Why HP putting webOS on all computers is a great idea

Published: March 9, 2011

I can remember back to the first time I heard about webOS. Along with most other tech enthusiasts, my inner nerd was excited beyond containment. Then along came Android to rain on its parade – and pretty much every other platform out there, worldwide. Not long after, Palm took a dive and HP's buyout saved them from the crash at the bottom. Since then, they both (though the Palm brand is no longer in use) have been hard at work, trying to breath life back into the still young mobile platform.

Over the past year, things have grown rather stagnant for webOS. The released devices are lacking in luster and differentiation. Even in the upcoming batch, little has changed externally, while the innards and OS itself have experienced some pretty nice upgrades. Many were hoping for a candybar-style form factor from HP, but they appear to favor the vertical sliding QWERTY. Luckily, 2011 is just starting and there is still plenty of hope for those of us interested in webOS.

HP has a hectic schedule for webOS in 2011, and an even more rigorous schedule for the platform in 2012. It was first rumored that they would be releasing webOS not only on smartphones and tablets, but on netbooks, too. It now appears as if HP plans to equip every PC they release in the year 2012 with webOS. Buyers will have the option to dual-boot between Windows and the mobile OS.

I wasn't exactly sold on the idea of webOS as a standalone platform on a netbook. It's still in early stages and lacks a lot of utilities that many people need in a computer like a full web browser. Now that we know the plan is to have it installed side by side with a full OS, things have changed.

As a heavily gesture-based platform, webOS would be difficult to use without a touchscreen. Meaning, the normally cheap netbook might experience a hefty price increase due to the addition of a touchscreen. Considering we now know that netbooks aren't the only target hardware and PCs have been thrown into the mix as well, its safe to say that HP has implemented a different navigation method, likely by touchpad, mouse, and/or keyboard. This means it's merely an add-on without a large bump in price. Honestly, HP has a golden idea, if they can market it right.

At first, all of the current mobile platforms were intended for use with smartphones. Things have completely changed in the matter of a year. As these platforms mature, we're seeing their reach grow beyond use in just phones and tablets. The uses of Android, BlackBerry, and iOS are expanding to integration with our in-car lives. It's only a matter of time before these platforms make another leap. I'm glad to see HP recognizing that, and giving webOS the jump on other platforms.

I have always loved webOS, and I would love nothing more than to see it succeed. It's Achilles' heel right now is the lack of application support. Sitting at just over 6,000 applications, it's already fallen into the shadow of Windows Phone 7, which isn't quite 6 months old yet. As the OS matures and better hardware comes our way, I expect only good things to come from HP and webOS. Especially if they're slowly leaking it into the computer world. That's sure to entice at least a few developers, and every one counts.

More important than applications though, is HP's strong push for cloud storage and the tight-knit ecosystem between different webOS devices. Booting a PC up to webOS could be a much easier way to manage or share content on your phone or TouchPad. It all depends on how they utilize the platform on PCs and how they market it, but they've definitely got my attention just my mentioning it.

I've always been a fan of HP computers, and the ability to dual-boot between Windows and webOS would be a priceless selling point for many. Would you be more prone to buy a computer with the ability to dual-boot to webOS? Or do you think it would be a useless novelty?

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