webOS in Limbo

HP CEO Meg Whitman during a company meeting today regarding webOS via Joshua Topolsky, The Verge:

It’s really important to me to make the right decision, not the fast decision. If HP decides [to keep webOS], we’re going to do it in a very significant way over a multi-year period. It’s a very expensive proposition, but HP can make that bet.

webOS is the result of some serious work by those who have a deep understanding of both technology and people. Kind of like the folks that made iOS. In some ways webOS is more intuitive. Flicking a card up to quit, as in gesturing a sayonara, is more instant, more satisfying than holding an icon until it starts to jiggle and then touching the x button. Switching among different apps is also more direct on webOS than it is on iOS. I am not trying to say one is better than the other, just that webOS like iOS is an excellent mobile OS with great potential.

I hope HP understands that among all the stuff that it has webOS is quite possibility the most brilliant. The most recent example of an acquisition that went nowhere is VooDoo PC. Before HP, VooDoo was one of the three strongest brands (Falcon Northwest and Alienware being the other two) that made awesome customizable PC rigs. After HP, VooDoo started down the road toward mediocrity. I wish Palm wasn’t bought because I can almost imagine a unique Palm-branded tablet that’s much better in many ways than the HP-branded TouchPad: thinner, lighter, tighter integration between hardware and software, etc.

Will HP take webOS and push it down the road of ho-hum like it did with VooDoo? The choice that Whitman makes regarding webOS will most likely determine what type of company HP will be for the next several years. Will HP continue to be merely another PC brand that cranks out me-too products to maintain unit market share so it can brag it’s the largest PC company in the world? Or will HP dig deep into its soul and restart innovating?