Hewlett-Packard is planning to do more with webOS than just put it on its tablets, smartphones, and PCs. In fact, HP CEO Léo Apotheker plans to make it available to HP's partners, in one form or another.
"WebOS will also be adopted by many partners who provide services to small and medium businesses," Apotheker said during an interview at D9, according to All Things Digital. "Traditionally HP has a strong channel into medium companies. … I happen to believe that WebOS is a uniquely outstanding operating system. It’s not correct to believe that it should only be on HP devices. There are all kinds of other people who want to make whatever kind of hardware they make and would like to connect them to the Internet. We’ll make it available to enteprises and to SMBs. It will run on lots of HP devices."
When specifically asked about licensing, Apotheker said it was something the company would certainly entertain. At Qualcomm's Uplinq conference, webOS head Jon Rubinstein said that HP would consider doing so with a couple of select partners, but not broadly.
HP completed its acquisition of Palm for $1.2 billion in July 2010. Despite suspicions by many that the company would kill webOS, so far it has done the exact opposite. In October 2010, HP officially introduced webOS 2.0, the most significant update to the platform since its launch in 2009, along with the Palm Pre 2, the first device to sport it.
Three months ago, HP announced that it plans to put webOS on all of its PCs in 2012. A beta (running in a browser on Windows) is slated for this year. We're not too sure how we feel about having it run in a browser, but we're willing to see what HP cooks up before giving our thoughts.
HP's webOS strategy appears to be centered on leveraging its PC business to push webOS in mobile: both on smartphones and especially on tablets. It is way too soon to tell if this will work, but if webOS is going to succeed, another mobile OS will likely end up dying a slow death.