Future Success of HP's WebOS Remains Largely Uncertain

Analysts Have Mixed Opinions About the Future of WebOS

by Anton Shilov
12/16/2011 | 03:46 AM

The future of Hewlett-Packards webOS remains largely uncertain as different analysts have different opinion on the matter. If some claims that the webOS platform is dead, then other believe that it can be used for many new devices, not only tablets, but for other consumer electronics as well.


Many have concerns about closed Apple iOS eco-system, security of Google Android as well as efficiency of Windows 8 operating system on tablets. Technology Business Research believes that webOS could become a player in the mobile device landscape if neither Microsoft Windows 8 nor Google Android offers a clear winner for commercial tablets. TBR believes enterprise clients have a bias toward working with HP over consumer?oriented organizations, such as Apple and Google.

In TBR's view by releasing webOS to the community, HP can leverage the community's creativity, as third parties will be given the tools to customize and extend webOS, potentially creating a viable competitor. While HP will not need to invest much of its own resources into the platform, it benefits if the platform evolves and is adopted more or less widely. HP is unlikely to face competition in webOS from major vendors, and HP has a chance to reap significant rewards with minimal risk.

Meanwhile, according to International Data Corp., despite HP's announcement last week that it would contribute webOS to the open source community, the market tracking firm does not believe the operating system will reappear in the media tablet market in any meaningful way going forward.

But TBR argues that webOS is built on a scalable operating environment that is well suited for multiple form factors. As a result, webOS could quickly penetrate the market for smart TVs; webOS may also be well suited for automobiles, for which its web app functionality can be stripped down into a minimalist user interface; besides, webOS is generally positioned to capitalize on touch?screen varieties. 

Hewlett-Packard officially said that it would release a new breed of tablets based on webOS operating system in 2013. While there are a number of industrial examples when multiple companies could develop a viable open-source operating system (Android is the best example), at present HP simply has no partners to co-develop webOS and without significant investment from HP, the operating system will quickly lose its competitive position against platforms like Apple iOS, Google Android or Microsoft Windows. Moreover, without smartphones running webOS, the platform