The Future of webOS Is on PCs and Printers and Other People's Phones and Everything in BetweenS

HP CEO Leo Apotheker has some crazy interesting things to say about the best neglected platform in smartphones: webOS. Like that he's open to licensing webOS to other phonemakers—HTC, for instance.

Reiterating what HP has been saying about webOS since its big coming out party in February, HP's about to go all out on webOS: "We're putting it on phones, on our TouchPad tablet which will debut as scheduled this summer. And we'll put webOS on PCs….It will go on every PC that we'll ship." Altogether, adding "printers and PC and TouchPad, we're talking 100 to 110 million devices a year. We can create a pretty large ecosystem.

At first, on top of Windows, not replacing it. But the outcome, he thinks, is this:

The consumer PC business is in a kind of valley, I think it will come out... but the classic world we're all familiar with, the wintel world, is starting to see some competition. I think over the next three or four years, these worlds will merge together. We'll see a whole new set of form factors.

And here's his exact words on the potential of webOS running on devices from companies who aren't HP:

It's not correct to believe that it should only be on HP devices. There are all kinds of other people who want to make whatever kind of hardware they make and would like to connect them to the Internet. We'll make it available to enteprises and to SMBs. It will run on lots of HP devices.

In terms of somebody like HTC licensing it for phones, he says, "It is certainly something we would entertain."

Apotheker says he's been trying "to shelter Palm from bureaucracy" within HP, which is a great thing. Palm needs to be able to do what it needs to do, without interference. And this is how amazing things are often made in giant companies. (Like E&D inside of Microsoft was once a private fiefdom.) He goes a step further when he answers a question about RIM's PlayBook launch:

The one lesson I have learned from this, and I'm driving my engineers crazy with this, is that we will not release a product that isn't perfect.

I'm going to hold him to that.

So yeah, webOS. It's either going to be a huge platform on everything that HP can shove it on, or you know, a massive failure of epic proportions. Hopefully more of the former. [This Is My Next, All Things D, All Things D]