Thursday, December 30, 2010

Is There Room For Web OS In 2011 - Maybe Not

Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 (WP7) did not sell one million units its first weekend but Microsoft cannot afford to cede the mobile market to Apple or Google. And it has the staying power and deep deep pocket to win marketshare if not necessarily the hearts and minds of users.

With WP7 already having an app store already rivaling HP's Web OS in terms of numbers of apps, is there room for Web OS in the market anymore?

A year ago when the Palm Pre came onto the market, I would have definitely said yes.

Then, your choices were Symbian, iOS, or Android (Windows Mobile 6 isn't worth mentioning). Until Web OS came into the scene, all the excitement was about the iPhone. And for a brief period of time, I was actually a believer that Palm could give Apple a run for its money.

Obviously, it didn't happen. A series of executive decision by Palm's head honchos are to blame.

That was then. Today, HP has Palm's back and it ready to give another stab at the mobile market in early 2011. And it'll be a very crowded first quarter of 2011.

Not just head winds against the iPhone and Android but now WP7 is coming into its own and Redmond will leverage everything its got against the market. And given Palm's poor decisions in the past and those executives who continue to be at HP, I don't have a good feeling even if HP does come out with a compelling Web OS product.

Fight for third will be very important. I like Web OS. I have had many opportunities to play with the Pre (the Pixi was a joke though). I am particularly excited about what Web OS would do on a tablet. In my opinion, Google needs to study Web OS because I think that's more what Chrome OS should be more like. (I think Android and Chrome OS will eventually merge into an unifying OS).

But if you cannot come out knocking some people around, you're just not going to attract much attention beyond core fanboys.

Microsoft has said that it will take years to gain parity with iOS. I wonder what is HP's strategy for Web OS to make a run at the mobile leaders. We know what Redmond will do but HP has not said a word about this since the acquisition of Palm.

Well, let's take a look at what HP has done. At CES 2010, it showed off the Slate running Windows. And as the iPad came onto the scene, Apple was largely unchallenged except the Samsung Tab this fall. HP finally shipped a number of Slate but that was about it.

I reckon that HP has been watching and studying the market carefully. But it also needs to be very bold and aggressive with whatever its vision for Web OS is. The mobile market, including the tablets, is moving quickly.

HP will face a slew new products coming out of CES. On the slate front, it will have to compete with a number of Android tablets, Windows 7 tablets, and, of course, the juggernaut in the market, iPad 2. For smartphones, Droid, Galaxy 2, and iPhone 4 and/or 5 are waiting out on the mean mobile playground, just waiting for the new kid.

It's gonna get ugly. I'm very excited. But I'm also very worried for Web OS.

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