I was going to write a big post on HP and WebOS. I was working away on a ‘What now for WebOS?’ post … until I caught the news that this, too, was dead. Here’s PC World’s overview: HP’s WebOS crashes under Apple, Android Pressure.
Goodness me it’s been quite a week for big movements.
Robert Scoble neatly summed up HP’s news thus:
Windows 8 wins
Oh, HP, kills TouchPad after only a month in market
The third party developers are in charge.
No apps, no sales.
I think this is the (very costly) new reality for manufacturers.
Scoble also points out something I think we’ve known for quite sometime — developers are only thinking about 3-4 platforms, period. That’s it. No more. He quotes one leading developer thus:
Developers like him keep telling me “Apple is first in my mind, Google is second, and I don’t have time for #3, but if I do, looks like Microsoft has the best future.”
For Microsoft read Nokia. Nokia’s made themselves business critical to Microsoft’s success in the mobile ecosystem. Although Scoble is no doubt operating under a highly polarised Silicon Valley viewpoint, it’s a viewpoint that’s increasingly becoming de facto across the Western world. Once America got control of the mobile ecosystem, it was game-over for anyone else not willing or capable of innovating at the same pace.
The legions of Symbian fanatics who still passionately hate Nokia’s Stephen Elop may come to see a different point of view when Nokia is growing firmly under Windows.
But dear me, what about HP? What a way to screw it up, gents.
I really did buy the HP koolaid. I was hoping for a bit of a fight from them. I was hoping for some decent corporate venturing to challenge the status quo. There’s no doubting that WebOS
is was phenomenally nice. I did enjoy playing with the tablet back in Barcelona. Back in March I remember meeting the enormously charasmatic Richard Kerris, who headed up WebOS developer relations, who explained that HP was aiming to have 100 million WebOS devices in the market by the end of 2011 (mostly through integrating it into printers and also adding support for the desktop).
Here’s what I commented back then:
A hundred million devices? That’s easily achievable if you assume some nice healthy Palm device sales and you include most of the company’s consumer desktop/laptop and printer sales.
I bought the concept, though. I was sitting back and waiting though. Unfortunately it seems everyone else — especially the developers — were doing the same thing.
It just goes to show that one quarter can change everything. It was only a few months ago I was in San Diego watching HP’s Jon Rubenstein absolutely slate Nokia on stage. Now HP is no more as far as we’re all concerned. Apart from the odd printer and scanner (and of course, data centres), they’re largely irrelevant to the mobile world now.
I’m frankly embarrassed.
I’m embarrassed that a company with revenues of one hundred and twenty-six BILLION dollars (thanks, Wikipedia) couldn’t hack it in the consumer mobile space. It would be laughable if the sad reality wasn’t so sobering. Come on, seriously? Is it really that difficult to compete? Or did you ham-string everything from the start with the usual corporate shenanigans?
The new reality of apps-apps-apps is confirmed once more with HP’s demise in mobile.
WebOS isn’t completely dead though. Not completely. It looks somebody else might be able to license WebOS in future. Don’t hold your breath.
Sidenote: What about RIM?
This is the real issue that we’re all going to need to deal with shortly. It’s one that’s been bugging me for quite a while. I have been largely silent as I’ve been observing the market. I’m such a huge fan of the devices — their latest BlackBerry Bold 9900 is a masterpiece of messaging joy. I worry that they won’t be able to escape the Scobleist Reality of apps, apps, apps. How many times do you need folk to say, “RIM is dead,” before it starts to become reality? Thankfully RIM is not dead. They’re number-one in a gazillion markets — they practically own Latin America’s smartphone market. They still continue to shift a massive amount of product. People are still buying their phones. We’ll need some good leadership from RIM over the next 3-4 quarters.