Should we just let webOS die?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: September 22, 2011

It isn’t just webOS’ future that’s in shambles. As we’ve recently heard, it’s all of HP that’s looking a little haggard at this point. With talk that the company’s current CEO, Leo Apotheker, is on the way out, it isn’t looking good for the company at all. (Unless, of course, you’re someone who thinks Apotheker’s replacement is a good thing.) After the announcement that HP would be ending hardware support for webOS, and the subsequent fire sale of the HP TouchPad, the future of webOS was put on a pedestal. We’ve been talking about the state of webOS for a long time, especially considering it has such a big cult following, but after huge news like that, obviously webOS jumped into the lime light. But, now that the furor has died down slightly, should we start thinking about actually letting webOS die?

The truth is, while webOS does indeed have a following, the mobile OS hasn’t seen its time in the spotlight in quite some time. Even with the announcement of the HP TouchPad, HP Veer and HP Pre3, people seemed to be more somber about the whole thing. We hadn’t been blown away by webOS probably since its launch, and it didn’t look like HP was ready to surprise us anytime soon, either. And now, well, even with HP hinting that webOS development isn’t dead after all, I don’t think anyone is really expecting any surprises from HP.

Things could change with Apotheker’s removal, I imagine. It’s been no secret that the man wasn’t a fan of the Palm acquisition, and he had always made it pretty clear that HP wasn’t in the smartphone business, even after nabbing webOS. So, while smartphones may be a dead end for HP, the rest of us keep wishing that something will change. That, somehow, webOS will miraculously pop back into existence, and we can start talking about all the great new smartphones that are coming down the pipe.

But within those same conversations was talk about HP licensing out webOS to another manufacturer. There were options, and there still are options. Samsung’s name was one of the first to pop up, but then the company quickly dropped out of that race. And now that HTC is talking about purchasing their own OS, there’s that flicker all over again. But, while licensing is great and it would indeed breathe a breath of fresh air into the mobile OS (more than likely), it just makes it seem that webOS is even more fragile than it probably really is. webOS doesn’t have a home, at this point, and support is practically non-existent. Sending it into another home, especially one that has so many other kids (Android and Windows Phone), may see it more neglected than anything else.

So maybe we just let webOS die? Maybe we take this as a sign that no matter how great a mobile platform is, it has to be up to the manufacturer behind that platform to sell it, to make it worthwhile, and to support it. Without that support, no matter how great it is or how big the following may be, it will die. Companies like Apple, HTC, Research In Motion and Samsung know this very well. Specifically, Samsung who has bada OS, their proprietary OS that doesn’t have a huge fan base or time in the spotlight. But, the company is still there, supporting it. Yes, HP should have made the effort to do the same for webOS, but they didn’t, and now it’s gone. Maybe it’s time for the rest of us to let it go, too.

It will be tough to really watch webOS fade out. But, let’s face it, as quickly as the market moves, it wouldn’t be long before we completely forgot about it. It would probably only ever be brought up in comparison articles, or referenced when HP makes another move down the line. webOS needs hardware to match the software, but that probably won’t happen. So let’s just drop the curtain on the OS, call it a day, and move on. It’s regrettable what happened, but it did, and now we’ve got to accept that webOS is gone and never coming back.

Or will it?

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