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Tuesday, 23 August 2011 11:17

HP says webOS is far from dead

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Days after giant PC maker Hewlett-Packard announced it would discontinue its device business supported by the webOS operating system, senior vice president Stephen DeWitt declared HP would continue to develop and evolve the troubled operating system, and he promised continued support for the defunct webOS based touchpad.

Despite having failed to find a suitable market for webOS, DeWitt maintained the operating system was far from being dead. He said HP was working on alternative strategies to evolve and improve webOS. 'The webOS is not dead,' DeWitt told Bloomberg. 'We're going to continue to evolve it, update and support it. We stand by it.'

With regard to TouchPad customers, who have seen the portable device being pulled out of sales in less than two months, DeWitt promised HP would take care of each purchased tablet and would consider compensation. 'We're going to obviously take care of every TouchPad customer,' he said.

One of the possible options to restore a commercial position for webOS may be looking beyond consumers markets. DeWitt told Bloomberg that webOS could serve companies in finance and retail.'The whole world isn't just about tablets and phones,' DeWitt said. 'There are going to be appliances of so many different sizes and shapes in the future that are going to require a human interface for data.'

If smartphones and tablets are to be left behind by HP, then analysts speculate the embedded web market may offer new chances for webOS to flourish, as a large number of devices require a cloud-oriented OS; a move, which could compliment HP's cloud services. DeWitt stated the choice of hitting a market of no-phone devices was a sign of flexibility and expanded interests that would differentiate Hewlett-Packard from Apple.'If you want to jump into the Apple ecosystem and be one of the gazillion in there and live by Apple's rules, so be it,' DeWitt told Bloomberg. 'Our strategy is to be more open, to be a platform that has extensibility to other environments - not the closed architecture.'

Moreover, earlier this year HP did not exclude the possibility of licensing webOS to other manufacturers. In June, Samsung disclosed an interest in running HP's webOS on its smartphones. But in this uncertain scenario, DeWitt said he could not rule out the possibility for webOS to be sold. Dell, HTC, Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics may be interested in seizing webOS and its patents.

Initially developed in 2009, webOS became HP's operating system when the company acquired pioneer manufacturer Palm Inc. for $US1.2 billion in 2010. webOS was then deployed to run HP's tablets and smartphones, in a bid to challenge Microsoft's Windows, Apple's iOS and Google's Android. Over a year after Palm's acquisition, HP released the webOS-based TouchPad tablet, which was meant to compete with Apple's iPad in the tablets market. However, a deadly mix of criticism from reviewers and limited sales killed the TouchPad less than two months after its launch in July 2011.

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