A Sad Day for webOS Lovers Everywhere…

I’m sure by now many of you are aware of the bombshell that HP dropped yesterday, announcing to the world that webOS devices are no longer a part of their business model:

“In addition, HP reported that it plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones. HP will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward.

For many of us, webOS represents one of the best mobile operating systems ever created–as well as a cautionary tale of what happens when great small companies (Palm) are acquired by larger companies (HP) that aren’t exactly sure what to do with them. Or were they? As the tech world mourns the loss of the TouchPad, Veer, and never-released-in-the-US Pre 3, it should be noted that webOS is not officially dead; in fact, HP has gone out of its way to say that they’re still looking for opportunities to leverage Palm’s acquired IP…

Though we’ve heard that webOS could end up in anything from in-car entertainment systems to printers, at its core it’s a brilliant mobile operating system that deserves better than this–and there’s no doubt that it will eventually find a home. But was this HP’s plan from the beginning–to do some limited hardware releases, only to end up licensing out the software to other hardware vendors? We’ve heard as recently as last month that HP would be “open” to other hardware suitors, and perhaps Jon Rubenstein’s stepping aside should have been another clue that HP-branded webOS devices were not in it for the long haul. Funny thing is, this still could have a happy ending…

With Google’s recent (proposed) acquisition of Motorola, companies that have been free agents over the past several years may be forced to make some hard decisions. While Apple used to be one of 2 players (RIM being the other) making their own hardware to go with their software, Google adding Motorola now means that the 2 most powerful companies in the mobile market are now in the enviable position of not needing hardware partners. That’s not to say that other companies are going to stop making Android devices; it simply means that Google may not “need” them to–and that changes things a bit. So where does this leave Samsung Mobile and HTC, 2 of the best mobile device makers on the planet? Available. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking on my part, but the idea of Samsung and HTC hardware running webOS software is more than just a bit intriguing; and with major players forming alliances we didn’t see coming, perhaps webOS may end up finding a good home after all–god knows it deserves it.

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