Can HP Revive Palm’s webOS?

by Jeff Wiener on September 2, 2010

While many recognized the shrewdness of Hewlett-Packard’s (HP) move earlier this year to acquire the struggling mobile upstart Palm, few it seemed, truly recognized the brilliance of HP’s timing and business sense. Combined with earlier acquisitions, the purchase of Palm instantly gave HP the resources and technology to compete in the cutthroat mobile market, with the added bonus that HP scooped up its own innovative and intuitive mobile operating system with Palm’s popular, albeit under-utilized, webOS.

At the time I had lamented that it would probably take years for HP to successfully revitalize and incorporate Palm’s resources like the webOS, which is why I was so surprised today when I heard that HP is set to release a beta version of webOS v2.0 to a select number of application developers.

But even though the beta version adds several new features to the once semi-popular mobile OS, the fact remains that Palm has never had success selling devices running on webOS, which begs the question, will HP fair much better?

One of the key questions I had during the HP’s epic takeover of Palm was how would the computer giant utilize Palm’s resources to carve out its own niche in a very competitive mobile market? Sure HP had acquired almost all the tools it needed to become your one-stop tech and telecom solution, but would it know how to use them right? With this latest update for the webOS, I’m at least heartened by the fact that HP is still on track with its mobile plan.

To be fair, while there were many complaints regarding Palm’s lacklustre line-up of devices, its inability to properly use its resource like webOS, and its disappointing lack of quality usable mobile applications, the brilliance and usability of webOS was never really questioned.

The fact of the matter remains, however, that we have yet to see anything out of HP’s newly revamped mobile department that we can really judge; so its really difficult to tell what HP is actually going to do with Palm’s mobile OS, but if the specs of this newest update tell us anything, its that HP is looking to make a splash with its revamped OS.

With this latest update HP has offered application developers updated multitasking capabilities, revamped search tools, and various other synchronization and development goodies. Although it still employs the same familiar ‘cards’ system that was the centrepiece of all previous webOS iterations, even this feature has been updated and advanced to a point where it may be able to compete with the likes of Apple and company.

Further, HP has worked at correcting the disappointing lack of interesting apps for the webOS by allowing developers to build C or C++ plug-ins for apps built in other languages (HTML, JavaScript, or CSS). While this may mean little to those non-technophiles out there, the simple fact is, this feature will allow developers to import applications from other platforms, greatly improving the quality of apps available on Palm phones.

In the end, I doubt HP is releasing this new webOS as a way of bolstering sales for Palm’s struggling line-up, so in addition I would guess that a new line of webOS phones will most likely be available in the new year, and with that, HP will undoubtedly become a force to be reckoned with in the mobile market.

{ 2 trackbacks }

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August 13, 2012 at 12:28 pm
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