Thursday, August 18, 2011

One Down... and general Smartphone Update

The first major casualty of the smartphone wars has occurred, HPalm has just announced that they will "discontinue operations for webOS devices" while exploring "options to optimize the value of webOS software." Practically what this means is that HP built webOS devices are dead but webOS itself will live on, presumably through licensing schemes a la WP7 or perhaps via a more creative monetization scheme like that of Google's Android.

This announcement essentially confirms my previous criticisms of the webOS platform as articulated here and here, which (summarized) state that webOS is good software saddled with bad hardware and that HP drove off Palm's top talent in the acquisition crippling further development of the software. WebOS is no longer on par with iOS and Android as it once was and now WP7 has risen to become the third major player at the top of the smartphone food chain. I can't help but think that this is the beginning of the end for webOS, without a hardware partner and without the ability to continue developing the software at the same pace as Google, Apple and Microsoft there is now very little hope for webOS and HP's mobile dreams.

Now it could be argued that the real first casualty was Android maker Motorola Mobile which was purchased outright by Google for $12.5 Billion a few days ago but this is really not a casualty. Motorola Mobile had been roughly breaking even since spinning off from the Motorola mothership and the acquisition by Google was a move to bolster Google's arsenal of mobile patents to aid in the high tech legal wars. And there are legal wars...

I've slightly updated this image which was originally found here.