Talking tech since 2003

For what seems like forever now, we have seen an ongoing war between rival technology companies Apple and Google, both of whom have managed to tap into the constantly growing mobile industry with their feature-rich operating systems; iOS and Android.  With both companies being huge in the public eye, many have taken up one platform or the other, often times citing features or traits that they claim makes their platform superior to the others.  While many iOS users are quick to cite the large selection of mobile applications available for Apple’s mobile operating system, many Android users are just as quick to point out that Google’s flagship operating system is open source and can be used on a wide array of devices.

While these are fair points, the fact of the matter is that in more recent months Google has taken a number of steps to lock down how end-users and hardware manufactures are able to go about using the operating system.  In all honesty, the changes that Google has imposed – inclusive of delaying the release of source code to the general public and only allowing pre-release versions of the OS to be run on emulators instead of on actual devices – don’t affect that many consumers.  However, even though run of the mill end users likely have little care about this change, Google’s decision to impose stricter restrictions has caused them to step on the toes of one very important group; hardware manufactures.

You see, just a few months back OEM’s more or less had free reign over what they could do with Android.  Now they’re more restricted than ever.  As you can imagine, this has managed to tick off manufactures quite a bit, and many are now wondering if these manufactures will decide to look at different mobile operating systems that they can use with a bit more freedom.  Naturally, BlackBerry OS and Apple’s iOS are proprietary operating systems that belong to respective hardware manufacturers that cannot be used on third-party devices, and it’s extremely unlikely that either company would even hear the idea of licensing out their operating systems.  But there is one other option.  Sure, it’s not open source and it hasn’t been licensed out yet (there’s not even evidence to suggest that the company wants to license it out), but HP has a real promising gem on their hands.  WebOS.

In a recent eWeek article, Trip Chowdry of the firm Global Equities Research was put on the record as saying that “as things stand today, Android has probably peaked, and probably will start showing slow and gradual decline.”

With this in mind, as it stands now a loss of Android traction on the mobile market would shift attention and ultimately sales to devices like the RIM BlackBerry line and of course Apple’s legendary iPhone.  But as you would imagine this would be absolutely horrible for the manufactures that are currently riding high and mighty on the Android horse.  Do you think they would be willing to watch their business decline and do absolutely nothing about it?  I sure don’t.

That said, WebOS could be a viable alternative.  It’s already out there, people have already hear of it, it’s in active development, and when all is said and done it would be much easier for OEM’s to adapt WebOS into their devices than it would be for them to start from the ground up with their own operating systems.  After all, if developing ones own mobile operating system in-house was that easy all of the major players would have done it a long time ago.

However, as good as this may all sound, there is one thing standing in the way of WebOS being mass-marketed on third-party handsets.  HP simply hasn’t gotten the ball rolling.  Now, that’s not to say that they’re not interested or wouldn’t consider the idea, but as of right now there doesn’t even appear to be discussions about the subject.

I, for one, think that HP should at very least consider the idea.  If the company could get enough hardware manufactures on board they could easily become a dominant player in the mobile industry.  WebOS would likely adopt rather quickly, which would in turn bring a wave of developers who would spew out applications for the OS.  Who would directly benefit?  HP.  Wider adoption, simply put, means more income from licensing royalties.

When it all comes down to it this whole concept depends on both HP and third-party manufacturers getting on-board and teaming up with one-another.  Because HP would be working with companies that we would otherwise see as their competition, I’m sure such a venture wouldn’t be without its own bumps in the road.  But, I think it would be truly worth it.

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