webOS: The “Other” Smartphone Operating System
Frequent readers of this site know that I’m quite passionate about webOS, the operating system that drives the Palm Pre and Pixi. For many businesses developing smartphone apps, webOS is commonly at the bottom of the list. This is largely due to Palm’s market share in the world of smartphones. Companies ordinarily target the device OS with the largest market share. This is why most apps are developed for the iPhone and Android phones first. But it’s worse than that.
Many companies are waiting to see just what HP is going to do with Palm’s critically acclaimed, yet not-so-popular webOS. Users like me are left wanting more, while the Android and iPhone markets continue to grow.
This past summer I gave 10 tips on shopping for a smartphone. I think if more people really took the time to do the research, they’d find that the “obvious” choice is not always the ideal one. That’s not to say that webOS devices are for everyone – I wholeheartedly agree that the iPhone, Android and Blackberry have their place in the market for good reasons. However, the sheer number of complaints people post about their devices every day speaks volumes about the need to know what you’re buying before you sign a long-term contract.
At the same time, companies need to realize that there are users of each OS that are both loyal and passionate about their devices, and they, too, are seeking all-important services and apps. This is why Palm launched the PDK, which allows iPhone app developers to easily port their software to work on webOS.
Which brings me to the most common reason app developers and companies aren’t focusing on webOS at all. Despite many announcements concerning the future of webOS, Palm’s the underdog. Many developers (like Evernote) would rather wait and see if the platform gains momentum. The problem is, waiting could be opening the door for competitors to jump in and convert users on-the-fly.
It’s already happening – many independent developers are using service APIs to fill the void. The Foursquare webOS app was developed by @zhephree. While he had Foursquare’s support, the fact that a groundbreaking service which relies entirely on mobile needed to rely on an outsider to reach millions of additional users says something. Even Square co-founder Tristan O’Tierney said that company was playing wait and see with webOS.
For developers and service providers sitting on the sidelines, unwilling to take common business risks, while waiting to see if they can benefit, I have two letters: H…P…
That’s right, one of the biggest names in tech – Hewlett-Packard – has already announced it’s going full steam ahead with webOS. If that’s not enough reason for companies to get in on the ground floor in order to reap big-time benefits later, I don’t know what is.