The State of the webOS Nation [webOS.O.S.]
My fellow Mobile Accomplishers,
Our community has been shaken by recent events. The past year has seen yet another rebirth and near death experience for Palm and webOS. The future of the webOS platform may be in question, but know this: our community has never been stronger. We’ve welcomed thousands of new and returning members to our community, and stand to welcome many more.
We stand on the precipice of an uncertain future. HP has stated their intention to cease making webOS devices, but appears to remain committed to webOS as a platform. It’s no secret that webOS has lacked both marketshare and mindshare, but the recent liquidation discounts HP applied to the TouchPad have helped to expand awareness of webOS as a platform among the general population.
HP has many options at hand for webOS. While they may not want to make webOS devices anymore, don’t think that doesn’t mean there isn’t a future for webOS. Google’s purchase of Motorola changed everything in the mobile space and opened the door for webOS from a new manufacturer.
Whether HP intends to license or sell webOS at this point has not been clarified, though most signs from within the webOS Global Business Unit point towards licensing. Of course, we have to keep in mind that that very unit was kept in the dark about HP leadership’s decision to axe webOS hardware until the information was already public. Even so, licensing appears to be the most realistic solution for the future of webOS. Device manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, and LG have been floated as possible licensees; all could do wonders for webOS. They have handheld manufacturing expertise, carrier relationships, and brand recognition with consumers in a space where HP has very little.
It will likely be months before any such partnership yields results. The combination of hardware and software development, testing, carrier approval, and a dozen other steps mean it will take several months for any new webOS device to make it to market. In the meantime, we’re going to have to make do with what we have now. HP has said they remain dedicated to webOS, which includes updates, backup and restore services, and the App Catalog.
Our community will persevere no matter the future. We have the best and brightest members and a staff dedicated to ensuring the environment is open and welcoming to new and old members alike. In the face of the unsure future for webOS, we have to remain open to all possibilities, while maintaining our optimistic outlook.
webOS is not dead. But we have to be realistic about the future. webOS may not yet be dead, but it is on life support. The future is dependent upon companies with which our community has no experience. The last time that happened – when HP bought Palm – things did not go as smoothly as we would have liked. It will not be easy, and it will not happen quickly. This is not the last time this community will be tested.
The people behind webOS are still a talented and dedicated crew. They are committed to making sure webOS continues to improve, that it sees success. Their goals are the goals of our community.
We must not forget about WebOS Internals. Their tireless volunteer coding has improved webOS in ways that Palm and HP could not. They depend on the support of HP and – more importantly – the support of this community. Without the community, WebOS Internals would be nothing. And without WebOS Internals, this community would be nothing like what it is today. The open source work of WebOS Internals has promoted optimism and camaraderie unequaled anywhere in the mobile space.
webOS can succeed. With the right companies behind it, strong marketing and developer support, and improved carrier relationships, webOS can take its place as a recognized member of the mobile ecosystem. Our platform of choice might be down, but as recent days have shown, webOS is not out. Far from it.
The webOS nation is strong and growing. We will persevere, and on the back end of these trials we will emerge with a stronger and more vibrant community than ever.