In almost the same moment that webOS
looked like it was effectively being put out to pasture
, hope glimmers for the mobile operating system. HP CEP Meg Whitman told TechCrunch in an interview
that the company could make webOS-based tablets starting in 2013.
This is a somewhat confusing development. We viewed HP’s open sourcing of webOS as the company cutting its losses but allowing the platform a slight chance of success elsewhere, despite the fact that HP said it would (sort of) continue to support the project. (It’s not like HP is going to hire back the 500-or-so webOS workers it laid off in September.)
With these comments from Whitman, however, it seems as though open sourcing webOS was less of a passive move and more of a strategic one. If HP is hoping to bring back webOS on tablets, this is simply a low-risk, low-cost way of conducting R&D. Should the open source community, with modest support from HP, keep webOS alive and well (or improve it, or at least keep it up to date with emerging technologies), then HP can slap it onto some future hardware and see how it does.
Perhaps this is a hedge against HP’s bet on Windows 8 for its tablets. If so, it’s an interesting move.
Usually, when a company’s direction changes rapidly and in a confusing manner, it’s a bad sign, but in this case it’s reason for encouragement. Whitman is making some tough, bold decisions and cleaning up the mess left by her predecessor. HP just might have found itself a good leader.