HP & WebOS – What does its Loss mean, really?

In a mobile world currently dominated by iOS and Android, does the loss and then open sourcing of WebOS really matter?

I’ve been in mobile devices most of my career. I cut my teeth on them. I’ve watched some devices and operating systems grow up, grow old and die. PalmOS, WindowsCE and Windows Mobile are a few. WinMo was killed for Windows Phone, and its totally different.

WebOS with its cards motif was a big step forward and a huge step away from Palm’s traditional PalmOS. The hardware was ok, the OS was pretty good; but Palm lost their momentum and wasn’t able to turn it around.

Palm mothballed the OS and sold it to HP. HP promised to do something with it, but they couldn’t get it together either. They initially decided to let the OS die, but later decided to revive it and open source it. Its been a number of weeks since that announcement. I can’t help but wonder what the impact of that development means at this time.

In a word or two…not much.

HP’s official development and work with WebOS has ended. They’ve given the software to the development community to tweak and use as they like. Right now, there aren’t any CURRENT devices using the open sourced (or any) version of WebOS. Unless a major hardware manufacturer or OEM decides to go that way, you likely won’t see it, either.

So again, what does that mean? Will it make a difference in an iOS and Android dominated market?

I don’t think so. The iPhone is the iPhone and will continue to grow in popularity all over the world. Android will continue in current and new devices, and be as diverse as the day is long. Windows Phone will continue to chip away at both; and RIM will likely disappear,  regardless of what WebOS does or doesn’t do.

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RIM turned down acquisitions overtures from Amazon, Microsoft AND Nokia?

RIM is headed for a very difficult 2012. It seems that it can’t even GIVE it away…

Case in point – RIM has been a huge player in the PDA/Smartphone market for more than 10 years. Its closer to 15, really; but not quite. Anyway, in 2011, it was stated that RIM’s stock lost 75% of their value, and while that loss still leaves them with well over $1.7B in cash, it’s not clear how long that cash will last when they are constantly losing market share to both Apple and Google’s Android. Big decisions need to be made, and made quickly.

One thing is very clear, however – RIM needs to get their act together…quickly.

One thing that really puzzles me is that RIM has turned down acquisition overtures from a number of really big players in the tablet and smartphone markets, including both Amazon and Nokia. They seem to have scared off Microsoft and their interest in the Ontario handset manufacturer more than once. They also don’t seem to care. Their co-CEO’s appear hell bent on trying to right the company. While I applaud them for their tenacity, they really just need to knock it off. The party’s over.

Not only is the party over, but the the BGR reported rumor that sparked a 7% uptick in the company’s stock on 17-Jan-12, has been emphatically denied by Samsung. They have CLEARLY stated they have NO interest in RIM, and have never considered or formally discussed any interest in them. At this point, I not only expect the market to give back yesterday’s ample gains, but for the company to lose additional value in the immediate future’s trading.

Nearly every industry pundit that I know of is predicting RIM’s future to be dismal at best. C|Net’s Buzz Out Loud podcast recent 2012 Prediction’s Show also spelled out a bleak to dismal 2012 for the once dominant RIM.

Everyone else can see it…why can’t they?

Any way you try to look at this, RIM needs to act, and act now if they are going to do save something, anything of themselves. The company lost 75% of its value in 2011…75%! It can’t stand to have that happened again. If their board is paying attention, much of the tech industry is chiming in on their rather pronounced misfortune, and they are making provision for that continued misfortune. Unfortunately, most everyone thinks we are past the water bailing point. According to the industry, the ship is going to sink. It’s just a matter of time, and it’s just a matter of determining how much value for their shareholders can be saved.

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