HP's shot across Microsoft's bow: webOS to ship on all HP PCs

HP logoHP CEO Leo Apotheker has said that next year, all PCs sold by Hewlett-Packard will include webOS, the mobile operating system acquired by HP when it bought Palm last year. The operating system will ship alongside, not instead of, Microsoft's Windows.

That HP had ambitions for webOS on the desktop was revealed in February at the company's event introducing the TouchPad. What wasn't clear then was the scale of the plans. webOS will not be a niche offering, but will become enormously widespread.

The move is designed to give webOS greater reach and make it more attractive to developers. Apotheker wants to create a "massive platform," and wants to use more than just phones and tablets to achieve this. With HP the largest seller of PCs in the world, the move should mean that by the end of 2012 there will be tens of millions of systems with webOS installed. Since its release in June 2009, webOS has struggled to attract third-party developers. Its application store, the Palm App Catalog, has about 6,000 applications, a figure that places it far behind Apple's 350,000 iOS applications and Google's 250,000 Android applications. It even lags behind newcomer Windows Phone 7, which has over 9,000 applications already.

The exact form webOS will take on the desktop is still not known. It could be some kind of quick-booting "webOS mode" of the kind used to provide instant access to media playback in the past, but more likely is simply a runtime environment that allows webOS applications to be used on Windows. This would maximize the visibility of webOS software, without forcing users to choose between webOS and Windows.

The comments were made in an interview with Apotheker by Bloomberg. In the interview, he laid out his ambitions for the company he joined last November. In contrast to his predecessor Mark Hurd's cost-cutting strategies, he plans to boost R&D spending in an effort to foster an environment that encourages innovation. Key to this will be acquisition of software companies, to enable HP to provide a more rounded offering to its customers.

The move should also be considered something of a shot across Microsoft's bow. By providing webOS on PCs, HP is positioned to provide PC users something that Microsoft still cannot: a proper tablet experience. That's not much of an endorsement of either Redmond's current tablet solutions—or its strategy for the future.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: HP, webOS

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