[sc:mobile-category ]So HP finally, kind of, sort of, made the fate of WebOS known last week and then went on to talk about some more details.
First off, open sourcing the OS is fine, but open source isn’t a magic bullet. Real people have to be behind it and it sounds like from the interview that HP will continue to commit resources to the project. That’s a good sign.
An even better sign that HP is really committed to the future of WebOS is that they intend to make more hardware for it. The TouchPad hardware was not the crowning achievement in tablets that WebOS deserved, nor was WebOS perfect.
Will we see more relevant hardware come from HP to support WebOS next year? We can only hope that they don’t forget what was good in the hardware (ok, not much, but TouchStone is VERY cool and the 4:3 display format seems right).
What would this new hardware look like if I were designing it?
- Less rounded, more angular
- Front and rear facing cameras, significantly better than the webcam that came with the Touchpad
- Thinner and lighter
- Mat finish on the back, the glossy finish on the Touchpad is just a dirt magnet
- Mat finish on the display, too much reflection
- Use standard USB voltages for charging
- Metal body instead of plastic
HP certainly has the engineering skills to make a world-class piece of hardware for WebOS to run on and it will be interesting to see what they learned from the TouchPad.
From an OS side, there’s not much to do, 3.0.4 is a better OS than what shipped with the TouchPad:
- Bing and Live integration
- Some kind of visual feedback when the OS is busy
- Password management in the web browser
I’m looking forward to the first open source release of WebOS, I expect to see some community versions with features that HP would never have implemented as they don’t make sense from a big business perspective.
Will WebOS flourish with other hardware vendors? I can see some of the small tablet companies picking it up as an option so they are not tied to only android devices, but I doubt any of the big players will do much with it.
It still has the big disadvantage of its app store and I don’t think we’ll ever see another phone with it, that looks to be coming down to a three-horse race between Android, iOS and Windows Phone (yes I know Blackberry is in there too, but with the announcement this week that OS 10 is delayed for 6 months or more, it looks like they may have lost the smartphone wars without ever firing a single shot).
I’m hopeful that WebOS will continue, it’s a fine OS that deserves better treatment than HP has given it so far.