Monday, August 22, 2011

The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated…kinda

One of the corporate butt coverers at HP, Jon Zilber, posted on the HP Palm blog that the planet was wrong.

WebOS isn’t dead. Its very much alive and kicking, just in some strange undead form and no one has been smart enough to see it.

He says “Far from burying webOS, our goal is to ensure the platform's evolution as a robust operating system for an increasingly mobile and connected world.

I’m kind of curious to see exactly how this is going to happen.

Let’s try to imagine the conversation.

HP: WebOS has a huge future. We’ll cut you an amazing licensing deal on it. You can develop phones and tablets using it and compete against Android and iOS.

Prospective Licensee: Didn’t you guys try that?

HP: Yes.

Prospective Licensee: And how did that work out for you?

HP: It was a great experience. That’s why we’re here talking to you. We want to share the opportunities with you specifically and the rest of the industry for anyone with the vision to see the possibilities.

Prospective Licensee: So if it was such a great experience why did you stop making phones and tablets? I mean with a sell-through rate of around 10% on the tablet I’m not seeing an advantage here.

HP: It’s based on strategic initiatives.

Prospective Licensee (very confused): Huh?

HP: Leo has seen the future and its software.

Prospective Licensee (even more confused): Okay? But didn’t he say not that long ago that hardware was important?

HP (ignoring comment): So for us to leverage his strategic decision to strategically reposition HP as a software vendor by making this key acquisition for $10 billion of a cloud offering vendor that has astounding upside potential we need to exit future non-core businesses now before they become a drag on future potential earnings.

Prospective Licensee: What?

HP: Look. Everyone knows software is going to drive the industry so we’ve gotten out of the business of building tablets and phones.

Prospective Licensee: And you want me to develop software for what, exactly using WebOS?

HP: Phones and Tablets.

Prospective Licensee: I don’t understand.

HP: That’s part of our strategy. If people can’t understand exactly what we’re doing with WebOS you’ll be able to deliver a market shattering product.

Prospective Licensee: But I want to know what I’m getting into before I sign on the bottom line.

HP: Why? We didn’t when we bought Palm, we were just reacting to Apple and Google. Look everyone wants smartphones. Just sign here and you’ll make a fortune.

Prospective Licensee: I don’t think so.

HP: Trust us. We’ve got your back.

So WebOS is left to forever wander the Earth until someone finally decides that a wooden stake needs to be driven into its undead heart. I just don’t think anyone involved with HP’s Palm division will do it because it’ll be too detrimental to their career.

Better to spin a colossal screw up into a positive while polishing your CV while HP shareholders grab their ankles again.

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