Should Samsung customize webOS?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| June 29, 2011

One of the main draws to Google’s mobile operating system, Android, is its level of customization. It’s no secret that the manufacturers out there do their best to bring Android on a whole new level with each new high-end device, featuring the latest software (hopefully) and plenty of alterations to the user interface to make them interesting, especially when compared to the competition. For HTC and Samsung, their custom and proprietary user interfaces are some of the most popular, leading them to some of the highest sales of Android devices to date. If a new report pans out, then it looks like Samsung is going to have the ability to start tweaking another mobile OS here in the future, called webOS.

When Palm launched webOS, the praise was well received. But through the years that the mobile OS has been available, there have been plenty of people waiting to get their hands on new hardware. Unfortunately, even after HP acquired Palm, we’ve got the Pre 3 and Veer, both of which take plenty of aesthetic cues from their predecessors. So, if HP won’t provide “new” hardware, then perhaps it would be wise to let other manufacturers dabble in a little webOS goodness.

That looks to be exactly what’s happening, according to a new report. HP’s CEO Leo Apotheker has said in the past that HP was in talks with various companies to license webOS to their hardware. We are now hearing that those talks are still on-going, and Samsung’s name was thrown in there as one of the potential companies. Samsung is no stranger to utilizing multiple operating systems to further their presence in the mobile market. The company is not only strong in the Android world, but their presence in the Windows Phone market is notable as well. So for Samsung to start using webOS isn’t a surprise, but it could potentially be a dream come true for a lot of folks.

Samsung has begun to make hardware a focus of their handsets in the recent years. We’ve seen a constant rise in the statistics for their handsets, especially when it comes to the high-end devices. As the picture above suggests, seeing webOS on a Samsung Galaxy S II-like device, with all of the specifications thrown in there, would be drool worthy. Especially with the latest version of webOS tucked inside, the mobile OS would fly along at a quick pace, and multitasking on the device would be a breeze. webOS is a mobile OS that’s perfect for a device like the Galaxy S II or any other handset like it – and people want differentiation in their devices.

But the big question is: will Samsung be allowed to customize webOS at all? If the company does indeed bring webOS under its umbrella, and we start seeing Galaxy S II-like devices promoting the mobile OS from HP, will we see customized user interfaces, too? The proprietary UI that’s pasted over Android is called TouchWiz UI, and it would be very interesting to see that same UI attached to webOS. It would be interesting to see how well the UI, let alone any in-depth customizations to the OS from Samsung play with the inherent layout of webOS and its card-based system. Could TouchWiz UI even be used effectively?

If you’ve used webOS, and if you’ve taken a look at the jailbreaking scene, then you know that webOS can indeed be themed. But the level of customization that TouchWiz UI could bring to the table would be entirely different for webOS and it could indeed breathe a breath of new life into the mobile OS. Specifically, it wouldn’t be necessary to jailbreak the device to have access to customizations, and that would mean more general customers will be interested in taking a look at it.

If Samsung pulls the trigger on using webOS and we see devices in early 2012, it will be exciting to see what high-end hardware gets put together with the high-end software. Whatever new version(s) of webOS come out in that time will just make the whole deal that much sweeter. But what do you think of the prospect of Samsung getting to use webOS? Should they do it? Should they customize webOS if they are allowed to? Or should they leave it alone? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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