Meg Whitman And The WebOS No Brainer
Well, maybe it wasn’t a no-brainer for Jon Rubenstein or Leo Apotheker, but I would love to have been in the boardroom the day the decision was made to open-source Web OS. Granted, things have changed a little bit since 2010. Android has become the most popular piece of software in the world, with 200 million activations worldwide and over 500k activations per day. It’s Android Market, in stark contrast to HP’s App Catalog, just reached the 10 billion mark for downloads. Web OS has shared in none of those success, unable to compete with RIM in all cases.
So what happened that day? Their investors wanted answers. The fate of Web OS has been up in the air since the Touchpad’s untimely demise and subsequent fire sale. It must have been as if the answer was hiding in plain sight. Why is Android so successful if Web OS is really so good? Android is open source and sees unbelievable success. Its impact on the world dwarfs that of any other operating system other than Linux itself. I think that Meg Whitman took a quick look at the past. As CEO of eBay, she was behind the purchase of Skype for $4.1B. Yeah, Skype. That’s 3.5 times the amount the Palm sold for last year ($1.2B). Later, they unloaded it for a mere $2.75B. It’s doubtful that she wants to repeat a failure like that, so in a desperate effort decided to open source Web OS. Hell, Google can do it, why not HP?
I don’t think they expect Web OS to take the world by storm, and if Ice Cream Sandwich is any indication of what Palm’s previous talent is capable of, they won’t. This at least gives them the opportunity to use the investment. To see what other manufacturers are capable of and gauge their interest.
Let’s just hope we never see a Web OS device running Sense or Touchwiz.