If HP can gain market share and divert equipment resources away from Android and WP7 devices, it is a double win for HP and validate the acquisition of Palm in April 2010.
Apotheker also said that HP will make WebOS available to enterprises and small business channels.
"It's not correct to believe that it should only be on HP devices," Apotheker said according to AllThingsD. "There are all kinds of other people who want to make whatever kind of hardware they make and would like to connect them to the Internet. We'll make it available to enterprises and to SMBs. It will run on lots of HP devices."
Tablets, Computers and Clouds, Oh My
WebOS is going to be HP's major push into a couple of key arenas important in the tech ecosystem right no - mobile devices and platforms along with the cloud and Web services. WebOS will find its way to tablets and smartphones, like the HP TouchPad, but will also live alongside Windows on HP computers. It is not out of the realm of possibility to see Web-only notebooks, a la Google's Chrome operating system.
HP WebOS has 2% of the mobile market share, according to Nielsen with pre-acquisition Palm WebOS still holding onto to 1% or less of the market. Basically, anything that HP does from here will be sure to improve that, whether the company ends up licensing WebOS to OEMs or not.