By now you’ve probably heard that HP is taking pre-orders for the HP TouchPad – their iPad competitor with prices to match. What’s been shocking to me, is that people seem generally excited about this. I mean, when I look at WebOS I see a dying OS. And that has nothing to do with the OS itself. It has to do with the track record of failing to get any traction of any significance whatsoever, and yet they continue to plow forward. But what this all leads to is that maybe it’s not just the WebOS fans that are delusional, but if they are, am I, as a Windows Phone user, in the same boat? 

Simply put, WebOS is somewhere in the low single digits of mobile OS share (somewhere in the 2-4% range depending on who you ask). OK nothing great but they have new products coming out and compare them to what Microsoft is putting on the table. HP’s WebOS is about to ship an optimized tablet (I’m not putting Windows 7 on a tablet in the same category). Microsoft is somewhere between 6-12 months away from this (either Windows 7 on ARM/optimized or Windows 8 on ARM). WebOS already has HTML5 and Flash in their browser. HP syncs your devices so your phone and tablet are in sync and you can receive a text and reply from your tablet for example. In fact, starting next year all of HP’s PCs that they ship will include WebOS so they’ll have full porting of mobile apps on your PC before the company that makes the PC OS itself. And it seems like they’ll have a music cloud service first. But I think a lot of you will agree that none of this matters. There’s simply no traction for WebOS. If there is buzz it must be limited because they’re talking about selling a tablet at the same price point as the leading tablets (iPad and Android alike) yet it’s a relatively unknown OS with limited software and the phone it syncs with isn’t available yet. HP is consistently slow to the market and it doesn’t seem like the product matters much at this point. They routinely fail to get mindshare and that is showing in market share and I don’t think anyone really thinks that this is going to miraculously change.

But what does this say about Windows Phones? I mean, sure it’s Microsoft and despite some weakening in the PC market sales aren’t not stopping any time soon. See, here’s the odd thing for me – I can pit WebOS to WP7, conclude that WebOS is likely the more polished and advanced OS, declare WebOS dead on arrival and yet continue to stand behind Microsoft’s offering even though it’s got a ways to go and I’m perfectly OK with that.

I’m clearly brainwashed – there I said it. But I think MS has a few huge tricks up its sleeve. One is developers, and say what you want but the lure of write once three screens that Windows 8 delivers (along with Xbox) is pretty significant and the Windows Phone Marketplace is actually holding itself pretty well and from all indications it will only pick up steam as MS provides greater APIs and access with Mango and of course that unified Marketplace of Win8. The other is what Windows 8 represents and it’s pretty clear that Microsoft is finally taking consumers seriously with a hugely optimized OS that will have social networking, cloud syncing and we can expect a lot tighter phone integration and that’s one year off. That’s a long year but it’s also a year that Nokia will be jumping into and providing a shit-ton of things for Microsoft from a hardware partner to top tier mapping and a global sales presence.

There’s more to sales than just specs. WebOS has no mojo and I’m not sure what it’s going to take for them to get it, but they don’t either. Microsoft, on the other hand, seems to finally be firing on all cylinders as you can see from their aggressive Skype acquisition, revamping of Bing to provide for visual and audible search and the brilliance that is Kinect – not just for Xbox but the PC SDK and it still has lot of room for growth.

Somewhere deep inside I fear that I’m as delusional as WebOS fanbois but I’m pretty comfortable with my level of delusion. So Microsoft, don’t screw me – make me seem like one of those brilliant prophets and not a lemming.

5 COMMENTS

  1. The two biggest problems with WebOS are HP and the fact that it has no developer support or interest. If you think Microsoft moves slow, then check out HP. But at the end of the day, Microsoft is a software developer. HP is not, nor have they ever been. They don’t know anything about software. The second problem is developers have shown no interest in developing for the platform. That’s a death knell. WP7 has already blown past WebOS is developer support and apps. I’m also not sure if the can push WebOS with the resources, money, and reach that Microsoft can push WP7. HP has high revenue, but their profits pale in comparison to Microsoft. I’ll also say with the release of Mango, WP7 is just a better, smoother OS. That doesn’t even include full Skype integration, which you know will go well beyond what WebOS has.

    So maybe we’re all a bit delusional.

  2. Leaders have vision. I don’t care one iota what the current marketshare is for Windows Phone. I am anxiously awaiting Mango, satisfied and joyful to be using WP7 until then and see the assertiveness Microsoft is showing in key areas.

    I very well may be even more delusional than you David. I see a future in the next year of a complete and seamless ” 3 Screens” happening. I see Windows 8 tablets taking the consumer market by storm while setting the stage for hundreds of millions of people to be falling in love with live tiles. By the time Windows Phone 8 is released Nokia will be firmly positioned as the main OEM for Windows Phone and the hype will be epic. Thats right, epic!

    Nobody is denying that Android is taking the world by storm but i’ll go out on the limb and say that between IE10, WIndows 8, Xbox, Windows Phone and Skype that MIcrosoft will have the competition making secret calls to the G-Men telling on big bad Microsoft.

    The day of reckoning is fast approaching for those smug bastards that tried to spit on Microsoft when they were down. Does Ballmer look like something you really want to piss off? Mad Ballmer’s coming for you.

  3. Yeah Murani, Microsoft has a hell of a platform, and I’m not just talking about WP7. Windows 8, Xbox, Xbox Live, Kinect, WP7, Skydrive, Skype, Bing, Bing Audio, Bing Vision, Bing Video, Zune, Photosynth, Office, etc. I can go on and on and on. Other than Windows, Office, and maybe Xbox, these are great platforms that have been hampered by a lack of leadership and vision, and the fact that Microsoft has been slow to roll out many of these services to a worldwide market.

    But it seems Microsoft has found themselves again. They’re doing some great stuff. Although it seems the majority of tech journalists hate Microsoft and will never give them credit. Let’s hope they continue to prove them wrong.

  4. Web os??? Who the hell are this guys???.. WP all the way…hp web os is dying.. They know that too.. And I think they are content to have SOME SHARES….

  5. Consumers don’t care about OS names. They care about products. If HP releases a compelling product, I think they’ll do okay.

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