Tuesday, September 27, 2011

HP seeking new directions for WebOS? Here's some.

Why do I care for WebOS? Mainly because it is the continuation of Palm. I want to see another personal computing pioneer who has done so much innovation in the mobile / handheld computing space to survive and reap it's rewards. Palm has done so much to survive and grow in the face of challenges including change when change was required. Not too many  have survived in the way they have. WebOS may not be recognizable as something from Palm to their users of a decade ago, but it is an evolution that Palm undertook to continue to innovate and change to where they wanted the technology to be. Too many people think Microsoft and Apple were the only companies that did anything to advance the personal computer. Even tech journalists, especially sloppy ones, don't even acknowledge Palm's place in history as the first popular handheld consumer computing device. Even fewer know about PenPoint OS from Go Corporation, the pioneer in pen-based tablet computing. They were supposed to introduce a tablet PC in the early 90s but were FUDed out by Microsoft. This resulted in a wait and see attitude by developers and users. And we know how successful that Windows Pen Computing was. And Windows tablets. So what did GO left us? Think of this, without Go, we would have never have had Flash.
Ok, here a few ideas...

If you have gotten this far, chances are you aren't from HP. But if you are thinking about buying or licencing WebOS, here a few ideas I am sharing.

Licence it out 
What is Apple's business model? They sell premium priced hardware. Their OS is designed to take advantage of the hardware to the max since they control exactly what they are. The don't charge for the OS separately so the development cost for it is fixed and one-time (sorta). The more Macs they sell, don't translate in to more software sales. But the more hardware they sell (PCs, tables, phones) the more their revenue. They do also get a cut from things they sell on their marketplaces but the model is still the same, more sold means more profit. More tablets sold is like more store fronts being opened. That is their strength.
That dependency on hardware sales is also it's weakness. They rely on the software to sell premium priced hardware. Hardware-wise they are no different than most PCs. In fact, the same hardware specs costs a lot less in the PC world. To counter Apple, take the opposite direction but with the same intention. Sell more hardware and make WebOS a driver for consumers to buy more hardware. That means cheaper hardware with the same performance. Focus on blanketing the market first and then break it into low-end, mid-end and premium hardware segment. Build a low-cost, easy to build model for the masses and exclusive, blinged-out, celebrity endorsed versions for the trendy.
For example, make WebOS work on a commodity platform like the numerous no-name Android-compatible tablets platforms. Then licence it to any Tom, Dick and Harry (or Chen, Wong and Lee). Those hardware manufacturers would love another OS for their hardware platform because it will sell more of their hardware. Think Microsoft in the 80s when they sold the OS on IBM PCs to other manufacturers.
Another thing about Apple tablets is their closed nature. So do the opposite, make a consumer tablet that is more like the PC. Make a tablet reference platform with removable, swappable components. Expand on what HP has now. Invent a tablet bus if you have to. And get others to make the peripherals for it. Start with printers. Make printing the easiest thing to do on a WebOS tablet. I'll give you a clue - HP has a single driver for almost all of it's printers for CUPS. For the rest, make special drivers. Don't get distracted with other peripherals. Focus on the core reference platform and help others make 3G modems (to take advantage of the latest version of mobile broadband), barcode scanners, wireless Network cards, high capacity batteries, keyboards, a second display, to name a few. They help sell more of WebOS hardware and with them WebOS licences.

Running long. There is a part two.


  1. Anonymous2:30 PM

    Hi, Tech Splatter.

    As a veteran Linux user, could you suggest us which Android based smart phones best for us to buy at the moment?

    Need your advise. Thanks

    -- Malaysian Linux Newbie

  2. Good question. Look for a post on this in next few days.

  3. Here it is. Some thought on how to buy a new Andriod phone. http://www.techsplatter.com/2011/09/choosing-android-smartphone.html


Recently Popular