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The future of WebOS and the Un-TouchablePad

I woke up this morning at the crack of dawn. Donned a geeky T-shirt, a pair of chinos and jumped in the car, with the light of expectation ablaze in my eye. With the HP TouchPad going (for want of a better word) viral in the US following it’s price drop UK retailers announced they would be following suit last night. Websites crashed, stock was rapidly gobbled up, and fire rained from the sky.

I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t be able to pick one up this morning, but a guy can dream! After waiting impatiently outside PC World, getting rejected, and subsequently running to all other vaguely technological emporiums within the district I admit I have failed in my quest. Apparently the employees of certain branches cleaned out the stock as soon as the cut was announced (see Ebay) Hopefully I will be able to secure one from a friend in the US, and hopefully android will soon be making a home for itself on the now wildly popular tablet.

The future of the TouchPad is now hazy, and very interesting. If the way to make everyone drool over a product, over night, is to announce you are killing it, WP7 may well have a lifeline. Joking aside, this will have a huge impact on the tech world. The way I see it there are two or three likely outcomes from this huge adoption of the TP, and therefore of WebOS. The first is that someone (Google?) will buy WebOS and all the patents it contains. This will be a hugely valuable package for any of the ‘Big Three’ in the many lawsuits to come on the road to mobile domination.

There is also the chance that after purchasing it, the OS it will be licensed out, much like android and WP7 for companies such as Samsung and HTC to use in their devices. Purely based on the new user base from the TP’s viral success there are enough people with WebOS in their homes to warrant continuing the OS, as well as the fact everyone who has used it seems to love most of the UI. Cards anyone? This would also give companies like HTC and Samsung another leg to stand on, as they do not share the special relationship with Google or Microsoft that Motorola and Microsoft now enjoy.

I could also see so many people clamouring to put Android onto their new TouchPads that it becomes the new ‘budget’ android tablet. Think of the success of the Nook Color, and the community which has sprung up around it. And with the TP’s specs it will remain a high to mid powered tablet for at least a year, especially when Android is tweaked to take full advantage of dual core, and until it utilises quad-core processors. This will probably happen regardless of what happens to WebOS, but imagine dual booting WebOS 4.0 and Ice Cream Sarnie!

The final result of this, which I can plausibly foresee, will be that someone buys WebOS and maintains all the rights to produce hardware for it. HTC have produced hardware for Palm in the past, and the marriage of software and hardware was a feature that made WebOS as good as it undeniably was/is. If this happens I hope that whoever adopts it will treat it better than HP have.

Whatever happens I hope I will be able to pick a TouchPad up, I love my Nook Color and having another Hablet (Hacked android tablet ©AndroidAtNight) with the specs to keep up with the likes of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the XOOM would be sublime!

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