John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Could HP Push webOS as a Premium Alternative to Android?

Hewlett-Packard CEO Léo Apotheker says licensing webOS to third-party handset manufacturers is something the company would certainly entertain.

But should it? And under what conditions?

In a client note this week, Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry makes the case that it should, and comes up with some interesting scenarios to support that argument. He says that Sony, Motorola and Samsung are growing disillusioned with Google’s Android OS. They feel there’s too much fragmentation and too little differentiation among Android devices and that companies producing low-end handsets are collapsing the premium market they’d most like to play in.

“They’re starting to realize that their Android devices [are no different] in the eyes of the customer [than a] $20 Android Phone from Huawei,” Chowdhry says. “They’re worried that Android may dilute their global brand as customers put them in the same bucket with Acer, Asus, ZTE, Huawei, and MediaTek.”

And if that’s the case, Sony, Motorola and Samsung might be interested in another mobile OS, one that would preserve their premium brand.

Which is where HP’s webOS comes in.

It’s a widely acclaimed platform and it’s not fragmented at all. If the company were to license it to a few select partners, under the right conditions it could extend the operating system’s reach and bolster HP’s revenues. HP could also define a handful of well-conceived reference designs to which OEM partners must adhere and charge them $50 to $75 per device.

By doing that, HP could keep hardware quality high and position webOS as a premium alternative to Android. Which may be just what companies like Sony, Motorola and Samsung are looking for.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik