HP to release new webOS hardware, including tablets

A little earlier, we reported that HP had finally made a decision over the future of its webOS platform, by deciding to release the troubled mobile operating system under an open source licence. The world of technology seems somewhat divided over what this means for the future of webOS, with some suggesting this is just the prolonging of its long, slow death, while others believe this will give it the new lease of life that it deserves.

While discussion continues among tech pundits and across the blogosphere, many had understandably assumed that HP’s decision meant it was effectively washing its hands of webOS, so that it could focus on building a stronger consolidated portfolio of products. HP stated that it would remain a ‘participant’ in the webOS programme, but few people seriously believed that this meant anything other than a curatorial role.

So it certainly raised a few eyebrows when HP’s CEO, Meg Whitman, confirmed to The Verge today that HP remains committed to building new hardware with webOS on board.


HP Chief Executive Officer, Meg Whitman

When asked about this, Whitman’s response was unambiguous: “We will use webOS in new hardware, but it’s just going to take us a little longer to reorganise the team in a quite different direction than we’ve been taking it in the past”, a reference to Palm’s original intention to keep webOS as a closed ecosystem. HP will be retaining an in-house team dedicated to webOS products and programme management, no doubt including some who transferred to HP with the Palm acquisition, and this team will need to be restructured to reflect the new open-source approach being taken.

Whitman was asked to elaborate on what kind of hardware HP will be developing with webOS, replying: “In the near term, what I would imagine – and this could change, in full disclosure – is, I would think, tablets. I do not believe we will be in the smartphone business again.” Asked to reconfirm that tablets are very much part of the plan for webOS, she replied, “Yes.” HP will also use webOS software for its next-generation printers. 

It looks like HP is committed to webOS in a way that it perhaps wasn’t under the leadership of its previous CEO, Leo Apotheker. Whitman not only confirmed that HP would be investing new resources in leading development of webOS under its new open-source auspices, but also that the company is looking longer term, with a timeframe of at least four years to build the project up to a level where its success can be reliably judged. As Whitman herself said: “It’s not just something you say ‘if it’s not perfect in a year, we’re out of here’.

Will this be the beginning of an exciting new chapter in webOS history? Or will HP manage to make a mess of it again? Was HP right to make webOS open-source... or should they have just killed it off entirely? Have your say on all this in the Neowin Forums.

Images via HP and Exame.com

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15 Comments

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a goodwill gesture to calm the crazy, brain-dead and me-too consumer mobs, i'm sure. it's no going to do much good to hp's bottom line.

Too late. I finally replaced my HP scanner and laser printer with Canon. Now, my home and business is "HP free." The games they played with their drivers drove me away. I don't plan to go through that mess again.

I bet this never happens. Pure PR talk and would be a complete waste of time. WebOS does not have a chance at competing at this point. If the software was ready then maybe but the software is terrible. Full of bugs and very slow.

That's a very encouraging news. However, smartphones and tablets go together. So I hope HP changes that.

And how does HP plans on competing with Microsoft?

And since they will also be making Windows 8 slates, how can a company sell two products competing internally with each other.

This is going to be confusing.

FMH said,
And how does HP plans on competing with Microsoft?

They could sell a WebOS tablet for $100 less than a Win8 tablet just because of licensing. And my bet is that WebOS will require more modest spec to run than a Win8 tablet. So all that could lead to WebOS tablet costing much less than Microsoft one...


Windows PC license costs $25 and Windows Phone license costs $15, so the difference may not be of much significance.

(The source of the cost, though not confirmed by Microsoft, comes from inside industry sources.)

FMH said,
That's a very encouraging news. However, smartphones and tablets go together. So I hope HP changes that.

And how does HP plans on competing with Microsoft?

And since they will also be making Windows 8 slates, how can a company sell two products competing internally with each other.

This is going to be confusing.

Only as confusing as HTC and Samsung making win phone 7 and android phones

mulligan2k said,

Only as confusing as HTC and Samsung making win phone 7 and android phones

But HTC and Samsung don't own any of these operating systems.
They themselves aren't making a product that will combat with the product, that they are help selling.

But HP is.

It's almost like Apple manufacturing Mac laptops, and on the other side selling Windows laptop.

Juhu! If they manage to get a loyal community that ports webOS onto Android devices I'm sure as hell gonna get one. I've always loved the design of webOS

tuneslover said,
Not a good decision. They should stick to Windows 8..

Why? WebOS is a beautiful piece of software!

Yes, Windows 8 on tablets will be great, but I'm still not convinced the Metro UI that MS is working on is the way to go.

With iOS and Android ruling various smartphone OS markets across the globe, this announcement about WebOS is important. It will help keep those two big gorillas innovative and competitive.