Lightsabers, software Darwinism and the demise of webOS
At least finding an elegant weapon for a more civilised age in your cubicle is somewhat surprising, unlike webOS' (effective) demise. The company also announced it's spinning off its Personal Systems Group, which is responsible for desktop PCs and notebooks as well as webOS devices.
Let's put this in perspective: The first HP-branded webOS devices were released in February. The devices have gone from sale to fail in a matter of months. The TouchPad was released in the US in July, and only launched in Australia last week.
Sure, HP says that it is still looking for ways to use webOS. But does anyone expect anything to really come of it? HP CEO, Leo Apotheker, told a conference call that "Sales of the TouchPad are not meeting our expectations." [Postscript: And at this point while writing this blog entry I just ended up just looking at that quote shaking my head.]
Dan Olds of the Gabriel Consulting Group put it succinctly: "Tablets are hot right now, but webOS isn't." "Tablets are rapidly coming down to a choice between Apple and Android-based machines — with Microsoft looking for an opportunity to get in as well," he said.
We shouldn't neglect the true historical significance of the HP Touchpad, however: The runout sales in the wake of HP's announcement have made tech history, with price parity between the US and Australia being achieved for probably the first time ever ($98 here, $US99 there).
It's horrible having to plough through all the analyst guff about the 'lean forward' work culture versus the new 'lean back' leisure culture, but there's no denying that the tablet category has taken off. Well, if you're Apple that is.
The reality is that no tablet — Android, webOS, or the frequently laughable Windows-based offerings — has come even close to matching the iPad or the iPad 2 in terms of sales. And — I write this as an Android fan — in terms of software ecosystem. And price point. And hardware quality.
Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said that webOS "did have a chance at the enterprise market, but it was never going to challenge the iPad's very strong position in the consumer tablet space". But of course, tablet adoption in businesses is being driven largely by the 'consumerisation of IT'/'bring-your-own-device' trend.
Given Android has had trouble competing on the app front when it comes to tablets, what chance did webOS really have?
The sad thing about HP ditching its tablet/smartphones play is that webOS was actually a pretty good OS. GoodGearGuide reviewer Ross Catanzariti described the TouchPad's interface as the best he'd ever seen on a tablet device. In the end, webOS has been a victim of software Darwinism. Survival of the fittest in this case is not about which platform is 'best' in a technical sense — it's about whether it's got what it really takes to survive, whether that is Apple's hardware excellence, market lead and well-integrated device ecosystem (as well as horrible hipster appeal and trendiness) or Android's adoption by a broad swathe of vendors and (relative) openness.
As always, feel free to drop me a line at rohan_pearce at idg.com.au if you need to let me know how things really are. You can also find me as @rohan_p on Twitter.
Cloud, big data and analytics, mobile, social, and IT security have impacted networking – bringing it almost to breaking point. This whitepaper looks at the future of networking to accommodate these evolving trends.
This whitepaper discusses the challenge of BYOD and how best-practice deployments help deliver on the business promise of mobility with integrated protection throughout the workplace. See why flexible, end-to-end security enables enterprises to speed adoption of transformative technologies for a competitive edge, why if employees feel that security policies impede productivity or encroach on personal data, they look for work-arounds and how integrated solutions that avoid overlapping functionality and streamline management can help organizations maintain tight security and ensure compliance.
- Telstra reveals increase in warrant-free access to customer data
- DNS server attacks begin using BIND software flaw
- Fake Apple iOS crash reports prove tricky to remove
- NBN to invest $40m to boost construction workforce
- Windows 10's usage share jumps 4x in three days
- Lawmakers propose new visa for foreign tech entrepreneurs
- Microsoft bests Google in patent case appeal
- Yahoo picks up fashion commerce site Polyvore
- Mt. Gox CEO Karpeles arrested by Japanese police
- Facebook says Flash security woes could hurt its business
- IBM fattens patent portfolio in cloud tech
- Microsoft scores with free Windows 10 upgrade as downloads tally 10x Windows 8's first-day sales
- It's SysAdmin Day: Let us celebrate with coffee
- ISP argues net neutrality rules violate its right to block content
- Former Hacking Team developer reportedly in contact with a terrorist group