HP plans to expand its webOS platform to cars and household appliances, but faces an uphill battle.
Hewlett-Packard would like
to extend the reach of its webOS platform to include operating systems on
devices like household appliances and automobiles, according to a report in the
Wall Street Journal.
at expanding the base and bringing to the webOS community an ecosystem that
inspires developers out there," Stephen DeWitt, in charge of webOS for HP,
told the paper, noting that there was considerable interest in the platform. He
declined to mention specific manufacturers or developers, however.
Some analysts are skeptical
about HP's plan to broaden webOS adoption through vehicles and appliances. They
note that many manufactures already have long-standing relationships with
operating systems integrated into their products.
HP may be arriving a little
late to that game, whether it be operating systems for airplanes or autos, said
Thilo Koslowski, an analyst at Gartner. "The automobile industry has no
interest in changing suppliers every year," Koslowski told the paper.
In June, Bloomberg reported that
HP was in discussions with Samsung over porting webOS onto the latter's
smartphones. That detail, which came from unnamed "people with knowledge of the
discussions," was unconfirmed by either company. HP has made no secret of its
intentions to port webOS onto other manufacturers' devices, with a March 9
Bloomberg report quoting CEO Leo Apotheker as saying the move could create a
In March 2011, HP announced
plans for a version of webOS by the end of 2011 to run within the Microsoft
Windows operating system, and to be installed on all HP desktop and notebook
computers in 2012. The platform uses multi-touch gestures to navigate on the
touch-screen, but does not natively include a virtual keyboard application as
the devices include slide-out keyboards. Users can obtain virtual keyboards
HP inherited webOS when it
purchased Palm for $1.2 billion in 2010. While Palm had limited use of the
operating system to its smartphones, HP's intentions are much broader; the
company has designs on installing the OS on smartphones, tablets, laptops and
desktops. In theory, webOS would allow HP to create Apple-style synergy between
products in different categories. Unlike Apple, though, HP's aggressive moves
risk alienating a crucial partner-Microsoft.
Regardless, HP is having
enough trouble trying to get consumers to experience webOS on devices other
than smartphones, including its highly publicized tablet, the TouchPad. Despite
a recent price cut, reports are coming in that sales of the tablet-designed to
be a major competitor to Apple's iPad-are flagging.
"According to one source
who's seen internal HP reports," read an Aug. 16 piece by Arik Hesseldahl on
AllThingsD, "Best Buy has taken delivery of 270,000 TouchPads, and has so far
managed to sell only 25,000."
Meanwhile, a report from a
Taiwanese news agency suggests HP is also prepping a 7-inch tablet device that
could also run the company's webOS operating system, which also powers the
TouchPad. The publication reported an unnamed subcontractor for Inventec Corp.,
a contract manufacturer of PCs in Taiwan, saying HP had placed a large order
for tablet devices from Inventec.
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.