updated 03:40 pm EDT, Wed June 1, 2011
HP may license webOS to other PC builders
HP chief Leo Apotheker in his guest appearance at the D9 expo hinted that his company might license webOS in the future. Even though all initial webOS devices in the post-takeover era were HP-made, the CEO said it was "not correct to believe" that the platform would be limited just to HP hardware. He wouldn't say to which companies or when, but when asked about HTC said he "would entertain" the idea if it came up.
Such a move could radically alter HP's position in the market and make it a more direct competitor to Microsoft. The Windows developer has mostly left Apple, RIM, and other platform developers alone when their platforms are integrated, but it has been aggressive whenever a competitor arrives that follows the licensing model. Microsoft has most recently been engaging in a shakedown campaign against Android trying to artificially hike the price of Google's OS and could theoretically find pretext to target webOS as well.
Microsoft was still a good partner, he said, and he added that he didn't expect Windows to "fade into irrelevance."
On device types, Apotheker also suggested that webOS might be good for TVs and hinted that work might even be underway. "We are trying to see if we could make some things happen," he said. So far, only Apple and Google of the major OS developers have tried making dedicated TV operating systems and have had limited success, with Apple TV boxes having a dominant share relative to Google TV.
Tablets were an equal focus with the imminent launch of the TouchPad. He claimed to have learned from the lesson of the BlackBerry PlayBook and wouldn't rush his tablet into market just to say it had a competitor on the market. Most expect it to ship in mid-June but with a full suite of apps intact, including native e-mail and others still not present on the PlayBook.
"The one lesson I have learned from this, and I'm driving my engineers crazy with this, is that we will not release a product that isn't perfect," he said.