Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mobile Users Benefit If HP Licenses Web OS; Android And Windows Phone Could Take Big Hit

HP is talks with interested parties in licensing Web OS for their own use.  I wonder why HP would risk this move and who stands most to lose should this turn into a success.

First, when Palm introduced the Pre running the very first version of Web OS, a lot of people including myself though that Palm is back.  Then it ran up against the iPhone 3GS and a surging Android platform and that was pretty much all she wrote.  Now under new management, Web OS is getting another go with HP's deep pocket and a lot of programming and engineering power. 

I thought it was a brilliant buy.  HP would effectively create an alternative to Apple's iOS and iTunes ecosystem with a very impressive looking mobile OS.  As an Apple and mobile fan, you have to like what was coming from HP.  Printers, smartphones, tablets, and even PC would be running Web OS.  

So, even if HP manages to make Web OS a minor success, who stands to lose?  Android quickly comes to mind because of its large market share and the growing discontent with fragmentation among developers and concerns about malware.  HP will likely try to park itself just in the middle to claim some sense of openness while maintaining a certain level of control over Web OS and hardware developments at any third party companies.

HP's Web OS offerings are likely a plus for those Android users who like a higher degree of quality but are not willing to accept Apple's terms and control practices.  Web OS's stronger social integration will probably be very enticing for those who likes to stay connected to their friends as much as possible.

Microsoft's Windows Phone platform will likely suffer as a result.  It only commands 1% of the market and, yes, you can go down even further.  

As for Apple, it is likely to feel minimal impact in the immediate term.  If anything, increased competition from HP is something iPhone users welcome.   

Of course, we don't know the terms of HP's Web OS licensing terms yet.  That alone will determine just how strong of a competitor HP's mobile platform will be.  Do it right and we can see Android and WP take a big hit sooner rather than later.

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