HP sees a world in which WebOS drives our cars and washes our clothes.
This may be overstating the case slightly, but it's no stretch to say that Hewlett-Packard is looking to extend the use of WebOS past the mobile realm and into appliances and cars. An article published on Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal confirms that HP is indeed in talks with specific auto and appliance manufacturers about WebOS integration into a diverse range of products.
While not naming names, WebOS' Stephen DeWitt attested to the "enormous amount of interest" in the operating system from companies outside the typical home or mobile computing market. This confirms the goals set by HP CEO Leo Apotheker, who spoke at the D9 conference in June about getting WebOS adopted far and wide.
"I happen to believe that WebOS is a uniquely outstanding operating system," Apotheker stated. "It's not correct to believe that it should only be on HP devices. 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."
When HP acquired Palm in April of last year, the company clearly sought a benefit from the patent portfolio and the overall experience in mobile technology. However, there was no question that HP was particularly interested in developing and expanding WebOS.
“We think it’s one of the best operating systems out there today. We see nothing in development in the next 3 to 5 years that comes close,” said Brian Humphries, HP’s Senior Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development, in a post-acquisition interview with TechCrunch's MG Siegler. "We want to take HP’s financial strength and use it to take WebOS to the next level...we’ll compete aggressively in the market with Apple and Google. We’ve got our hands on a very compelling operating system."
The first tangible fruit of this association was the HP TouchPad. Initially one of the best hopes to provide some competition to the monolithic market share of Apple's iPad models, the TouchPad faced an uphill battle in consumer adoption. Recent and early price drops made the product more attractive but may have also shaken consumer (and investor) confidence. On the other hand, reviewers were fairly unanimous in praise of WebOS -- or at the very least, in praise of its potential if developers began to deliver the all-important apps.
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