Half a billion dollars, the lottery, and webOS
Even if you've only been casually following the news this week, you've likely heard the big story. No, it's not that the Supreme Court is debating the constitutionality Obama's healthcare plan, nor is it that the Pope went to Cuba or that Syrian President Assad seems to have accepted a peace plan put forth by Kofi Annan. It's not even the Hunger Games movie, American Idol, or a Jet Blue pilot suffering from a mental break at 40,000 feet. No, the big story this week is five hundred million dollars - the estimated jackpot for the Mega Millions lottery drawing on Friday.
It's the largest jackpot in lottery history, hitting half a billion dollars for the first time (and if by some insane happenstance nobody wins it this week, it'll go even higher). It's also approaching half the price of what HP paid for Palm, and likely right around (or higher) what HP was getting offered for webOS when they were trying to sell it. HP's since gone open source with webOS, but there's still a big hurdle to be overcome: hardware.
Needless to say, buckets of hardware ain't cheap. Palm and HP spent billions of dollars building software and hardware with limited success. Now there's the chance HP to could make webOS hardware again, but the success or failure of Open webOS will depend on more than just HP. Other manufacturers have to get involved.
The question is - who would want to make that hundreds of millions of dollars investment? We already tackled the numerous obstacles that have to be overcome with making a smartphone or tablet, but in the end it all boils down to the Benjamins. Half a billion dollars could go a long way, wouldn't you say?
Now, we're not encouraging anybody to go out and buy a few dozen Mega Millions tickets and commit your hypothetical winnings towards starting a company to make webOS devices. It's your money, and your hypothetical winnings, you can spend it how you wish.
After taxes the winner of the lottery can probably expect to take home something closer to $300 million, which is still a good chunk of change. With only minimal software development to pay for, that whole chunk of change could be dedicated to personnel recruitment, supplier contracts, hardware development, and all the other things that need to happen to make a smartphone or tablet. Heck, if you're willing to plunk down a few hundred million (after saving some for yourself and that super sweet Gulfstream G650 you've had your eye on), you might find that others are willing to chip in a few million as well.
So, just for fun, we have to ask: What would you do with half a billion dollars?