Hewlett Packard’s new CEO, Meg Whitman, made an appearance today in a conference directed at the company’s channel partners in Las Vegas. The company expressed many of its plans for the future, but there was a significant statement that caught our attention. Whitman spoke briefly about the idea of open-sourcing WebOS and managed to take a slight punch at Google.
For those who may have forgotten, HP quit the hardware manufacturing business last year. The company decided to redirect its focus to software in an effort to improve their situation. You probably remember seeing the HP Touchpad on sale for a mere $99 right after HP announced this. But let’s move on.
The open-source topic was very briefly covered. Whitman mentioned that it would take 2-5 years to get WebOS open-sourced, and that she believes another mobile OS is necessary for the industry. Her claim was that Apple is great close-sourced, and Google might be following the same steps (due to Motorola’s acquisition). Oh, and she also mentions that it is fragmented.
It’s hard to take such words seriously, reminiscent of the likes of RIM. It seems both CEOs really need to consider what Android is all about. HP and WebOS haven’t been very successful in the mobile industry, and open-sourcing WebOS might be the best move to make. And it should be done sooner.
There are many reasons why Android is such an attractive OS, but much of it revolves around its open nature. Manufacturers and developers can do wonders with the OS and modify it (for better or worse) to their liking. This is the main reason why Android has reached the top of the smartphone food chain.
Our little green robot is now everywhere. You can choose from a plethora of devices, UI overlays and features. A great part of Google’s success in the mobile industry is due to this very fact, and Google would take a big risk close-sourcing our favorite mobile operating system.
When the acquisition of Motorola was first announced, we were all worried. Many questions arose, mainly revolving about the future of Android and if Motorola would get any sort of preference or exclusivity. The Search Giant has made it very clear that Android will not be affected by this acquisition. This deal was meant to provide Google with a patent portfolio that would better protect them in legal disputes.
We are still a bit suspicious about such claims. Google might very well throw a curve ball at us. And Google has also mentioned that “they are not in just for the patents.” But it seems very unlikely that Google would risk its success to the extent of closing the whole OS.
Meg Whitman’s statement may very well have been meant to make HP’s partners feel more secure (which is something commonly done). We’ll just have to wait a few years and see how HP plays its game. By then, Android should be much, much bigger, so we suggest HP does things a bit quicker than expected.