HP CEO says webOS will be better than ‘fragmented’ Android and ‘closed’ iOS

Though Hewlett-Packard was unable to produce webOS devices that consumers were interested in buying — at a positive margin, at least — CEO Meg Whitman still thinks the beleaguered platform has legs. After unsuccessfully trying to sell or license webOS, HP decided late last year to donate its $1.2 billion platform to the open source community. The firm still plans to launch new webOS devices in the future, however, and Meg Whitman explained HP’s position while speaking with CRN. Read on for more.

“There is a clear vision of what we’re trying to accomplish,” Whitman said in an interview. “There will be some people who will not love that vision, and then there are people who are very excited about this vision, and what it can mean for an alternative, open-source operating system that has some real strengths to it.”

Despite the overwhelming failure of the TouchPad — HP discontinued the slate a mere two months after it launched — the CEO stressed the fact that HP is not done with tablets. WebOS is seemingly no longer a part of HP’s core tablet strategy, however, having been replaced by Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 platform.

“We have to have a tablet offering,” Whitman said. “We will be back in that business. We’re coming back into the market with a Windows 8 tablet, first on an x86 chip and then maybe on an ARM chip.” She also stated that security would be HP’s “sweet spot,” noting that security on tablets is a big concern for small, medium-sized and large businesses. WebOS will still play a role at HP it seems, though it remains unclear what exactly that role will be.

When asked if Whitman was concerned that a number of high-level executives formerly on the webOS team were fleeing, the executive was optimistic. “We’re going to build a new business together,” she told CRN. “We’re going to build another operating system that has huge advantages, in my view, over iOS, which is a closed system, [and] Android, which is incredibly fragmented and may ultimately be more closed with [Google's] acquisition of Motorola Mobility.”

Whether or not being more open than iOS and less fragmented than Android will translate into webOS device sales remains to be seen.

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