How HP can sell and keep webOS at the same time
HP hinted in their last press call (the one where they discussed why they were not spinning off the Personal Systems Group) that they were going to explore all of their options with webOS and were going to take a “holistic” approach to the decision. What exactly that means, we aren’t entirely sure, but HP’s never been shy in saying that there were parts of webOS that could find their way onto desktops, servers, and printers, and we have no reason to believe that isn’t still be true.
But we have to take particular issue with that. There are a number of problems, most notably being that such an approach would preclude the possibility of consumer devices, since HP’s made it pretty obvious they’re not going to do that. And there’s the matter that we can’t see any carriers or retailers, let alone customers, being willing to take another gamble on webOS devices from a company like HP. Sure, the leadership at HP is new, but it takes a long time to overcome being burned like that (see: the relationship between webOS and Sprint).
So we’re at a hypothetical crossroads here (emphasis on hypothetical). HP wants to cut up webOS and use the back-end bits on it’s networked devices. And we, the webOS Nation, want to see webOS flourish under a new steward with new phones, tablets, and what-have-you. No company in their right mind would license webOS from HP – they’ve shown little of the commitment necessary to make webOS work when they had a lot riding on it, why would they when there’s even less, and for a potential competitor at that?
Here’s the solution: sell webOS. Sell it to whichever company is going to do right by the developers and users and everybody that built it. But how to get those good Synergy and networking bits out and implement them for behind-the-scenes goodness on your servers and printers? License those bits back from the purchaser. “We’ll sell you webOS for X dollars, and we’ll pay you Y dollars for a perpetual license to these bits.” Promise to use the tech you’re licensing back in non-consumer-facing manners (such as on servers and printers) and allow webOS to undergo yet another rebirth. Not only does this allow you to use those precious bits as needed, but in a way it also serves to reduce the price of webOS for a potential buyer (plus acknowledges the fact that HP sees something of value in the OS).
There’s no point in trying to reinvent webOS as part of HP. Even with new leadership in charge there’s been too much damage done. It’s time to find a new house for webOS, because in reality the parts that we care about – the user interface, the apps, the seamless multitasking, etc – are not the parts that HP would care about when shoehorning webOS into a server blade.
Just a suggestion.