LG Electronics decision to purchase webOS from HP has split opinion among industry watchers over the future of the platform on mobile devices.
The South Korean giant revealed the deal at the Mobile World Congress on Monday. It is acquiring all the platform’s source code, associated documentation, engineers, related websites, and relevant HP intellectual property licenses from HP, which picked up the platform when it bought Palm in 2010.
However, Skott Ahn, president and chief technology officer at LG Electronics, revealed the firm plans to use webOS to power future smart TVs and other consumer electronics devices, rather than in mobile phones.
“The open and transparent webOS technology offers a compelling user experience that, when combined with our own technology, will pave the way for future innovations using the latest Web technologies,” Ahn said.
Rethink Wireless contributor Mark Jones says LG Electronics’ focus leaves the future of webOS as a mobile platform in doubt, noting the platform gathered a “small but loyal following,” despite never truly taking off as a mobile operating system.
Part of that ‘following’ is Phoenix International Communications, which Jones points out detailed plans to “resurrect webOS on mobile devices,” in December. He notes that interest makes it “unclear how this will tie in with LG’s lack of interest with webOS as a mobile OS.”
However, the flip side is that LG Electronics now has a powerful platform for its smart TV’s, argues Ovum devices and platforms analyst Tony Cripps. “LG’s stated intention to use webOS in TVs makes sense for the company, which is enjoying significant momentum in this emerging device category.”
While the platform boosts LG’s TV plans, Cripps refuses to rule out the use of webOS in future mobile phones. “The platform’s heavily HTML5-oriented application framework is well-suited to the emerging zeitgeist for web technology in mobile devices,” he says, adding. “A focus on HTML5-based apps and services will allow for significant innovation at the level of the underlying user experience, with far less compromise in terms of application support than is the case with left-of-center native programming paradigms.”