The Future Of Web OS.
Since the big announcement last week from HP regarding the future of WebOS, there have been a number of impressions and speculations about what will happen next. Some say that it’s been wounded, and not properly killed off. Others have been positive and upbeat about the possibilities. I am part of the latter group, and the Powerbase has a few predictions of its own. So, what will become of WebOS?
The State of the PC
I love me PC, and I love my laptop. Of course, I love computers so I should have to be more clear about this. I love choice! I love to be able to use my Computer the way I choose and to use the software that I want. I don’t want to have any tools prescribed to me. I am perfectly capable of making choices and picking the tools that are right for me. My PC can run Windows, Mac or Linux. Unfortunately one of those takes a little hacking to make possible, and I haven’t even attempted it. Nor will I ever try it.
The State of the Mobile Phone
I have a Nexus S. I love this phone, and it is the first phone that I’ve loved since the Palm Pre. I love the stock Android operating system. I love a no-frills, get to the damn point sort of experience. That’s my choice. But that choice was hard to make. With a PC, I just figure out how fast I want it to be, how much RAM I should have, how big of a hard-drive and so on. With a phone, the decision is much harder. I have to pick a device that suits me from a performance point-of-view AND and has a software package that I can agree with. Then, I have to make sure that my carrier offers it that handset. I got lucky this time, because Sprint offers a Nexus S, but before that, I didn’t have an option for a Nexus One. I suffered through an HTC Hero, a Samsung Moment and even a Blackberry, desperate to find something with Android Market that was as good as my Pre was. Now, I know, I can install custom roms on these devices, and I’ve even tried a couple, but I should be able to choose which operating system I want as a base.
Who better to take the reins of WebOS availability that Cyanogen Mod. I predict the CM gang to be the first to lick the icing out of the bowl on this one. Having the experience of porting Gingerbread to the Touchpad, and plenty of experience with the Linux kernel and multiple devices, this seems like a no-brainer task for them to take on. Could you imagine running WebOS on your EVO? What about your Thunderbolt, Droid or Nexus? The possibilities are endless. That’s not to mention the fact that there is already an x86 version available. How about WebOS on your netbook? It might even make your dusty old CR-48 useful. As far as x86 is concerned, WebOS is the only mobile platform that doesn’t require an emulator for its dev tools, which means a quick and dirty install from a VMWare image will be first out of the gate. I want it on my Nexus S. Call me a traitor, but I’ll still be in Matias territory living his legacy (no, not the sidekick).
That’s what I’m really talking about. Freedom. Canonical already has a mobile version of Ubuntu in the works. Do I think that it will overcome any commercial mobile platform? Absolutely not. In fact, I like it that way. If I had it my way, in 2012-13 I might still have my Nexus S, and on it, choice. I might be able to load Cyanogen Mod 9, stock Ice Cream Sandwich, Meego (Tizen), Ubuntu or WebOS. That ‘s five major choices on one device. I think that releasing WebOS into the open arms of the open source community is going to be the next step in drawing a user-land parallel with the PC. In this Utopia, the iPhone/iPad may even come to play.
WebOS vs. WebOS?
We’ve seen it before. Oracle practically abandoned Open Office and during that period of abandonment it was never able to completely define itself as anything other than the free one. Now that it has been forked, and Libre Office show genuine promise, Open Office is completely irrelevant. With artwork and interface design decisions actually taking place, with projects like Citrus waiting in the wings, Libre Office has a genuine opportunity to complete with Microsoft Office on all fronts. That is of course if the typical installable office suite does not get buried by competing cloud services. Though I believe that HP made the right decision open sourcing this software, I completely see them dropping the ball on development if this future hardware they mention doesn’t take off (it won’t).
So, in my WebOS future, WebOS is forked at some point and becomes a very serious open source product, one that is used by the same demographic that uses mainstream Linux distributions like Ubuntu. Yeah, that’s right. I’m saying that %1 percent of mobile users will use a world class operating system, and I might be one of them. This fork also introduces the prospect of a ‘light’ variant. What if you could run WebOS on your trusty old Palm Pre? That certainly would be something. What about on your Pixi? Hey, say what you will, but I maintain that it’s still a solid device.
What about Palm OS?
Palm OS is the most efficient operating system ever developed as far as productivity is concerned. The default calendar program, despite its lack of sync abilities with major (no) services is bare-none, the best. I will fist-fight over this claim. Well, I might argue it aggressively… I can open apps faster in Palm OS than I can in any other operating system. HP, let’s open source this too. I will start the petition today! In all seriousness there is no reason not to do this. Did id software release the source to Quake and not Doom? No sir.
So what do you think? Is (will) WebOS become a serious contender after the announcement of it being open-sourced? Would you try to use it on your device? What does this announcement mean for the mobile space?
Let us know in the comments below.